I am now four years sober.

The four year chip that I would've gotten, if I went to AA meetings
The four year chip that I would’ve gotten, if I went to AA meetings

Over the weekend, I hit the fourth anniversary of the day that I stopped drinking. I am now four years sober! Woooooooooooooo!

It is pretty weird to me that I don’t drink. I know lots of people who do. And I spend a lot of time with them while they’re drinking. But I still don’t do it. It’s, like, this major decision that I made and that I now stick to unswervingly regardless of circumstances. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a Christian?

I guess we all gain new identities along the way. Like, I am also a queer person (still equally weird to me, by the way). And a Democrat (sort of). And an atheist (sort of). And a science fiction writer (sort of). All things that I, in some sense, chose to espouse.

I remember four years ago, when I first quit drinking, I was really worried that I was going to become a different person. And I convinced myself that wasn’t going to happen. And, in some sense, it didn’t: I still feel pretty much the same.

But it also did.

People view me in a completely different way now. They think of me as a self-motivated, responsible person. Recently, some friends of mine in my grad program called me “a morning person.” That is so laughable to me. Yes, nowadays I wake up at 7 AM*, but no one who knew me for the first 25 years of my life would’ve ever said that I was an early riser. I made a conscious choice to start getting up at the same time every day.

Before I stopped drinking, I wasn’t a very organized or self-directed person. The slight obsessiveness that now characterizes my life is something that arose almost entirely within the last four years.

 

Anyway, I am happy to report that the year passed without significant temptations, and that I have almost no desire to drink.

I recently spoke to a former classmate who also quit drinking awhile back, and he told me that he felt like former alcoholics can’t really recover unless they work on the reason why they drank and sort out all that emotional stuff. I am not sure that I agree. I think that if you have a certain sort of brain chemistry, the reason for drinking is obvious: it feels really, really, really good.

In general, the vagueness and patchiness of the human memory is a pretty good thing. I distinctly remember how being drunk often felt extremely amazing on a physical and emotional level, and how it made life seem glamorous and beautiful. But although I can recall that I felt like that, I can’t resurrect the feeling itself.

But I am pretty sure that if I started drinking again, I’d immediately become aware of exactly how good it felt, and it would become much more difficult to justify not drinking.

That’s why I don’t drink at all. Not because drinking is some irrational compulsion that would destroy my life, but because it is a completely rational compulsion that would destroy my life. If the point of life is to feel really, really good (and a fairly good case can be made that it is), then, for some people, drinking heavily makes a lot of sense.

But since I can’t really remember that feeling, drinking seems like complete madness. I don’t have the room in my life to be out of control for even a single night, much less for days or weeks at a time.

 

*How absurd is it that 7 AM passes for early rising in the world of graduate school?

132 thoughts on “I am now four years sober.

  1. Yatin

    It’s gratifying to remain on the wagon for considerable time. I know that feeling as I off smoking for decade & a half. Not a compulsive drinker so like to make drink socially. Besides baseball sounds more fun with beer in hand 🙂

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Yes, quitting smoking is the best. I haven’t smoked in three years, too! Now that I am done with it, smoking seems like craziest habit that a person could have.

  2. behindblueeyes914

    Congrats! Wish my brother and my parents would stop as well. But I reckon I’ll be on that boat alone. Glad people have embraced your decision. Here, if you stop drinking you are an outcast and thrown to the curb.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      That seems awful. Where are you? I was pleasantly surprised that my friends in SF and DC didn’t really bother me about it (many didn’t even notice). After I stopped drinking, I realized that most of the people I know didn’t drink that heavily either.

      1. behindblueeyes914

        I live in Nebraska. I was living in a small town in which there are more bars and liquor stores than any other business. Started drinking in high school. Alcohol provided by my parents. Had big parties and if you left the party scene you were a nobody and they just stopped talking to you. My mom got sober but she returned and relapsed because all they do is drink.

        1. R. H. Kanakia

          That sucks, I am sorry to hear about your mom. For me sobriety meant fitting in better and having more fun at parties and making more friends. If it’d been the opposite, I don’t know how I could’ve stuck with it.

  3. psoriasupport

    Good job! I am dealing with psoriasis, which gets very inflamed when I drink alcohol. It was ironic that I developed it when I turned 21. I try not to drink. I still have the urge a lot of the time cuz I love to let loose once in a while… Props to you for stopping completely. At least I don’t binge drink anymore and most of the time I am good at refusing it. Since I’ve quit binge drinking I don’t get as embarrassingly belligerent either, which is good for my self worth haha.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Yeah, it’s nice to, like, remember things and not embarrass yourself. I didn’t know psoriasis and alcohol had an interrelationship. Good that you’re being proactive about managing things.

