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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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People Don’t Like the Word Alcoholic

This week, Dan banishes thoughts of drinking again, keeping to that two-beer limit.

People who like to drink don’t like the word alcoholic. They don’t like it when you call yourself one, and they especially don’t like it when you label them as such. In the case of the former, this reaction might seem unusual, but I think I received some insight into why it’s common during a recent conversation I had with a dude.

He’s a relative, and I brought up the topic of my alcoholism. He immediately started questioning it: whether I should be defined as an alcoholic or pigeonholed as a “problem drinker.” He gave his own definition, stating I didn’t fit it. His definition was a stereotype: the type of shithead who wakes up in the morning and needs a drink.

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“Before we give it to him, I think it’s important to establish if Baby needs, or merely wants, his bottle.”

I confessed I never felt like I needed a drink, but I wanted one enough times. Enough so that want resulted in my drinking every day. Why would someone go to not great, but lengths, at least, to disprove someone else’s alcoholism? And to do so vehemently?

I believe by defining myself as an alcoholic, I triggered him to reflect upon his own drinking, maybe making him question whether he was an alcoholic. All of a sudden this conversation wasn’t about me. It was about him, and if I’m a drunk that makes him a drunk. And if I have to quit, then it logically follows that he does. I’m not saying this is the reality, but it’s likely the thought process that occurred, whether consciously or subconsciously—at least in this humble armchair psychologist’s opinion.

I’ve stated countless reasons why we should avoid the word alcoholic in social situations, and here’s another for the pile. You could inadvertently mention it to someone who’s started their long argument with that word and what it means.

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“It depends on your definition of the word cunt.”

We finished this conversation amicably, agreeing that whether I defined myself as an alcoholic didn’t mean shit. I don’t want to drink again, so call me a giraffe and pass me a soda water. I don’t drink any longer. I can’t. My neck’s too long. It takes too long to travel down my oesophagus into my stomach.

But is the stamping of that label important?

I’ve often thought about why alcoholics introduce themselves as such before they speak at AA meetings. It isn’t to check if any newcomers in the room have got the right group, just in case they got the address wrong and were supposed to attend a Lamaze class. The reason, I believe, is to remind yourself of your diagnosis.

Alcohol fucks with you. You don’t drink him for a while, and he’ll try to convince you you weren’t as bad a drinker as you thought you were when you decided to quit drinking for good. He’ll remind you of the good times, and cast a shadow over the bad. He’ll start to hold up hoops for you to jump through, questioning your definition of what an alcoholic is: “If you’re an alcoholic, Dan, then why did you never need a drink in the morning? You managed to go to work every day, and so what if you had a couple beers on an evening? You earned it. Hell, you deserved it.”

To question their definition is to plant the thought in an alcoholic’s mind that he can try moderating one more time. One more college try. If he fails, he can just quit again, but he should at least try, shouldn’t he? What’s the worst that can happen?

And to utter those words, “I’m so and so and I’m an alcoholic…” is to strengthen your resolve. To banish those thoughts that social drinking’s for you. Doing it once isn’t enough. It’s a daily practice, like brushing your teeth or making your bed.

So just be wary about using the word alcoholic, even with a close relative, as that conversation might end up seemingly being about them, when it’s actually about you. That word fucking with you again, and what the hell it means.


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Sobriety: The Experience of Doing Shit You Don’t Want to Do

When you drink all the time, you’re constantly in your comfort zone, like a kiddies’ party circus clown twisting oblong balloons into animals. Step out of it: step into a cold shower.

I heard something on a podcast to which I immediately related. A lady, way smarter than I—though she’s not scoring genius on an IQ test to achieve that lofty status—said, “Sobriety’s an experience of doing stuff you don’t want to do.”

Naturally, I replaced the word “stuff” with “shit” and decided to blog about it. The more I think about it, the more poignant it becomes.

At the start of this year, I began going to AA. I rocked up at some American church in Oslo on a Saturday afternoon, stood at the end of the road on which it is, and inhaled some nicotine in the form of a fruit-flavored vapor. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about turning around, getting on the bus home, to go and do something more comfortable on a Saturday afternoon. Something that wouldn’t challenge me as much; something that wouldn’t involve me admitting to a bunch of strangers I’m a shithead who can’t leave a bottle of gin alone once I’d opened it.

