Addiction · Autobiography · Mental Health · Relationships

Two Years Sober

"Windows Molde Norway abstract" © Les Haines, 2012. CC BY 2.0.
Windows Molde Norway abstract” © Les Haines, 2012. CC BY 2.0.

Tomorrow will be my second sober anniversary and I am terrified. So terrified I’ve found myself lying on the floor, still in my coat and scarf, kicking the wall, and sobbing. So terrified I drove to my parents’ house after dinner to cry onto my mother’s shoulder. So terrified I’m struggling to find the words to write about it. Terrified.

Because the second year is when I learned that not drinking isn’t the end of the battle. That I’m still sick. I still have bipolar disorder and it’s still something that needs to be managed. The second year is when I learned that there’s a difference between giving your all and giving enough.

The second year is the year I learned that yes, I have PTSD. Yes, some horrible things have happened to me. Yes, I’ve been hurt by people, but they didn’t do this to me. The second year is when I learned that no matter how much other people have done, the fact that I’m sick is nobody’s fault and I have to stop blaming them. That blaming them is just letting them do it again and again.

This year I finally learned that if I’m ever going to get better I have to mourn the loss of normality. I have to let go of the idea that if I can just stay sober everything will be okay. I learned I have to manage my medication, go to therapy, exercise everyday, avoid caffeine, get regular sleep, and write daily. Just like not drinking, these aren’t options for me. They’re not perks. It’s just what I have to do if I want to be okay. And I want to be okay.

If I’m going to do that, some things have to change. I have to admit that I’ve been wallowing in my marriage in order to avoid discovering who I really am without booze. That I’ve let a relationship become my defining attribute, so that I don’t have to figure out what my defining attribute is. What I want it to be. I’m going to have to admit that I’ve been using love and food and video games and sleep to prop me up the way bourbon used to.

I feel like I just barely made it to the finish line this year. I feel like a dry drunk. But I also know that–just like when I quit drinking–realizing what I need to do is half the battle. So in the next year I’m going to give myself the space to figure out who I am as a person. Give myself the space to manage my illness effectively. The space to stop blaming my character flaws on what happened to me in the past. The space to stop confusing character flaws and symptoms.

Because when I hit my third year, I want to know I earned it. I want to know I’m stronger. I want to know I did it different.

36 thoughts on “Two Years Sober

  1. Ruby,

    Two years what a milestone! You must be so proud; we know none of this journey is easy. “Keep your heels, your head and your standards high.” — Coco Chanel.

    Congratulations and kind regards at this festive time. John X

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its OK you are terrified. You show also your courage. This quote came to mind:
    “Courage is the compliment of fear – A man [or woman] who is fearless cannot be courageous – (He is also a fool)” Robert Heinlein

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Congratulations.
    I feel similar. I learned this year that I, too, must put self care, medication, therapy and yoga high on my list of priorities. Because depression wasn’t solved for me either. And although my anxiety is much better with sobriety, I still have days where is don’t function well.

    I think this year I embraced that. My normal is just not exactly what I expected, but it’s still ok.

    Most of the pressure I feel comes from me.

    So, gather yourself close and hug yourself and remind yourself you are doing a huge thing, living this bright, unaltered, sober life. And it is hard but amazing.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well okay, I get it (and forgive me if this is too relentlessly optimistic), and I understand the challenge of re-framing, but it seems you’re already so so far along the pathway to having your ducks in a row for that perception of success on your third year.

    You’ve identified things which are holding you back.
    You’ve established routines to support your life operating in the best possible way
    You’ve understood your modifiable factors and have optimised them
    You’re still sober
    You’re actively engaged in pathways to better mental health
    You have a strong support network which you nurture and engage with
    You’ve pinpointed what you want to achieve from your next year.

    I know perspective doesn’t make it feel any different, but from where I sit, you’re doing brilliantly.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. While I know everyone is individual and unique, it sounds like you on right on track with most people’s experiences at the two year mark. You’ve gone through two whole calendars without a drink. No new holidays, no unknowns, the cravings have mostly passed, and what you’re left with is the shitty ugly normalcy of your new so-called life. I went through a very jaded period right around then. It was when I truly saw things for how they were. Year two was hence seeing clearly. Year three…it’s an action year. You know what’s broken and you know what you have to do. Year three is a good year. A very good year. A thousand times better than year two. At least for me. 😉

    Hey did you see my Untethered post on RoS? There’s a Cheryl Strayed quote at the very end about down on your knees in the mud healing. Wanting that healing so bad. It’s coming Ruby, it’s coming. Stay the course, do the work. Find a face to face recovery group, just to be around others who get it.

    So proud of you. You’re going to love your third year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel your pain. A year and a half for me. February 9th, 2014. Hospital. Many, many tests. Thought it was cancer for a while there. Drink & die, stop and live. I made the right choice. Sometimes it’s hard when I get all angry and stuff, but I refuse to give in. I am much bigger, mightier, stronger, tougher, determined without it. I own my life. Me. Just Me. Keep your chin up!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What Christy said about year 2 rings absolutely true for me too. Year 3 was a very good year. This is why writing and sharing helps…it’s a pattern or phase, and it will pass. Congratulations on your two years!!


  8. Oh, Ruby! I reread this twice, and I’m still searching for just the right words. I want to point out how far you’ve come and how remarkable it is to have such deep insight into yourself (and to be able to open yourself so completely, to be so vulnerable to others, to let all these strangers on the internet see the dark parts that scare you). Do you know how remarkable you are?

    When I look at my past, I see it with jaded eyes, and when I look at my present, it’s as if I’m viewing myself through a dirty window. My future is obscure. It’s easy to be discouraged, especially as I make my New Year’s resolutions and catastrophize that there’s no way I’ll be able to keep it up.

    But we’ve got this. Just as you wrote, “realizing what I need to do is half the battle.”

    It may be hard, but you WILL get through it, just as you’ve survived every other hard day of your life until now. And it will be beautiful and worth it, because you are beautiful and worth it. ❤️



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