On August 20, I celebrated two years of continuous sobriety.
While the first year coin seemed like a big deal at the time, this second year coin means I started something and stuck with it. I get caught up being busy and often forget how far I've come. That busy-ness (i.e., work, comedy, relationship) wouldn't be possible if I was still drinking.
On my sobriety date, I got dinner with my partner at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant and had a chill night. For my first year anniversary, some friends and I got dinner and we saw (ironically) Harvey at my favorite, best movie theater - The Music Box. This year, I was feeling solitary.
To be honest, Year 2 didn't feel real until I went to my home meeting and got the golden bad boy pictured above, which I now carry around with me. I can't thank my sober friends (sponsors/ex-lovers, etc.) enough for their support. Also pictured: a squid and a little positive note I keep at work.
So now what? Well, I wanted to use this post talk a bit about a question I still receive all the time - "How do you do it?" I wrote a two parter about this in the past, but embarking on total sobriety and making it stick are two different things, so here are the main things that have kept me sober:
• Going to meetings.
By going to meetings, I've been able to meet people who have similar goals. Even if I don't go to meetings regularly, I can hit up these sober friends for coffee or we can text when we're feeling down. (Shoutout to my friend Annie for always sending me cat memes!)
I say this with all the love in the world: if you're someone who is struggling with drugs or alcohol and wants to get better but says "I can't go to a meeting because --" and it your reason why doesn't have to do with fearing for your physical safety or an inability to physically attend meetings, I urge you to reevaluate why you aren't going.
That isn't to say that meetings are THE way to get sober.
It found it easier to find like-minded people, change up my schedule and build a community when I embarked on going meetings.
Plus, when you're in a group of sober people, you'll find that your problems (which seems so monumental) are not unique. As alone as you feel, there are others who wanna help.
• Asking for help when I need it.
Even if you feel like "I am better than those losers, I can do this," bear in mind that brilliant doctors, lawyers, writers, actors - all of them have said "to hell with it - I need help" and accepted help to get sober.
Whether that's going to meetings, going to therapy, taking medication or even going to in or out-patient therapy, ask for help! You'll be so surprised how many people want you to get better.
Do I sometimes hate the help that's offered? Yes. I do.
Is it very trial and error, even two years in? YES, IT IS.
But, honestly, saying "wow I can't do this, I have no idea what I'm doing" is very liberating and has helped immensely.
• Accepting that things must change.
My sober friends are sick of hearing me talk about it, but I love Russell Brand's book, Recovery. It is hilarious and heartbreaking and so relatable. In it, he reframes the classic 12 Step Method.
My favorite step that I think about all the time is described as such: "Step 7: Are you willing to live in a new way that’s not all about you and your previous, fucked up stuff? You have to."
When I spoke at a meeting recently, I talked about how important that last sentence is - you HAVE to. It takes the want and the option out of it entirely. You can't just try to change - you HAVE to change.
It's so hard to accept necessary change! Quitting drinking is one thing, making big sweeping emotional changes is another.
For me, staying sober means staying emotionally honest. To do that, I have to do uncomfortable things like change my routine, change where I hang out and who I hang out with. It's lonely and uncomfortable, but both feelings are temporary - the rewards I've gotten from staying sober are innumerable.
If you're struggling, reach out to a friend, google information about recovery groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery are the big ones), and think about what changes you could make to feel better. I say this a lot but I'll say it again: if I can do it, so can you!