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“Look at it standing there, wanting people to inside, so it can spread cheer, a sense of community, and want to make me a better person.  How dare it.”

Needless to say, though I’ll say it anyway, I didn’t want to go inside. My mind raced, coming up with a million and one excuses why I should go back to my apartment: Maybe I’d trip on the staircase up to the front door and make an ass out of myself, or maybe I’d forget to go to the bathroom and piss myself. All the reasons were absurd, of course, and there was about as much chance of them happening as (insert popular musical artist here that isn’t Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones) releasing a decent record.

More importantly, they paled in comparison to the single reason why I was there: I needed to be. X number of relapses and the measly amount of savings in my bank account from getting shitfaced where reasons enough, before I started even thinking about erections, the pursuit of life goals, or my inability to consider a bicycle trip a sober activity.

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“Rodeo.”

I’ve talked about selfishness being best friends with alcoholism on this blog before, and I believe that more than ever. By choosing to get drunk all the time, you’re doing exactly what you want, when you want, at the expense of other people, whether to a large degree or small: Maybe your spouse, your boss who gets less productivity out of you, your readers who are waiting for the next installment of your comedic mystery series, or your dog who’s getting so fat he’s starting to look like a different breed because you don’t walk him enough.

Actually, fuck your boss. It’s your colleagues who are taking up the slack.

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“All these arrows, yeah… they mean you’re a shitty employee.”

My point is, when you get good at drinking, you’re getting even better at saying fuck it to your responsibility to other people.

When you think about it, and I’m inviting you to do so by writing these words, getting sober and staying sober is reversing that selfish mindset to the point where you’re a valued member of your social circle, and it starts by doing something you don’t want to do: not drink.

This time I’m sober feels different from the rest. It might be because I’ve finally learned, after twenty-plus relapses, that I can’t drink ever again, or it might be because I set out to do a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do right off the bat. About the same time I got sober, I started intermittent fasting, and have lost almost 30 kilos. I also started exercising, something I hate. And most recently, I started taking ice-cold showers.

My resolve has never been stronger. It’s built up a little bit more every morning at five AM, when I jump into the shower and close the door behind me, hyperventilating my way through two minutes of agony as I listen to a Sigur Rós song blasting out of my shower speaker. It’s built up every time I do burpees until my heart’s almost beating out of my chest. And it’s built up every time I go a full twenty-four hours without food.

As for saying no to drinking. Shiiiit, that’s easy. All I have to do to achieve that is not do something that would make me feel shit anyway. Staying sober today is a piece of cake compared to the ice-cold shower I’m going to take after writing this post.

Right now, I’m not focusing on staying sober. I’m concentrating on doing other stuff I don’t want to do.

And it started with that Saturday afternoon, almost four months ago, when I thought the possibility of pissing myself in front of a bunch of strangers a semi-valid excuse for not going inside. I haven’t looked back since.

Going to AA’s a good start, and the natural first step, but what else don’t you like doing that could benefit yourself or others?


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Alcoholism Is Your Baby Momma

Be safe out there, folks, and wear a condom.

Here at Hilariously Sober, we like to define alcoholism, whether it’s with a phallic metaphor, or with gibberish. By “we” I mean I, the sole writer of this blog, and by “like”, I mean feel obligated now and again, just so I have subject matter to keep up with my one-blog-post-a-week publishing schedule.

While lying in bed this morning, dozing away the last hour of my regular seven hours a night, I came up with what I think is the most important metaphor for alcoholism I’ll ever come up with.

Let me take it for a spin: Alcoholism’s your baby momma.

Imagine a young dude, maybe eighteen. His acne’s beginning to die down, and the shitty bit of fluff on his chin he refused to shave has matured into something that almost resembles a beard—not Kurt Russell in The Thing decent, but Prince. All of a sudden he notices girls now look at him. And for the first time, instead of going home and thinking about them as he jerks off, he has the balls to go up to them and ask them if they want a drink.

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In his mind.

