Five Things I’ve Learned from Spending 200 Days Sober

This week, Dan tells you stuff that might have been obvious to him, if only he hadn’t ruined to the opportunity to learn by getting shitfaced all the time

Advertisements

I usually write this blog on Saturdays, but I’m breaking that schedule to write this very special post. It’s very special because in nine minutes’ time, according my sobriety tracker app on my iPhone, I’ll be 200 days sober. It’s also “very special” because I want you to read on to the end.

When I first started writing this blog, I remember leaving my office two or three posts in and exclaiming to my girlfriend, “Wow, writing this shit’s really helping me stay on the wagon and forget about booze, but I don’t know how many posts I can write!” I figured max twenty, and then I’d be done. I’d have documented everything there was to document about my sobriety.

How wrong I was.

I’m almost sixty posts in and while I wouldn’t say I’ve just scratched the surface, I would say I’ve only put a tiny dent in it.

insurance-539659_640.jpg
Beating panels instead of wives.

Before I got sober, I used to think of a hangover as dehydration, anxiety, and a headache that I had to ride out before I felt well enough to drink again. I’ve realized now that a hangover is starting the process of learning all the shit everyone else learned as an adult while I focussed on bringing my drinking A-game every day, and that the three symptoms mentioned above are trivial in comparison.

So what did you learn in those 200 days, Dan?

  1. Relaxing is an acquired skill

This one I’ve learned just recently, as I’ve been forced to spend four weeks free from work, as my dumb workplace is closed for the summer. I was in fifth gear all the time I was hungover, working my ass off, writing these books and going a million miles an hour at my day gig, and then at the end of the day I forced myself to relax by getting shitfaced. After taking away alcohol, I didn’t know how you don’t do anything and feel okay about it, aka relax. I’d sit by a picturesque lake and read a book, going for the occasional swim, and look around and be unsure if I was doing it right. I didn’t know if I was doing it right because it felt like I should be doing something else. I was on red alert. This feeling subsided and I now feel fine not doing anything. I’m now nailing relaxing, just like everyone else who didn’t spend every moment they weren’t working shitfaced.

girl-1733352_640.jpg
This lady – I wanna say at the young age of twenty-five? – is already an advanced “relaxer.”

2. Hanging out with people and speaking to them makes me feel good

At the end of my career as an active alcoholic, I’d gotten to the point where I refused to do anything apart from hang out in my apartment watching movies. If I got invited to someone’s birthday dinner, I’d go along, but I wouldn’t feel over the moon about it. How dare they request my presence on a random Sunday, when I could be doing the best thing in the world: drinking myself into oblivion. I’m still dealing with feeling resentful towards people who invite me to hang out with them, and my mood is at its lowest the couple hours before I leave my apartment to do just that. But I now notice, because I’m not drunk when I leave, that hanging out with them, talking to them, and making them laugh enriches my sense of wellbeing. I leave with a smile on face and warmth in my heart.

adult-3086307_640.jpg
Hanging out..

3. Time goes by way slower

I wasn’t a blackout drinker, so I never lost any consciousness time, apart from this one time I fell off the wagon and thought I could still drink eight super-strength craft ales. I came to to find out I’d started watching Muppet Christmas Carol, and that I needed to go “downstairs,” despite living in a one-floor apartment. But since getting sober, my perception of the passing of time is completely different. My summer holiday, consisting of four weeks, went past in the relative blink of an eye when I got drunk the entirety of it. Sitting here now, three and a half weeks into my first one sober, it feels like I’ve had four summer holidays in a row.

clock-3179167_640.jpg
Now for every tick there’s a tock.

4. Other people now interest me

When I got shitfaced all the time, other people were just obstacles to navigate throughout the day, and the conversations I had with them necessary evils. Now I enjoy speaking to them, and as I smile at them, actually listening to what they say, I find myself interested in what makes them tick and why they are the way they are. After being sober for 200 days, I find other people and their complexities fascinating.

obstacle-647050_640.jpg
“Get the fuck out of my way. I’m trying to get over this obstacle.”

