Today is four years since my last drink. Yes, there was a cake with glittery icing and a great massage. I love celebrating this day.
I’m often asked about whether I count my days, or more often whether the person asking “should” count their days. I think there are good arguments either way, and as with all things, it’s important to choose what works for you.
Why not to count:
Re-setting back to day one can be demoralising. Sometimes people describe it as “failing”. When you’re at the beginning it may be more useful to keep track so that you can say “I was sober for 86% of days” instead of always going back to day one. Progress is progress.
You might also keep track of a recovery journey starting date that is separate from your sobriety date. Many people do this especially when they’ve dealt with multiple issues. So you might get a post from me about 5 January 2015 which I celebrate as the day I started taking my life back.
Once you suspect that abstinence works better for you, you commit to it. Counting the days and not wanting to re-set the counter is another motivation for the “no matter what” mindset.
Seeing the days rack up can be really powerful. Oh, I’ve reached 30 days and it’s been years since it was that long. And then suddenly, here’s 180 days. Here’s a year.
There are benefits to continuous sobriety that you don’t get with intermittent sobriety. The farther you are from day one, the more your body and brain recover. Your neurochemistry, your digestive system, your liver, your skin … all your systems are getting a chance to heal for good. Your inner voice that’s crying out for alcohol gets quieter and quieter. Having that infrequent drink keeps that voice stronger in the meantime. This is why I’m so much happier with abstinence for myself and it’s why I recommend to clients and group attendees that they try a period of abstinence
How to count:
In the early days I recommend both a paper calendar and an app. A paper calendar is great for the visual accumulation and for the physical act of checking off or colouring in each day. Remember you can count for yourself, you don’t have to share it.
Apps are useful because they keep track even when we forget. Many of them have extra features, for instance the app “I am Sober” asks you to pledge your commitment again each morning and to evaluate the difficulty each evening. It also has motivational quotations and a community forum.
As for me today, I’m celebrating! Not the days without alcohol, the new life of freedom and fun. It’s the commitment I made, and kept, to creating a new life for myself.
Get help keeping that committment for yourself with a call here.