  4. katherinejlegry

    I would maintain that prioritizing feeling really really good drunk could not possibly surpass feeling really really good about caring how one’s alcoholism effects the lives of others. It might not feel “party good” or “high” good, but what you’re doing is deep and profoundly compassionate to yourself and others. After a while alcoholics don’t feel good. And so it’s awesome you quit before you felt the bad. You have have my sincere congratulations. Keep on keeping on.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      That’s definitely true. But the feeling really good from being drunk is a very strong, very physical euphoria. The goodness you feel from being compassionate isn’t like that. The truth (for me) is that human beings just aren’t designed to feel that good that often. Nowadays, I feel really, really good once in awhile. When I was drinking, it happened allllll the time. Of course, I also felt really bad all the time, which definitely sucked.

      1. katherinejlegry

        Point taken. I understand the distinction you’re making and agree in the difference on a basic level. I guess a “physical euphoria” doesn’t feel as good as “balance” to me, personally. I also outgrew my original idea of “happy” but admittedly that took a lot of years. In any case, happy 4th anniversary!

  5. tracy fulks

    Amazing post, and congratulations on a big milestone. November 11 was 2 years for me, and I love what you said, “That’s why I don’t drink at all. Not because drinking is some irrational compulsion that would destroy my life, but because it is a completely rational compulsion that would destroy my life.” It made such perfect sense. If you’re interested, click over and check out my 1 Year Sober and 2 Years sober posts. Thank you for sharing, and keep trudging the road my friend.

  6. AndroidNurd

    I don’t even know you, but I’m proud of you for your awesome accomplishment. Cherish the extra years you will live because of it. My father, an amazing dad, but also an alcoholic sadly passed away because of his bad health due to drinking. I’m not a heavy drinker, nor do I drink daily, but this passed month was really hard on me emotionally with losing my dad. I found myself drinking constantly to make me feel better. I had to pull away from it. Luckily it has not been hard so far. But thank you for this post. I’m going to share it on my blog and add too it. Thanks!

  7. darkmuze

    I have a friend and uncle who were alcoholics and neither
    drink anymore….it seems like you have made amends with
    the past, and going along smoothly to becoming who you
    were meant to be all along…Congratulations, and best
    wishes always:)

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Yep! Luckily I didn’t do too many terrible things, so didn’t have that many amends. I’d hate to be someone who needed to apologize to ton of people (and having to do it while sober, too…)

      1. lowcarblifestyleblog

        She doesn’t go to AA meetings anymore, she stopped going after her 5th anniversary because she was certain that she no longer needed to attend the meetings. We were going to a Science of Mind church which teaches most of the things that are taught in the AA meetings so she felt that just the church and the support of her friends and family was enough. She did keep in touch with her sponsor for a while… This has worked for her but I know that it is not recommended for individuals that need constant support from their sponsors, etc…

  8. Mark Aldrich

    Congratulations! I have over three-and-a-half years sober now, and I am a “meeting maker,” myself. Your insights into yourself are spot on: It felt good. For me, when I was at my most downtrodden and miserable when I was actively drunk , I wanted to be drunk more than I wanted to be alive. I was “suicidal” without contemplating actual suicide, because if I had offed myself, I wasn’t going to be able to get drunk any more. I had a compulsion, which has lifted, and I trudge that Road of Happy Destiny a day at a time, happy in a life that is no longer lived in insanity. Four years and a few days is admirable.

  9. runningonsober

    Huge congrats! I’ll have 3 years in May. We all quit for different reasons, people don’t have to wait for anything bad to happen. For some it’s just a lifestyle choice, and I think it’s awesome you figured out that out at, what sounds like, a pretty young age. I’m glad you wrote about it. Thanks!

    And thanks to WordPress for highlighting this one. Kudos.
    – Christy

  10. Brad S.

    Not drinking isn’t what makes a person feel like a Christian, knowing Jesus does. It’s not about external behavior, but the love of God, expressing itself through you that is the only way to get the feeling. And it’s good.

  11. Wayne Bisset

    Well done. Keep vigilant. Complacency is deadly and alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful, not to mention patient. I made 7 years sober and then had that ONE drink. 9 years later still cannot make one years sober. :}

  12. andyroofs

    Right On!
    I like the saying “The Gift Of Awareness” life got so much more real when I found sobriety.

  13. tvkapherr

    Excellent. I’ll hit 4 years 2 days ago. Congratulations. I like to think of it as, everyone has an alcohol quota. Most never reach that mark in a life time. I happened to consume my quota and lived to talk about it. 🙂

  14. Freddy Gtz

    The whole world would be so different if we all decided we want to be a better version of ourselves. Just because we realize we can be better. Congrats, I will certanly share your post to my friends.

  15. percolationnation

    I don’t know you, but I’m glad to hear that you’re 4 years sober. That’s a long ways to go. I am only a few weeks but my end goal is similar to what you have accomplished. Keep it up!