5. Alcohol is evil

I used to think that I was broken, that I was part of a small demographic of people who couldn’t control my drinking. And that’s true, in a way. But I now realize that alcohol’s a little like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. It’s tricksy, telling you shit all the time to trick you into consuming more of it and to fuck your shit up in general. If you drink enough of it, it’ll escalate itself to being the highest priority in your life, and even though you know it’s destroying your life, you can’t comprehend living without it. People aren’t the problem, the mass normalized consumption of a drug that fuck’s with your mind is. I learned this before I became a full-blown alcoholic, when I witnessed a guy act irrationally about being told off for drinking at lunch when I, alongside him, was completing my teaching qualification. That’s what alcoholism is, I thought, but I unlearned that shit when I started drinking enough. Alcohol didn’t want me to remember that story, because it would’ve broken the elaborate delusion it had created in my mind where it meant everything and everything else—the stuff that really matters: relationships with other human beings, success, happiness—meant nothing.

rattlesnake-653642_640.jpg
“Drink some more booze,” sssssighed the snake.

So there you have it. That went much better than I thought it was going to. If you’ve spent a decent amount of time sober, or even just a few days, feel free to write the shit you’ve learned in the comments section below.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober, and if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times or you found it informative, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head on over to my Facebook page, say hi, and throw me a like.

The Alcoholic Tautologist’s Moment of Clear Clarity

Dan discusses the notion of an alcoholic’s moment of clarity.

If you’ve experienced life on planet earth, you’ve probably heard of Pulp Fiction, an iconic movie about the intertwining lives of criminals.

In the final scene, one of those criminals, Jules Winfield, vows to give up his life of crime. He’s experienced a moment of clarity. He’s seen the error of his ways. He likens this experience to the moment of clarity an alcoholic experiences before he can truly get and stay sober.

Jules Winfield, having blown someone’s head off and spent the morning cleaning his car of brain and skull fragments, is sitting in a diner with his literal partner in crime Vincent Vega, to whom he’s explaining this notion.

A moment later, two characters, who are seen in the same diner in the epilogue discussing the best places to rob—their criteria being ease, risk, and monetary gain—get out of their seats decide to rob the place.

A conflict between these characters ensues, which ends in Jules Winfield leaving the diner with his wallet, but without the money inside, which he lets the robbers take. You get the impression during this conflict that Jules Winfield, the more professional and coolheaded of the criminals, would be able to shoot the two robbers, leave with his own money and theirs, and probably the robbers’ underwear, too, if he were so inclined.

But he decides not to.

pegs-2664512_640
After stealing this person’s underwear, Jules neatly arranged the clothes pegs.

But back to this “moment of clarity” the alcoholic experiences.

I’ve heard it mentioned in sobriety culture a few times, the most noteworthy of which is a former member of a biker gang’s, a hell’s angel, who’d taken drugs and drank pretty much constantly most of his adult life, and who woke up behind a parked car one Monday morning.

He rose onto an elbow, looked around, and realized he didn’t have a single memory from the last three days; he decided that would never happen again. He left the biker gang, got sober, and is currently an advocate for sobriety, sharing his story on the podcast circuit, which is how I came to hear his story.

I believe I experienced a similar moment of clarity, though mine is much less dramatic. Absurdly, it isn’t that clear to me now. I don’t remember where I was, or under what circumstances I experienced it, I just remember it happened at Christmas, when I’d just started drinking again after almost five months’ sobriety, and what I thought.

This part of the story, at least, is still as clear as a summer’s day. I could envisage being ten years older and battling the same problem. I could imagine myself clearly, slightly more gray in my beard, salt-and-pepper hair, being in exactly same position. Still drinking, still flirting with the idea of quitting for good.

The moment of clarity that day, the revelation, was that I accepted that time was going to go by whether I drank or not, and that I’d do anything to make sure I spent those ten years sober, instead of filling that time with drinking and regrets. With what-ifs.

cheers-839865_640
“Here’s to a lifetime of not realizing our full potential.”

After an alcoholic’s moment of clarity comes the time where he has to wear the trousers and walk the walk, or whatever idiom you want to come up with.

Jules Winfield’s moment of truth is refusing to shoot other criminals in the head for having the gall to attempt to take his wallet.

