do i have to count days?

Here’s an extract from the  book

do i have to count days

from Clementine: “Why do you think it’s important to have continuous sober time? Why is it more valuable to have 60 days in a row, than to have 29 days, a week off drinking, and then 29 more days (like me)?”


I think day counting is important because each day represents a day when you said NO. You are building a wall between the ‘you’ back there, and the ‘new you’ over here, and so every sober day is a new brick in that wall. 

There are many forums and online communities that have pledges like “let’s plan to do 15 out of 30 days sober this month,” but they are not continuous days.

This doesn’t help us; we don’t get anywhere. On the days we’re not drinking, we are waiting to drink again. It’s like holding your breath and going underwater for a day. 

To me, the reason for a longer goal (100 days) is that you have to actually go forward and learn something. Once you remove the booze, you practise new things like self-soothing, treats, and learning to change the channel in your head. 

If you don’t pay attention to your sober momentum, then any day can be a drinking day or a sober day. By counting, you’re saying to Wolfie: “I’m not doing this. I’m getting the hell out of here. As far as I can, far away from you. One sober day at a time.”


don’t break the momentum

i don’t have angel wings hiding under my clothes. in fact, lots of days i don’t get dressed until just before my husband comes home from work. i have a messy desk. i am currently going through a phase of drinking instant coffee powdered cappuccino shit that is very pleasing for some unknown reason. i’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about sober treats while writing the sober book, and i’ve been eating like it’s an olympic sport. keeps me sober. helps me write books. all is well.

i’m not particularly special, i promise. i have a few talents – as do you. you have kids and i don’t. you have all your own teeth (i have an implant). you have talents that i don’t have, including being able to watch a movie without multi-tasking. or maybe you can sew (i’m blind enough that i can barely thread the needle and by then i’ve lost all motivation).

i’m not special. i am pretty good at being stubbornly determined to do things once i set my mind to them, even when i flail around for a long time looking like an idiot. the similarities between writing and being sober are huge. feeling lost, reaching out, asking for support, having treats, having incentives, keeping going even when you’ve lost the plot (ha. writing humour). if day by day you are sober and you move further away from day 1, it’s just like me writing a bit each day for a year and a half (fuckers) and then it’s done.

and now that it’s done, i know enough to not break the writing momentum. it’s like sober momentum. it’s hard to get. it’s not easy to step on/step off, despite what our brains may tell us. What about the vacation? wolfie says, tempting us to drink. the writing wolfie says the same thing: “you deserve some time off.” and i do deserve time off. thankfully it’s possible to vacation without alcohol (who knew). heading out tomorrow morning on the train andi’m not going to skip being sober while i’m on vacation. it’s a non-negotiable part of my life that makes everything else POSSIBLE. (oh, if you haven’t heard the one minute message called Sober Foundation, then you’re missing out. it’s episode #6 and it’s free here.) (that said, at the risk of filling this entirely with parentheticals, i haven’t recorded enough OMMs this week as i’ve been occupied with the book thing. i pray that next week is a bit more normal in terms of me slipping into my daily routine.). happy sober friday. back on tuesday.

we bring drama to the table

[Now that I have finished writing the sober book, and cover art is finished, I’ve talked with the UK printer about paper and cover stock  … now i’m spending time looking over earlier journals about the writing process. i can see that it took a LOT longer than i thought it would to find out HOW to write, to find a pattern, a rhythm. I discovered that writing is like early sobriety: shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.

i’m going to post some of the writing that i did over the last year that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.]

monday; June 29th @ 5:30 a.m.

Maybe writing is meditative because you stop focussing on other things and you are very in the present, writing the next word. This word is being written at this time. Now. It’s how we feel now, but also it’s what we do now. The only time to write a book is now. The only time we can be writing is now. (The only time to be sober is now. the only time to not take a drink is now.)

gaining the motivation to begin? the problem is usually mental. A problem with thinking. How to create new (adaptive, supportive) thoughts. How to accept chick-in-grass-ness while you figure it out.

i look forward to feeling less clenched, more focussed, more zen. cell phone off more (oh the checking, turning off and on – this is why i didn’t want a phone). looking for a continuous drip of adrenaline, an event, entertainment. Because what? because me left alone will be what? Bored. And bored = amped up + inactive. because when i’m not amped up + inactive, i feel like i’m resting, on vacation. So it’s the amped up part to change. the seeking of the distraction. stay here. do this for now. keep doing this thing.