Despite his Prince beard, most of them reject him. But one doesn’t mind that he’s a shy, mumbling mess who probably still lives at home with his mom, in the trailer he came of age in. She flirts back, and before he knows it, he’s back at her place, pulling down his drawers, about to break the Guinness World Record for the quickest ejaculation.

Seeing as how he’s a mumbling mess, the only girl he was able to attract is less than stellar. She’s not exactly Ivy League school material, and the way she sees it, having a kid is her meal ticket. She doesn’t tell our hero this, of course, and when he, drawers around his ankles, mumbles, “I don’t have a condom,” she shrugs, and says, “I don’t mind.”

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Yep, this photo exists on the internet.

They have sex, and in this metaphor that shitty sex, which lasts only a minute or so, is the first drink of alcohol. Our shitty-beard hero finds out he’s either A) a non-alcoholic, or B) you guessed it, an alcoholic.

In scenario A, our hero has sex the one time and realizes the girl he picked up in the bar isn’t who he thought she was when he had blue balls. He runs off, and never sees her again. He might get unlucky, having impregnated her, but as he was wise enough to not exchange phone numbers with her or tell his address he never sees or hears from her again.

In scenario B, our hero is hooked. He knows the girl he had sex with isn’t exactly a looker, and she’s about a good a conversationalist as a hobo on a Friday night, but he goes back for seconds, and then thirds, until it develops into a relationship. Every time they have sex they have the same mumbled conversation about using a condom, and each time they don’t use one.

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We’re made for each other, baby. It’s written in the stars or some shit.

One night, when they’re lying in bed, he looks at her abdomen and says to her, “You’re getting fat.”

Her face flushes from embarrassment, and she replies, “I’m not fat. I’m pregnant.”

Unbeknownst to our shitty-beard hero, when he was going back for sex, he was developing a lifelong relationship with this girl, whether he likes it or not. She’s going to have his kid, and this isn’t a problem he can ignore. If he leaves her, vowing never to have sex with her again, he still has a responsibility—the child he produced.

The girl he impregnated, she’s going to require constant maintenance, whether they’re together or not. He’ll feel obligated to go to her first ultrasound, and when the kid’s born, she’s going to expect him to look after him or her every other weekend and pay child support.

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Yeah, nothing like this.

My point is this: the difference between the non-alcoholic who quits drinking and the alcoholic is that the former—from scenario A—can run off and forget all about that shitty night when he came faster than a sex-starved colt—two pumps and he’s over the finish line. He needn’t think about that girl ever again.

But the alcoholic, he’s the guy unlucky enough to have impregnated her. I say unlucky, but the difference between the two guys is the alcoholic went back for more, whereas the non-alcoholic nipped it in the bud. Sure, when the memory of that bad night fades, the non-alcoholic will go back for more with another girl not even close to being college material, but he won’t develop a habit with her. Not long enough to make her pregnant.

Alcoholism is our hero’s baby momma. He might not like it, but she’s a permanent part of his life now, and she requires constant maintenance.


Thanks for reading! Wow, that was one of the shittiest posts I’ve ever written, but don’t forget to come back for more by following Hilariously Sober. 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.

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Are You a Pickle or a Dildo?

Every alcoholic everywhere should ask themselves, “Am I merely a dildo soaked in vinegar, or a pickle?”

A couple weeks ago, a sober buddy told me a metaphor for alcoholism I thought clever. He said, “Dan, you’re either a cucumber or a pickle. And after you’ve drunk for a while, you find out which.”

The metaphor is this: Everyone starts out a cucumber, but some of us, after being drowned in vinegar for a while, turn into something you chop up and dress a burger with. In the metaphor, the vinegar represents alcohol. The cucumber doesn’t represent your penis, which succumbs to alcohol-related erectile dysfunction, but the alcoholic, who can’t go back to being a pickle once he’s soaked in the proverbial vinegar for a while.

He’s gone through a metamorphosis, and can’t go back to being a caterpillar who drinks the occasional gin and tonic with friends. He’s now a butterfly flying around like he’s just learned how to do it, hell-bent on drinking the bar dry, whether his friends are still there or not.

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The majestic butterfly, shitfaced… again.