Mine was distinctly less impressive, but I like to think equally as trying. I was sitting in a movie theater on New Year’s Day, drinking a cola, watching a movie of which I’d greatly anticipated the release.

The old alcoholic’s voice inside my head, which I’d ignored through New Year’s Eve and the day before, started to speak to me, telling me to go to the bar to get one of my favorite craft beers. He probably called me a pussy a few times, and mocked the pattern on my tie.

It’s here Jules Winfield’s story and my own converge again. In the first scene featuring Jules and Vincent, Vincent is listing the differences between Europe and the US, as he’s just returned to live in the States after a six-year period of residing in Amsterdam. One of the differences he points out is the opportunity to drink a glass of beer in a movie theater. “And I’m not talking no paper cup, a glass.”

popcorn-1433326_640
The movies.

I’d taken advantage of that opportunity many times in that same movie theater and when I did, I would think of that scene from time to time, and think it was cool that I could sit and watch a movie with a glass of beer in my hand. And that I could get up when I’d finished and go to the bar to get another. And another.

That day I didn’t take that opportunity. I was content to sit with my plastic bottle of cola, my paper cup. I decided that movie theater could have my ticket money and the exorbitant sum I’d paid for the cola, but I wasn’t going to let it serve me a drink that could lead to my eventually losing my wallet.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage. I’m going through a bit of dry spell when it comes to writing comedy, but on the off chance this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head over to my Facebook page, say hi, and throw me a like.

It Only Took Me Six Months of Not Boozing To Learn How To Relax

The last two weeks I’ve taken away my largest barrier to staying sober: I’ve kicked ass at relaxing.

Today I’ll be collecting my six-month chip at AA, and it’s only now that I realize fully what booze took away from me for the almost ten years that I abused it: my ability to relax.

I work hard, but I don’t want a medal for it. I enjoy working hard. I get up at five AM every morning, and on the days that I’m motivated, I head to my office at around 5:45 to write trashy fiction, a mug of green tea in one hand, a pint of water in the other, and my headphones dangled around my neck.

women-1209678_640.jpg
“What’s the name of the jerk who wrote this trashy bullshit again?”

I write my one-thousand-plus words just in time to work out for ten minutes before I go to work. My job’s intense. I work in a kindergarten, and it works out that there’s a six-kids-to-every-adult ratio, so my job is basically being a shitty uncle to six kids every day.

By the time I get home, I’m spent. Following a recipe for dinner requires reading it upwards of twenty times, and I still usually forget an ingredient or two.

The last couple weeks I’ve had that routine taken away from me, as it’s my summer holiday. Four weeks where I get to turn off the motor.

The start of the holiday was make or break for my sobriety. I knew if I made it through these four weeks, I could be sober for the rest of my life. What I didn’t know is that these four weeks would allow me to find a peace of mind that I’ve never had.

An often-touted excuse or reason to drink is its relaxing effect. I get it. People work hard. The description of my workday above probably isn’t unusual. And once you gear up to fifth gear, it’s difficult to get down to neutral in the four or five hours you have before you have to hit the hay, after which you’ll wake up and start your workday again.

But what happens when the time you have to relax is days on end, and the only way you know how to relax is by drinking a metric shit-ton of alcohol? Alcoholism happens.

pretty-woman-1509956_640.jpg
This woman is searching an idyllic relaxation spot for her lost bottle of White Zin.

The last two weeks I’ve taken away my largest barrier to staying sober: I’ve kicked ass at relaxing.

At least I tried to kick ass at it in the beginning of the holiday. I ran my holiday like a military operation. I still got up early to write my one-thousand-plus words of trashy fiction, and thereafter I’d plan what I was going to do that day to a T—swimming and chilling out by a lake by a certain time, watching a movie by midday, after which I’d prepare lunch. The rest of day was equally planned to “maximize” my relaxation.

But here’s the thing about relaxation. You don’t plan the shit out of it, and you can’t plan for it to happen, which is the way I relaxed for the last seven summers. I bought my supplies at the vinmonopolet (the Norwegian equivalent of a liquor store, just government owned and ran and regulated), and I’d relax the shit out of the day by drinking myself into a semi-dream-state alcoholic abyss.

abyss-2036211_640.jpg
A regular abyss.

