Paulelmo's Blog

Starting all over at none (Thoughts on how we measure sobriety)

alcoholism, alcohol addiction and people concept - male alcoholic drinking beer from glass at night

It always interests me when someone falls off the wagon and others make mention of “All that hard work down the drain.” Say a guy has been sober for ten years, and, for whatever reason, to celebrate he just gets fall down drunk. He would have been sober for 3,650 days, or so, but then he has to start counting again. Yes, this is unfortunate, but it doesn’t negate all he learned about being sober during those ten years.

We’re such counters that we focus on the number rather than what it represents. To say that all that hard work is down the drain is to say that the guy who has one sober day in, after ten years of successful sobriety, has the same odds of staying sober as the guy who has one sober day in, but who has never been successfully sober before.

I’ve been sober somewhere in the neighborhood of 2400 days, and, while I would hate to fall off and begin counting again, I would much rather that happen than to be back at “one” for the first time.

It is lamentable when someone falls off, but it doesn’t mean that all that hard work is down the drain.

Sometimes I dream about drinking, and it’s always in context to my sobriety. That is to say: When I dream about drinking, I do so knowing that I have spent a significant period of time sober and that (in the dream) I am no longer such. Sometimes I write those dreams. In this case, I made it around to these thoughts.

Hope someone can get some use out of it.

Be well, and be kind to one another.

Prayers from up on the mountain.

***

Starting all over at one
(Thoughts on how we measure sobriety)

He had tasted it in a recent dream
of days spent running the streets his youth.
Back to being hoodlums looking to hoodle
and other regretful truths.
Bought in a State Store that went to seed in the Clinton years
from a man who had done the same in the time between;
Two bottles of Schnapps and some friends he didn’t know
seemed to be all that sleep would need.

There’s always a sadness when he drinks in his dreams,
always a sadness for the death of the streak,
always this feeling of undoing the progress
of the days that have passed since he last took a drink,
always the hatred to begin counting again,
to swallow his pride as the number of days
goes back to just one,
but on waking he knows
that’s not how it would be
because all the days of progress can’t be undone;
he’s got 24 hundred days learning how to be sober
that wouldn’t be erased if he had to start all over at none.

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