The End of Dry January, Now What?
So you haven’t had anything to drink for all of 2019. Do you continue?
I’m a sober coach, and this is what I’ve seen in my inbox in the last few weeks:
N: “Hi Belle. I have almost conquered Dry January. I am so proud. I lost my Dad last Jan and have drunk a bottle of wine (at least) per day since. The reason for my email is Dry January has shown me that I am happier without alcohol, I am more present, I am more energetic, I give time to my children after school instead of getting on it. I love it. Having raised £500 for cancer research, I couldn’t let people down by slipping up. However, what is my reason after January? I don’t want to think about when I can next drink, I don’t want to wish days away waiting to open another bottle and I don’t want to spend weekends in bed with hangovers. I’m scared of February because I don’t have the sponsorship for charity to keep me going. I don’t want to go back. Help me xx”
Well, N, what you’d say when asked, is this: “I quit for all of January and I was surprised at how much better I felt, so I’m going to continue on for a bit longer.”
The key word is ‘bit’ — to your friends, do not declare a defined end.
Leave it open-ended. Give people general, non-specific answers. If you say “quitting for 100 days” you’ll have some jackass who counts your days for you you, waiting.
In your own head? Yes, you count the days. Yes, you have a goal. But to tell people? Only if they’re other sober people.
Because really, do we really need to explain that why we continue to do something that makes us feel better? Some friends will raise an eyebrow, but in these days of pledges, challenges, cleanses, diets, and gluten free — it’s easier than ever to say “no thanks, not drinking these days, just found it didn’t agree with me.”
K: “Hi Belle, I want to do the 100 day Sober Challenge, I haven’t drank for the whole of January, currently on day 23, but I have already decided one month isn’t enough to see the benefits…”
Yeah, no shit! In a month, you’re just starting to learn how to relax, learn how to sleep, find out what kinds of treats you need, figure out how to go to bed when you’re tired instead of holding yourself awake.
So it makes SENSE (see part 1 above!) to extend and keep doing something that feels good.
I had a penpal who told me that, when asked why she quit drinking, she said “drinking made me feel depressed and suicidal, so I stopped.”
That has a way of shutting people up.
But if you need something gentler, you say it was “affecting my sleep, made me hate my life, trying to lose weight, doing a workplace challenge, thought I’d continue on until Easter.”
Z: “I’m on day 23 now and I only intended to do the month and then add in a couple of drinks on Saturdays only. That is a good plan … EXCEPT I read your book and I read all of your daily emails. I read them, and start to think what life would be like without drink … As the end of January is approaching, I know I need to continue this fresh me who isn’t planning the next drink after dropping and picking kids up … I know I need to keep stopped, as I am so impressed with you and the amazing people on the same journey. But as February 1st gets nearer, I feel Wolfie getting a bit louder, telling me I have done so well for a month and I can treat myself. So my hard work starts very soon. I am no longer in the lurking darkness but put in the light. Thank you Belle.”
Nobody quits forever. We have a goal, we move towards the goal, then we move the goal ahead, and we keep going.
You just say to yourself: I’m doing this for February. It’s the shortest month of the year, what’s a few more days?
Because it’s in doing today that you get to the future.
And you’re not missing anything. I mean, look at it this way: You’ve tried drinking. You gave it a good ‘college’ try. You tried it. Now you’re trying something else. How many years did you drink too much? Five? Eleven? OK, then maybe you can quit drinking for the same length of time, and then once you’ve done both for equal amounts of time, THE you can decide which one suits you better.
Because if you’re seeing glimpses of betterness now, then imagine how it improves if you keep going :)
Thanks for reading. Can you click on the little ‘clap’ picture? 👏🏼 Helps people find the stuff I write. Merci.
Belle Robertson, sober 6+ years, blogs and writes and records free sober audios. She has been sober penpals with 2,923 people. She works as a text designer, a baker & caterer, and as a sober coach. She thinks that bitter drinks taste better, and that hummus at 4 pm keeps her head attached. This blurb current as of January 2019.