This is the first summer I’ve taken alcohol out of the equation, and I didn’t fare well in the beginning. I got grouchy, and I was easily bored.

But something miraculous happened. It at least feels miraculous to me. I learned to embrace boredom, and the turning point happened on a camping trip.

With my girlfriend, I hiked for two and a half hours to an idyllic spot by a picture-perfect lake. We arrived early, and all there was to do was to setup camp, swim, read, smoke cigarettes, and stare out at the lake. The walk there was taxing, but after only a couple hours I was ready to bale. I’d planned this trip, and now it was happening, but I’d done everything I’d planned to do at least once. I was ready to plan the next thing, and I was willing to walk another two and a half hours so I could get to planning it.

reading-925589_640.jpg
“You’ll relax, God damn it, if it’s the last thing you do.”

Really, I wanted to escape relaxation, because I didn’t know what it meant, not without alcohol.

I stayed at that campsite, and I forced myself to be bored for five or so hours until it was a reasonable time to head to my sleeping bag.

I came back not a changed man, but with a new skill. A skill I’d never learned because I’d never gone through the process to get it, because I drank and drank and drank.

This summer I learned that life’s boring from time to time, and that’s okay. It never was when I got shitfaced all the time.


Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober.

My works of trashy fiction can be checked out here.

Click on this link to head over to my Facebook page and throw me a like.

It’s the Best Day Ever Because SpongeBob Says So

This week, Dan dissects SpongeBob SquarePants’s ‘The Best Day Ever’ and finds hidden meaning.

Tomorrow I’m celebrating six months of sobriety. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone. There’s a good reason for that. Holidays from work have always been a sticking point, and they come around every four or five months.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, staying sober by filling up your days with work and chores is a walk in the park, just as long as that walk in the park involves working your ass off as you do it, by picking up litter or some shit.

Right now, I’m facing the biggest challenge I’ll face this year, my first as someone sober for the rest of his life: being forced to relax for four weeks during the summer because my dumb workplace is closed.

I know. What a bitch.

pool-690034_640.jpg
A lady relaxing in a pool, kicking ass and taking names.

I’ve lived in Oslo, Norway, for seven years, and six of those summers I’ve spent every minute either shitfaced or hungover or working on getting shitfaced.

I have a huge problem with summers, and free time in general, but I’m a week into this one, and so far so good—apart from one day, where I decided the sky was falling.

Feelings of my not maximizing the summer holiday started to fester in my mind, and before I knew it, I could see the negative in everything.

Every summer, I’d watch The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie while blotto. I’ve been reluctant to watch it this year, even though I consider it to be one of the greatest comedy movies ever produced. I’m afraid it’ll remind me of dark times, or trigger me to go out and get a collection of my favourite beers.

But I have listened to some of the music from that movie.

sponge-2758309_640
If you’re unfamiliar with the show that’s spawned one amazing movie and one not so great, it features Bob, an anthropomorphic sea sponge with a cardboard box for pants.

I experienced an oh-shit moment while listening to one song in particular: SpongeBob SquarePants singing one of his greatest hits, ‘The Best Day Ever.’

Right after, I remembered a scene from White Men Can’t Jump. At least I think it’s that movie. Wesley Snipes’s character lectures Woody Harrelson’s character on why white men shouldn’t play Jimi Hendrix’s music, because they “listen to” it and don’t “hear” it. Semantics and bullshit racial rhetoric aside, I get what that character means now, though I’d associate the verb “to listen,” as opposed to “to hear,” with a higher level of understanding for the music one plays.

This summer, I realized I’d never really listened to that song before. I’d heard it many times, but never fully understood its meaning.

girl-1990347_640.jpg
“She listening, but she not hearing.”

How does this relate to my sobriety and this particular juncture of it?

In the song, SpongeBob isn’t experiencing the best day ever; he’s just singing about having to do mundane, everyday shit. He sings about brushing his teeth and taking two hours to tie his shoelaces, and to Bob, this is the best day ever. In fact, when he sings the first chorus, when he sings the titular lyric for the first time, Bob hasn’t even got out of bed yet. It’s not about the day working out just the way he wants it to; it’s about Bob’s outlook.