My buddy’s metaphor is sound, but it has one fatal flaw: All cucumbers turn into pickles when soaked in vinegar, which implies all of us have the potential to become alcoholics, if we just soaked for long enough. That might have been his point, but the context of the conversation didn’t support that.

With one minor tweak, the metaphor becomes one rigorous to examination of its logic. I’ll take it for a spin now, with you as my test subject: “Reader, you’re either a cucumber or a dildo. And after getting shitfaced for a while, you’ll find out which.”

Hear me out.

In the history of cuisine, a dildo has never been transformed into a pickle. Dildos are made of rubber, and no matter how many bottles of gin you force them to drink, they’ll always remain a phallic object impervious to the effects of alcohol. Sure, they’ll get drunk, and depending on the temperature of the alcohol in which they’re soaked, they might get a little floppier. But take them out, and they’ll dry off, go back to living their normal life as a dildo, and definitely shouldn’t be chopped up and smeared in ketchup for consumption.

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Are you telling me this doesn’t look kinda like a dildo?

The dildo, unlike the cucumber, hasn’t gone through a metamorphosis. He’s still a caterpillar, and is content with crawling, taking the occasional drink. He doesn’t want to fly, as the wings he’d get look shit anyway. Like a DUI waiting to happen.

So which one are you? A dildo or a cucumber?


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Sobriety Isn’t Just For Grade-A Fuck-ups

One AA session in, Dan is battling old demons: He’s still trying to convince himself he’s an alcoholic.

Last week I made a commitment to go to a strange place every Saturday, talk about my feelings with strangers, and hold hands with other dudes as we say a prayer I don’t yet know the words to, all in the name of staying sober.

I haven’t joined a cult; I’m a bona fide member of AA. I even already have a buddy I can phone with whom to shoot the shit. What I’ve learned about AA so far is that relationships between people in that environment move at breakneck speed. I, usually the overfamiliar one when it comes to getting to know people, feel like a highschool junior who’s being driven out to a make-out spot by a senior who’s got his hand on my knee.

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This dog’s mistakenly getting what is commonly referred to as a “rapey vibe.”

As positive as I am about building up a network of other sober people to strengthen my resolve and accountability, I’m a little bit weirded out by the intensity of it all—this is my failing, not theirs: they’ve been nothing but welcoming. I thought the members there would ease me into it, allowing me to at least get my seat warm before I opened my mouth, but AA members don’t do shit by halves. They wouldn’t, as that’s why they’re sitting there in the first place.

I think it’s natural to go to your first AA meeting, hear stories from the members there, and feel like a phony, like you haven’t earned the right to be there as much as everyone else. Think of it like a dick-measuring contest, but for fuck-ups.

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A contest in which penises aren’t exposed.

But as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts—or at least I think I have—labels don’t mean shit. To qualify as an alcoholic, you only have to possess the need or want to quit drinking. It doesn’t matter if your drinking habits are restricted to getting shitfaced every Christmas and birthday. All that matters is that you think you’d be a lot better off without booze in your life.

And don’t let someone tell you shouldn’t quit, just because you don’t meet the definition of an alcoholic in their mind. You certainly shouldn’t not quit drinking just because it’ll make them feel better about drinking a bottle of White Zin every Friday night.

Which brings us to the topic of this week’s blog post:

You don’t have to jump through hoops to convince other people of your alcoholism—even if that shit only exists in your mind, which in my case it most definitely does. In the world of sobriety, you can be shit at throwing a shot put and still compete at the Olympics.

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I’ll just leave this here.

After the meeting, while I small talked with other members, I felt like that’s what I was doing at times—again, that shit’s on me. They’d say something I thought implied I was still discovering my relationship to alcohol. That I had to say something that would convince them of my genuineness, because I was new to AA. And I am; I’m just not new to wrestling with the temptations of alcohol. The experience was a test of humility—the ability to nod, smile, and bite my tongue.

I guess that’s the message of this blog post. If you’re contemplating quitting drinking, that the hangovers aren’t worth the fun the night before, the only person you have to convince that you need to quit is yourself.

Besides, taking the step meet your own definition, to define yourself as an alcoholic, is big enough without having to meet other people’s criteria for membership.

