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    Dropping by after a long absence to say that as of August 14, 2009 I’m ten years sober.

    I aimed for it, the ten year mark, one day at a time.

    I imagined being able to say, “Yup, it’s been ten years since I had a drink.” I wanted to be able to say it. So… I came back here to say it. “I did it !!!! I did it !!!! I’m so proud of myself !!!”

    I heard years ago that relapse is less likely after ten years and then even less likely after fifteen and so on, but reaching a goal can be a strange unexpected time of losing track of direction.

    I recall in years gone by, I quit for a year at least once before. I was so happy that I gotten to that point, a year sober… that I had a drink to celebrate. Yes, really. I think I planned to have the one and that probably turned into eight to ten years. Gee — strange how that has the ring of a prison sentence. Yes, I got eight to ten for dumb behaviour.

    When I finally quit ten years ago, part of it had to do with just being bored of the stopping and starting. It was whittling away my energy to keep failing.

    I posted my news in a few places online and got messages back from people I didn’t know were non drinkers; people saying how long they’d been sober. One guy on facebook said he’d been sober twelve years the first time and now five years. I was curious how and why he started drinking after twelve years. I was thinking — I don’t really know this guy, but I want to ask him. Through my experiences here on 12 Step National Meetings I felt it was OK to ask him the question directly. His relapse had to do with not having any strategies in place and he just sort of slipped and drank in a social situation. He asked me about my strategies and I wrote out a few approaches — and felt like I’d reviewed things I hadn’t thought about for a while. Useful things.

    There’s something a little weird about aiming for a day — the ten year point — and reaching it. It is both satisfying and slightly destabilizing. For myself, I am no where near having a drink, but something has shifted and that’s the other reason I’m re-connecting here. The act of writing this out is helpful to me — learning a bit more about the sense of being a bit at sea, adrift, now that I’ve met my goal of ten years.

    So, thanks for being here 12 Step National Meetings. Onward after the goal is met is not the same, not as exciting as using the goal to maintain sobriety. Again, this isn’t a matter of nearly drinking, it’s just a comment on recognizing that the work is there to do, as it shifts into a new framework. I need to be aware of where I’m at — not seeing myself as having completed a process and feeling safe. That’s the strange new feeling I have — freefalling beyond the ten year mark.

    In many ways, things didn’t get better after quitting, but they sure got easier. That is to say, I discovered it wasn’t a good idea to expect everything in life to improve once sober. When things didn’t automatically get better, it seemed like not drinking wasn’t helping, wasn’t working. In that state of mind, it seemed like returning to drinking was a viable option.

    Easier means — no more hang overs, less guilt and shame, confidence and health improving. An easier time being a human — but, I wonder, as maybe many do, maybe I have fixed enough about myself that I could have a glass and leave it at that. The memories fade and all the improvements I made seem so inherently me; it’s almost too hard to believe that I, the new me, would not be able to control my drinking. See? — lots of fresh challenges along the way.

    Here too, in this regard, reading posts on 12 Step National Meetings is helpful in recognizing types of thinking that arrive. A heads up — seeing that others have had to deal with similar things makes it easier to understand patterns of thought and appropriate reactions and responses.

    Overall, in these ten years, I’ve had a really interesting time figuring out and understanding why I drank.

    I hope that something here was useful or inspiring …or funny.

    Hang in there — it is worth it !!!


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