Bob believes it’s the best day ever, and it turns out to be so.

The reason I’ve always struggled to stay sober during the summer is because I’m determined to make every day the best day ever. I work hard all year, and by God I’m determined to make the most of those four weeks. My solution was beer—lots of it.

On that day I snapped, I think it was because a little part of me still believes that I need to get drunk to have a great time, to make the most of that day.

This year, I’ve been trying to make every day the best day ever by filling my time up with activities such as swimming in picturesque lakes, cycling through forests that would be a photographer’s dream, and watching all my favorite movies. And up until that day I snapped it was working. But I realize now that getting bored is an inevitable part of the summer. I just never had the chance to notice or experience it, because I’ve never experienced this time of the year not shitfaced.

Even though it’s the summer, I have to brush my teeth and tie my shoelaces and clean the kitchen, and I’m cool with that now, because it’s the best day ever every day. Not because everything works out the way I want it to, or because I fill it up with entertaining and life-enriching activities, but because I’m sober.

I’m cool with the boredom, now, and it only took listening to—and not just hearing—SpongeBob to realize why I should be.


Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post and want to read more cartoon-character-themed posts, Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage to receieve email notifications. And if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head over to my Facebook page and throw me a like. It’ll go someway to making this the best day ever for me.

Are You Ready To Admit The Five-Hundred-Pound Gorilla Needs To Stay In His Cage Yet?

This week, Dan passes off more wisdom as his own.

Around three years ago, I admitted to myself I’m an alcoholic. But it wouldn’t be until around two years later that I admitted I was powerless over alcohol, which is the first step of the AA program.

I wasn’t a member of AA at the time, so I didn’t go through this step officially, documented and with a sponsor.

In fact, I didn’t admit I was powerless over alcohol, or at least I didn’t phrase it like that.

I admitted that booze had me by the balls, and no matter how many breaks I took, and how long they were, our relationship would always be the same: I would remain the green guy in prison, alcohol the possibly homosexual prison-yard bully who grabs a handful of my balls whenever he wants, whispering rapey promises in my ear as he does.

For some people, admitting they’re an alcoholic and powerless over alcohol coincide. For others, they admit the powerless thing first, and the alcoholic revelation comes later. Think of the period of time between both revelations as purgatory, or a way station. In order to progress in your recovery, both need to be admitted.

Of course, for some, they admit they’re an alcoholic, but never recognize they’re powerless over alcohol.

I have a family member who’s caught in this way station now. They know they have a major problem with booze, but they’re not ready to accept that they can never again go back to drinking like a regular person. When you’re talking about moderating your drinking, you’re not there yet.

A couple months of sobriety are easily achieved when you know there’s a glass of your favorite tipple at the end of it.

eve-1071355_640.jpg
“I’m going to have a dry January, just to prove to all the haters out there that I’m not an alcoholic.”

Remember the guy who told me the metaphor about which I blogged? The one with the cucumber and the pickle? A couple months ago, he told me a great parable of this period, the alcoholic’s purgatory.

Imagine a guy who has a five-hundred-pound gorilla as a pet. I don’t know if five-hundred pounds is about the size fully grown gorillas reach. If it isn’t, imagine it’s a teenage gorilla.

That teenage or fully grown gorilla is kept in a cage for obvious reasons. The guy knows how dangerous he is. He likes his facial skin wear it is, and he doesn’t think it would make a great Halloween mask.

But that gorilla, despite possibly being a teenager, is one charming motherfucker.

Oh, he can also talk, which I forgot to mention.

gorilla-3320487_640.jpg
“Guy just remembered the gorilla can talk. That seems legit.”

Slowly, bit by bit, as the guy visits him to feed and give him water, he gains the guy’s confidence and manages to convince him he should let him out of his cage for a while. He’ll be a good gorilla.

So the guy does.

The gorilla beats the shit out of the dude. I mean fucks him up bad. Someway, somehow, the guy manages to get the gorilla back in the cage. Maybe he drugged him, or maybe the gorilla just got bored of beating the fuck out of him and went back in willingly.