You’re an alcoholic if you want to be… as long as you want to quit drinking. And when you go to your first AA meeting, you’ll do well to keep that shit in mind, because you might come away feeling like you have a sobriety micro penis.


Thanks for reading! You’ve probably guessed I didn’t bring my A-game this week, but I’ll give you the usual spiel anyway: If you enjoyed this post, no matter how unlikely, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if it made you laugh out 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.

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How Many Out Of A Hundred Are Still Sober In Five Years?

This week, Dan tells you you’re not a beautiful snowflake, talks about cancer, and invites you to become a member of The Fisty Cuffs Club.

On some sobriety podcast I heard a statistic that scared the shit out of me. I can’t remember the exact figures, but it was something close to this: of alcoholics that get sober, only 10 percent of them are sober after one year, and after five years only ten percent of that ten percent remain sober.

Let’s run some numbers. Take a hundred drunks, get them in clinics doing hot yoga and talking about their feelings with strangers, and drill into them that they can never drink again, because if there’s one thing they can’t do, they can’t moderate how much they drink. Of those hundred people that hiked up a mountain for the first time, ten of those will still be sober after a year. The other ninety are excusing themselves from the dinner table to sneak off to the bathroom to take a sip of vodka they’ve hidden in a mouthwash bottle, or they’re sitting at a bar drinking their “just one more,” hoping beyond hope that the glass doesn’t get empty.

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“I’ll take the veggie burger, a side order of Parmesan fries, and one cocktail that I like to call Maintaining The Status Quo, please.”

But we’re not concerned with those people. At least for the purpose of this blog post. We’re looking at the guys and gals who—Jesus, I just realized I hate when people say guys and gals—who carry on going to AA, trade off booze for other healthy or healthier addictions, and collect their chips. Of those ten, only one of them stays the course for five years.

That’s one out of a hundred who’s still sober.

If you got cancer and were given an option of treatment that would make you sick as a circus clown during off season,  and you knew that there’s only a one-percent chance the treatment would work, that your cancer in its particular stage only had a one-percent five-year survival rate, the first thing you’d do is start thinking up dumb things to do for your bucket list and thinking about what song you want played at your funeral to make your loved ones tear up and think about what a great guy—or gal—you were.

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“Am I allowed to write ‘Not make a bucket list’?” said the smartass douchebag.

If you’re interested, mine would totally be ‘Leaving, On A Jet Plant’ by John Denver. It has a shitload of saccharin subtext in a funeral setting, and with its heavy dose of melancholy it would make the guests at my funeral so upset they’d probably forget to get shitfaced afterwards, which in some poetic but backwards way would be this blogger’s greatest achievement.

As a sobriety advocate, I’ve got tell you you’re a beautiful snowflake and that you shouldn’t be focussed on those other ninety-nine deadbeats, all the while knowing I’ve never made it to five years myself, but you can, God dammit.

And as someone who’s determined to stay sober today, and tomorrow—and, dare I say it, for the rest of my life—I’ve got to have Kanye West-level narcissism in the face of those statistics if I’m to remain convinced I’m going to achieve my goal.

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You’re my favorite reader, you snowflake you.

But that’s the thing about lifelong sobriety. It’s never achieved, not really. Here’s a happy thought: The only time that you’ve achieved it is after the moment you breathe your last breath, and then your consciousness isn’t even around to acknowledge your achievement, and it’s your life’s work! It’s left on a jet plane, and it’s impossible for it to know for sure whether it’ll be back again.

Jeez, I’m a ray of sunshine this morning.

Luckily for us, that statistic is just a statistic. And luckily for us, I have a pertinent cliché to quote: it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.

In writing this blog, I haven’t hidden my disdain for AA clichés, but in writing this particular blog post, it’s making me think about one in a different light: One day at a time…

One day at a time, I’m not looking forward to the future in a bad way.

One day at a time, I’m enjoying being sober.

One day at a time, I’m achieving my goal.

Fuck it, John can keep his jet plane, and the Dan that wrote the start of this blog post can shove back his opening in his ass where he pulled it from. Here’s a new one:

On some sobriety podcast, I heard a statistic that inspired the shit out of me…


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