5:30 am. I know my to-do list is too long for today, but i wanted to pre-envision a routine — not knowing if i’ll love a routine or balk against it. The not-knowing how i’ll feel in any given situation, what i will like, seems peculiar at age 48 to be figuring out now. But we don’t ever create the space to do this kind of work (self-figuring-out-work). We drink to guarantee it doesn’t occur. We watch reruns just to be doing something. Because us alone AND amped up AND idle is just long and torturous.

we bring drama to the table. we believe our own hyped up stories of how ‘hard’ it is. we bring the flailing, wrenching, twisting. We bring the rationalizations — i can’t do this now because … we bring the avoidant spinnyness.

writing just upon waking means no internet, no emails, means i go straight into writing from a relaxed, relatively empty space / head space.  i can move into routines with more autopilot and less thought. The thing we crave is some ‘before time’ — before responsibilities, before kids, or husbands or whatever. now we have to construct our ‘before/alone’ time (5 a.m.?), we have to construct our self-care, we have to try and try more, different, other, to bring it together.

Maybe the practise of writing is the zen in the day that makes the rest of the day better. like being sober, alone time, reflective, running, zen, pets, horse therapy, photography, swimming, running painting — all ways to come to a stillness of thinking. Maybe writing is a solution, or one of them, or my personal solution. turn off the world, make the edges go black, just like it was when it was me+tv when younger.

i maybe like this.

5:45 a.m.

take the first step, make a change

from me:

[on thursday night I sent the full book manuscript to the ‘big’ editor in the UK. Looking back on some earlier journalling i did about the writing process, i can see now that it took a LOT longer than i thought it would. and i discovered that writing is like early sobriety: shit is hard, then it gets easier, then we don’t know what we’re doing, then we figure some things out, and then we make daily, small progress.

Over the next couple of days, i’m going to post some of the writing that i did over the last year that ‘helped’ me figure out the sober writing thing. Because the parallels with sobriety are huge and many.]

June 30, 2015

i know what i want to say. i can string a sentence together.

what i’m searching for is a routine. and some motivation. I used to write like this: 1993, no internet at home after work, drink on an empty stomach, listen to REM Automatic for the People. Then the CD would end (45 mins?) and i’d keep going. It was the music that drowned out the noise in my head. Perhaps the backdrop of noise in a restaurant lulls writing wolfie into taking a nap.

so now i’m doing new things. i’m trying to create a writing toolbox. i don’t have any experience doing this sober. or married. or with an ever-present internet connection.

Gra: It is hard to apply the things that work for early sobriety into other spheres of life ?.

and my response: I believe that everything is like everything. and it is like early sobriety where I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.

Gra: and you are right, everything is like everything – I think that has been my big Aha over the past year. And there I was thinking I was more complex and interesting. HA!


AM: Rather than telling yourself to keep trying different, which is totally necessary and great (but sometimes adds extra pressure and anxiety in my little opinion), just keep showing up. Every mountain looks like a mountain from the bottom, no matter how many times you’ve climbed it. And really, how many times during the climb up would you question yourself about why the fuck you are doing this when it’s so hard, what’s the point, who cares anyway blah blah. And then ya get to the top …

and my response: for me, if I keep showing up doing what I did yesterday, then it’s like watching paint dry. I’m better in motion. I’m better if I try something, find the part that works, keep that part, add something else, keep the 5% of that that works, and continue adding bits until I’m at 75% ish.

[this is just like early sobriety. i knew i wanted to be sober, i didn’t know how to get there, i didn’t like most of the advice i saw at first, i kept reading, found someone that i clicked with, did what they said, kept the parts that worked, figured out the rest. start with a replacement drink. then have a plan for witching hour. then have more support…]

my problem with the mountain is that if I can’t see the next step up, then I just walk around for a long time at the bottom.

But if I take the first step, make a change, break out, try different, then I can refine as I go along. Keep what works. toss the rest.


encouragement that even if the goal is large, that it gets smaller as you move through it. encouragement to pursue a large goal even if you think it’s scary. being afraid of a large goal is normal, but don’t nurse that feeling. look forward. think of how great it’ll be when it’s done.