It’s a gaping plot hole in this story, but whatever. The guy’s super pissed at his gorilla, but that ill will pales in comparison to the shame and embarrassment he feels at having been tricked.

depression-1252577_640.png
All expected thoughts for the easily-tricked talking-teenage-gorilla owner.

The gorilla’s still his pet. He made a lifelong commitment to him. He can’t give him away like a Christmas-present puppy when he’s no longer cute.

The guy has to turn up to feed him, to give him water, and during these times the gorilla starts to turn on the charm again. He tells the guy he’d like to come out of the cage, and it’ll be different this time. There’s no way he’ll beat the fuck out of him.

Despite his bruises being fresh and the cuts unhealed, the guy is easily tricked. He lets that teenage gorilla out of the cage, and the inevitable happens. The gorilla beats the fuck out of him. Shit, this time he goes even wilder than last time, making the guy the object of moves performed by professional wrestlers. He fucks the guy up bad.

Someway, somehow, the guy manages to get the gorilla back in the cage. This time he realizes the gorilla needs to stay in there. He can’t be trusted. When he turns up to feed the gorilla after this second beating, and the gorilla starts lying to him, telling him it’ll be different this time, turning on the charm, the guy looks at his bruises and fresh cuts and tells the gorilla to go fuck himself.

But those cuts always heal, and the bruises turn from blue to purple to yellow, before eventually fading. The guy goes through this cycle of the gorilla gaining his confidence anew, of getting the shit beaten out of him, and getting the gorilla back in the cage many times.

I know what you’re thinking: Wait a minute. Doesn’t the guy have to clean the cage out, so doesn’t he have to let the gorilla out regularly anyway?

Just ignore that and think about the story.

It can end in two ways: the guy can let the gorilla out one time too many times, and the gorilla beats the shit out of him to the point where he dies; or the second one is that the guy can hold on to the mistrust he has for the gorilla, reminding himself of it every day, long after the bruises and cuts have healed, and successfully keep the gorilla in the cage.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober for more posts where I take someone else’s intellectually property and do a bad job of relaying it to you. And if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, or you found it insightful, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head over to my dark corner of Facebook and throw me a like. At least say hi, after which I can convince you to throw me a like.

I Now Fully Understand This “One Day At A Time” Shit

This week, Dan talks sobriety 101, not in an exercise to teach others, but to teach his slow-ass-learner self.

Back when I started trying to get sober about the time I started this blog, I didn’t have a crazy amount of respect for the whole one-day-at-a-time philosophy. I’d obviously come across it in popular culture, and had heard it repeated ad nauseam in sobriety culture, but I always thought it was for losers nothing like I.

I have a shit-ton of self-confidence. Dick swinging, I once went to a job interview carrying an acoustic guitar, which I played for the interviewers. The interview was for a gig in a kindergarten, but still, from their reaction, I’m pretty sure this was the first time this had ever happened, and it’s probably a safe bet that I’ll be the last to do so in their careers.

geek-499140_640.jpg
Losers nothing like I.

Armed with my cocaine-high-level self-confidence, I figured taking sobriety one day at a time was for people who weren’t going to be amazing at this, which I obviously was. I figured that philosophy was like training wheels for small kids. Don’t worry, guy. I’ll go ahead and skip the training wheels and go right for the big-boy bike. A helmet? Nah, I don’t need that.

Instead of making a daily goal every day of staying sober, I made the lofty goal of staying sober the rest of my life, and of course I was going to nail it, but more on this later.

knight-3449326_640.jpg
This guy’s sad he got pretend killed in a reenactment.

Two years later, I have a much better perspective on the world and success and happiness. I now have much more humility, I have a little less self-confidence (which is probably a good thing), and I no longer think most problems can be solved by strumming a few open chords.

The biggest change in me is I’m taking sobriety fully seriously for the first time. I know what I’m up against, and how difficult it is to succeed. I’m almost making it #1 on my list of priorities.

Last week at Alcoholics Anomalous, the topic of discussion for sharing was this bumper-sticker philosophy of staying sober one day at a time. I mumbled some bullshit, and threw in a few jokes, and everyone laughed and learned nothing, which tends to be how it goes most weeks. My role in my AA group is similar to that of the court jester: you’re not going to learn shit from what I say, but by God am I wearing a silly hat.

fool-1476189_640.jpg
“Did I ever tell you about the time I had a DUI with a transgender hooker tied and gagged in the trunk of my car?”

