Chip and Veronica explore why we celebrate sober birthdays and why we count the days of our sobriety.
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There are all kinds of ways we count days so I don’t see why it should ever be any different with recovery. – Chip Somers
We know how old we are, how long we’ve been married, the years since we graduated. It’s a normal part of life to recognize the timelines of our milestones and achievements.
Getting sober is a significant milestone and like many people, Chip and I can tell you exactly where we are down to the day. In fact, we’re both excited like little kids when it comes to our sober birthdays.
So, where are we now? Chip: 36 years, 3 months, 19 days; Veronica: 20 years, 10 months, 17 days
But when you’re newly sober, hearing 20 and 30 years of sobriety sounds practically absurd. Chip recalls early on in his recovery hearing someone was 3 years sober and being absolutely baffled.
That’s one of the reasons we believe it’s important to celebrate your sobriety from early on. Never think, “Oh, I’m only 30 days in.” It’s not only 30 days – 30 days is fantastic. Every day sober is significant and as they add up, they give us more motivation to keep going.
There’s a lot to be said for counting days. It’s encouraging, it gives you enthusiasm, it gives you pride. – Chip Somers
It’s also important to realize that counting the days has meaning beyond measuring the length of sobriety. It’s about the depth and width of it.
When we reframe our mindset from just focusing on days sober to recognizing that we are people in long-term recovery, we start to think about creating a better life for ourselves by working on emotional sobriety.
Stopping drinking is an important first step and it’s actually the easiest bit, although it will feel like the hardest at the beginning. It’s the emotional sobriety, personal development bit that you have to work on for the rest of your life.
I like to think of sobriety as a seesaw, with alcohol on one end and sobriety on the other. By doing the deeper work to support yourself, you keep putting weight on the sober end and it will embed itself in the earth. That’s how you get your sobriety to stick.
There are many different paths in long-term recovery and in my experience, most people have a lot of stopping and starting and the beginning of their sobriety journey.
When we fall down we just need a couple of people to help pick us up, dust us down and say, “Don’t worry, come on, let’s carry on the journey.” – Chip Somers
Let’s move away from the condescending and shaming attitude that a lot of 12 step fellowships take towards people who relapse. Obviously, we don’t want anyone to relapse and go through that struggle but if it happens, support is the only way to get back on track.
I think it is that punitive attitude towards relapse that prevents so many people from coming straight back to the support group that helped them all the way along. – Chip Somers
Time in recovery isn’t just about hours and days, it’s about experience. And it’s a huge blow to ask someone who’s got a big chunk of sobriety to start straight back from scratch as if they’ve blown it completely. We believe that pushing that shame narrative only turns what could have been a small mishap, into a potentially extended problem.
For me, the reason that I count days is that there’s a very distinct before and after. The last 20 years have been filled with my life getting continuously better and more meaningful and expansive. Before, my life was controlled by alcoholism and it was a small, painful life.
When you keep putting the weight on the sober end of the seesaw, you learn tools, strategies, and different ways of dealing with things that make it so that picking up a bottle is just no longer an option.
The days turn into weeks, and months into years and all of that adds up into a life that you do not want to miss.
One of the benefits of counting days is that to a newcomer, seeing someone who’s 30 days to 6 months sober is really inspiring. It shows them that it’s achievable.
When we get to 5, 6, 7, 8 days sober, each day added energizes us and gives us the motivation to keep on going.
Time = Experience. All the time you have stacked up in your sobriety is time invested in yourself and your growth. That’s something to be proud of.
It’s a line in the sand that marks the day your life stopped being controlled by alcohol and instead began to heal and expand.
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