And with that, my first little experiment is complete.
I reached my 30-day goal. It’s all surprisingly anticlimactic.
When I was five days sober, I attended my first — and only — AA meeting. Afterwards, I was convinced that I would return on my 30th day of sobriety to collect my 30-day chip, as some kind of memento or souvenir of this experience.
Turns out, I didn’t need it. It was enough just to do it.
I was also certain that I would post a long entry on the day that I finally had another drink — that I might even write the post while imbibing and process the experience “live.”
Turns out that, once the 30 days were up, I didn’t feel compelled to do that, either.
Purposefully stepping off of the wagon was initially scary, largely because I wasn’t sure how I — or my body (or, more importantly, my brain) — would take it. I was surprised to find that initially I didn’t particularly like the taste of beer or wine. I also felt oddly guilty, like maybe I was letting myself down by not remaining sober forever. But much like my early days of sobriety, which were defined by breaking preexisting patterns, I found that I had established new patterns while sober that needed to be redefined if I were going to drink again. After a week, drinking once again feels normal.
But I must admit, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about drinking as I once was. In fact, my partner mentioned a few days ago that he’s noticed I haven’t been drinking very much at all. His passing comment made me feel strangely proud.
I’ve learned four things as a result of this experience. First, I am — with 100% certainty — not an alcoholic. Given my family history of alcoholism, I felt that testing my ability to remain sober was essential. But I also learned that, had I not taken this step, I could have found myself stumbling along a much darker, painful path in the future.
I also learned how much I love the Serenity Prayer. I kept the 24-hour chip in my pocket for a whole week after attending that AA meeting, and I found that fingering the coin and repeating the prayer to myself helped me do more than simply remain sober. As someone who is overly anxious by nature, reminding myself that there are some things I can’t change helped to calm me down. And, as someone who is committed to purposeful change, reminding myself that such change requires courage was also reassuring.
And finally, I realized that I am not finished exploring my sobriety. In fact, I’m committed to maintaining an on-again/off-again schedule, where I will alternate months drinking and abstaining. So, come January, I proudly stepping back on that wagon. And I’ll do it again in March. And in May. And so on.
But for now, I feel at peace. I feel like this experiment has run its course and its significance for me has become less and less immediate. And thus, it’s time to embark on a new experiment…starting tomorrow.