Sharing on this topic last week got the cogs turning, and this week I had an oh-shit moment, where I realized how ridiculous it is to be working towards lifelong sobriety.

I realized that:

  1. That goal is never achieved. In fact, the moment it’ll be achieved is the moment your consciousness ceases to exist, so you’ll never be aware of its having been achieved. How’s that for a carrot on the end of a really long stick.
  2. You’re carrying the heavy responsibility of attempting to stay sober for time that doesn’t exist yet, and which might never exist.

In your mind, if you exercise and avoid high-fructose corn syrup and manage to abstain from smoking, you’ll make it into your eighties. So when you say you’re going to quit drinking for the rest of your life, you’re imagining the effort it takes to stay sober each of those days, which is in the tens of thousands.

It’s overwhelming.

Now imagine the effort it takes to stay sober just one of those days: today. Imagine unburdening yourself of thinking about tomorrow, and how you’ll stay sober that day, and focus on the now. It sounds like some Tony Robinson-level hokey bullshit, but it’s incredibly freeing. Instead of avoiding thousands of beers, you’re avoiding just the one. That first one that day. Besides, who knows? You might get a hit by a bus tomorrow, or struck by a boot on the end of an amateur fisherman’s line.

Take it one day at a time.


Thanks for reading! This post is less funny but not anymore serious than the posts I tend to write, but there are a few value bombs in there for entry-level alcoholics in recovery. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if you laughed out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head on over to my Facebook page to say hi and throw me a like.

Do Alcoholics Dream of White Zinfandel Served in Plastic Cups?

Dan dreams about falling off the water wagon, and doing so with a drink just for ladies.

I always thought recurring dreams were fictional. Not as in the content of them is fictional—that obviously is, as it’s dreamed—but that only characters in Disney movies experienced recurring dreams. That is until I started having my own.

This week, I experienced the third occurrence of a dream in which I fall off the wagon.  In the dream, I do so with a drink for which I’m not even close to being the target demo: sparkling White Zinfandel.

I did a little googling, and it seems I’m not alone in my experience of this. Alcoholics’ dreaming about relapsing is a thing. I also learned there are a number of other non-alcoholism-related common recurring dreams: teeth falling out; only being able to run super slowly, as though through syrup, while being chased by an unknown assailant; and dying.

Not in a specific way. Just dying.

I also learned that bad backs are also a thing people experience in real life, not just something in Disney movies, but let’s try to keep on topic

injury-903342_640.jpg
A fictional injury

The dream in question woke me up at three AM, and I was unable to go back to sleep. This resulted in my spending the next two days existing in a state somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness, like the feeling of riding the Aerosmith ride at Magic Kingdom, but I see it’s occurrence as a good thing.

Remember that early Christopher Nolan movie, where the protagonist whacked his noggin and his short-term memory’s on the fritz? The main character is investigating who murdered his wife, and when he learns new facts related to the case, he writes them down on Post-It notes and subsequently gets them tattooed on his body. There exists no better cinematographic metaphor for alcoholism.

drinks-2578446_640.jpg
“Here’s to making memories.”

Much like the protagonist in the movie needs constant reminders of what direction his investigation is going, the alcoholic needs constant reminders that he’s an alcoholic. He needs to introduce himself at AA meetings as such. He needs to stay mindful of the fact, or he might again start to think that consuming a bottle of sparkling White Zinfandel is a good way to spend his Saturday afternoon.

What does this have to do with the dream?

For obvious reasons, I’m unwilling to get a tattoo that reads “I’m an alcoholic,” whether it would be covered up by a well-fitted shirt or not, but this dream, it serves much the same function, albeit not permanently. The summer holiday’s approaching, and I have a toxic relationship with these sun-filled, heady days. I haven’t spent one of them in the last six years sober. Naturally, I’m thinking about drinking again, and experiencing this dream isn’t quite a tattoo, but it’s at least a Post-It note.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the web page to receive email notifications. And if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your sober friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

Head over to my Facebook page and throw me a like.