What Does Someone With 103 Days of Sobriety Sound Like?
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What Does Someone With 103 Days of Sobriety Sound Like?


This post was originally published on July 22, 2014.

In AA meetings, you’ll often hear that the newcomer is the most important person in the room. I tend to agree—and also to shudder when I hear stories about cranky old-timers ordering newcomers to take the cotton out of their ears and stuff it in their mouth. It’s this interest in newcomers, in fact, that led me to the idea of regularly sussing out their thoughts at various stages of their sobriety. Sort of like that British Up series but with far less of a time commitment—and without, of course, a film crew.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we celebrate various lengths of sobriety. On a group level, we acknowledge 30, 60 and 90 days as well as six months, nine months and, of course, a year of continuous sobriety. The reason for this is to not only to celebrate the accomplishment of the chip-taker but also to create momentum for other newcomers and retreads in the room. And there’s another reason for newly recovering alcoholics to reflect on their chip-taking markers: to recognize their own progress and see the fruitage of their willingness to take suggestions and stay sober one day at a time.

In this third installment, APC catches up with Sarah F. as she celebrates 103 days of sobriety. She reflects back on how she was feeling just 30 days ago and begins to see the rapid and positive changes in her life as a result staying sober.

Danielle: We last checked in with you at 73 days sober. How did it feel to pick up your 90-day chip? Is this the most sober time you have had? Are you still experiencing cravings? 

Sarah: The 90-day chip felt really, really rewarding. I never thought I would be able to go three months when I first started my attempts at quitting drinking. I have not gone this long without alcohol since I started drinking at 17! My cravings have diminished substantially. I still miss the idea of drinking, if that makes sense, but the desire to actually ingest alcohol into my system is usually very short-lived if I do have it.

Danielle: We asked you to go back and read your interview from 43 and 73 days. Is there anything that you got from revisiting those interviews that you would like to share with us?  

Sarah: Well, I can tell how much I was really white knuckling those first few weeks—just focusing so hard on not picking up a drink. Reading that made me grateful that the actual act of not drinking has gotten a lot easier. I still think I’m struggling a little with the A word. I’m comfortable calling myself that in meetings and amongst really, really close friends but that’s about it. I know I can’t drink normally and I know I had to come to terms with the reality of being an alcoholic to get where I am now but it’s still hard to say, even to myself. 

Danielle: One day at a time, the next chip you will pick up is 6 months—are you having any fear or anxiety about going three months without being recognized for staying sober? What is your plan of action to make sure you get that next chip?

Sarah: I am not too worried about it. I have a lot of heavy life stuff going on with career changes and my family. I know for a fact it would all be 10 times worse if I picked up a drink. It’s simply not an option. I’m going to just keep going to meetings, calling my awesome sponsor, listening to sober podcasts, working my ass off at a job that’s keeping me incredibly busy and eating a lot of sugar. Truth be told, the sugar consumption might be getting a little out of hand but at least Ben and Jerry’s won’t lead to a DUI.

Danielle: Are you still working with the same sponsor? How do you feel this relationship (or the relationship with a new sponsor) is contributing to your success with staying sober?

Sarah: It’s the same sponsor and she is really, really great. She always manages to put things in perspective for me and keep my crazy brain in check. I don’t think I’d still be sober without her. I know you are not supposed to look at them as a guru or therapist so I won’t say that but her wisdom and guidance exemplify someone who has clearly worked the program.

Danielle: What step are you on? What are you getting out of and learning from your current step? Are you facing any challenges/breakthroughs?

Sarah: I am technically on Step 4 but I haven’t really started doing it yet. I have been really busy with work. If I’m being honest, I think I’ve kind of thrown myself into work in order to not deal with a lot of things, including this step. I have an enormous amount of resentment towards someone in my family right now so I’m having a talk with my sponsor later about using that to initiate working this step. It’s kind of difficult to face but I guess now is the time.

Danielle: How many meetings are you getting to per week? Be honest. We promise not to judge.  🙂

Sarah: I am only getting to about two or three meetings a week. Again, I am working a lot of hours right now. If I don’t go to a meeting, I try to do something AA-related—like writing, reading the literature or a recovery-based blog, calling my sponsor or listening to a recovery-centered podcast. Yoga also helps me tremendously as it’s a form of meditation.

Danielle: Have you or people around you noticed any physical changes within you since quitting drinking?

Sarah: Everyone tells me I look great and one friend said I seem a lot calmer. I guess I am less bloated overall and my face is skinnier but the privileged white girl in me of course thinks I should be skinnier. Don’t get me wrong, though—a thinner face is worth it’s weight in gold. Sorry, the sorority chick just came out again.

Danielle: How is God or a Higher Power playing a role in your life today? 

Sarah: Letting go and trusting God is taking care of it all is still hard. But “God’s will” is kind of my mantra when I feel like things aren’t going the way I planned. The truth is, and we’ve all heard this before, there is no point in making plans. I am not in control. It’s a daily practice trying to not force life to happen the way I want it. I guess faith is helping me accept that lack of control. 

Danielle: Quick gratitude list: tell us five things you are grateful for today as a result of being sober for over three months?

Sarah: No blackouts, no hangovers, more money, less anxiety and more self-love.

Danielle: If you could give someone who just picked up a 60-day chip any tips or words of wisdom for their journey towards 90 days, what would those be?

Sarah: One day at a time (of course), reach out to people when you’re struggling and when you think you are going to break down and drink, play the tape forward. Imagine starting the whole process over again. And keep reminding yourself what others with more sobriety under their belt are probably telling you constantly: it gets better. Believe it, because it does.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.