  16. mommyx4boys

    Congratulations i am also a recovering drug addict and alcoholic i have been clean and sober for years and six months it is awesome . However i can not be around people who still do those things i know after a while i would end up justifying it for myself and i would be lost again. So be careful that you don’t slip and good luck

  17. Ddoesglutenfree

    Congrats on 4 years, I have been not drinking for about 3 years, more to do with illness condition rather than being alcoholic but a Member of my family has been sober for about 20 years, the first few are the hardest I am told then it becomes more was of life than something you need to remember yo do, keep up good work . The funniest thing I find about being sober is how much fun it us to see what people do when they are drunk.

  18. lifewithkaye

    Congratulations. I’m a friend of Bill’s. I’ve known him all my life but didn’t get close with him until about three years ago. It’s amazing what sobriety does to your life, and how wonderful the changes each year are. I hope you celebrate your “birthday” and have many more to come. One day at a time! 🙂

  19. Lu's Logic

    Congratulations! I remember the days when my husband was an active alcoholic and how horrible it was for both of us. Four years sobriety later made a huge difference in our lives. Everything was not perfect, but we were happy.

  20. possesshispromises

    Congratulations on your great accomplishment! You have great discipline.

    You write, “I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a Christian?”

    Self-control is one description of the fruit of a Christian. A Christ follower has a freedom that is realized from the fact that he can rest in the righteousness of Jesus. He paid the price for my sin, your sin. It’s not up to me. You achieved four years of sobriety on your own. For another four years of sobriety, it is up to you.

    I am a sinner by nature. No matter how hard I try not to sin, I’ll sin. I can’t do it on my own. That’s where Jesus comes in. I have the freedom to rest in His goodness, HIs righteousness because I’m His.

    May you experience true freedom! Karen

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Yeah, what I meant was that I wonder if that’s what it feels like to be a Christian on a social level: to have an identity that’s so essential to you and yet so distinct from the people around you.

      1. possesshispromises

        You’re right, our hope and our destiny is not this world, and this world and the things in this world are not as important to us. Yet, the people are. You’re important.

        We have a love for others and a longing for others to know Jesus. To bring them into the family of believers.

        The Christian “high” is a deep relationship with Jesus and a deep relationship with His followers.

        Blessings, Karen

  21. roboticzamat

    Congratulations, mate!

    You are AWESOME for getting there!

    I wish more people would realize that drinking is no solution and simply degrades in more ways than one; not only affecting oneself, but also those who care about you. I hope you never look back and have the great life you deserve! ❤

  22. nikkiharvey

    My mum is 6 years sober. When she told me she had started going to AA I was really confused. I didn’t realise there was a problem. I thought it was normal to drink alcohol as soon as you got in from work until you passed out on the sofa at 8pm. I’m so proud of her for reaching 6 years and I now realise that it wasn’t normal and she’s much happier now and now she’s always there for me when I need her rather than passed out. I’ve just given up drinking (one week sober) but I’m not an alcoholic so I’m not going to AA, it just makes me physically ill when I already have a physical illness and I could see myself becoming an alcoholic if I continued down the road I was on. Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on 4 years.

  23. goofyfoot82

    I quit on June 6th 2007, yes D-Day. I did not realize it at the time, I was drunk. Since 6/7/07 I have sipped one half a beer and almost got ill. Only by renewing myself with God and Jesus is the only way I have maintained. The people, programs and situations in my life they have provided. Congratulations to you and I understand your views and thoughts. I rely on faith… but it has to be in yourself and something else. If not you will only defeat yourself…Peace….

  24. debedmunds

    Congrats! Staying sober especially in times of stress are the hardest for me…I’ll be 23 years sober this year! Give yourself a pat on the back!

  25. sphoenix14

    Well done 🙂 I’ve recently reached the 1 year mark (in January), and it’s a good feeling to know how far you’ve come. I had a lot of issues with alcohol, relied on it far too much far too often. So I had to break away from it, not just temporarily, but forever. Here’s to the next year for us both 🙂

  26. k2cat

    Well done. I have stopped drinking but only for 7 weeks. I wasn’t a heavy drinker but consistent for most of my life. I probably drank more when I was younger but now feel like I don’t want to for health reasons. You are an inspiration 🙂

  27. Ryan

    Congratulations. Really. This is cause for congratulations. I know how it is. I struggle with this sh*t daily. Hugs, buddy.

  28. Morguie

    Congratulations! That is really a great thing. Something for others to notice and model after. That it gives reason to hope that it is doable and has been done. Good luck on your continued path to happiness and sobriety. Also, congrats for being Freshly Pressed.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Thanks! I know that I wouldn’t be sober if people close to me hadn’t sobered up first in a pretty public manner. It does help to know that you’re not alone and that sobriety is a viable option. It must be really hard for people who have to do it in isolation.

  29. alexagarcia55

    That is such an awesome accomplishment! I am very proud wow! Even though I’m a teenager……

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