As a person with a history of intermittent relapse, I of course hate this question. I was at an AA gathering recently and a woman was asking everyone as they walked out the door how long they'd been sober. I guess I was doing something close to praying as I kept up the mantra, "Don't ask me, don't ask me." She didn't. And I was glad. And I'll tell you why. I was sober from 1988-1994. I was sober most of 1996. I was sober a majority of 2001 - present. In the past year, I've been sober about 360 out of 365 days. Now, usually when people ask you this question, they're in AA. And they don't care about any of that. They want to know how long it's been since your last drink. I know that so I'm not comfortable answering 13 or so years because I know that's not really what they're asking. Here's the thing, though. I am proud of and thankful for every single one of those days sober. And just because someone else thinks that because I've slipped, it all amounts to a pile of nothing doesn't mean I think it. Based on my history, it's a pretty good bet that I'll slip again; however, it won't keep me from having long-term, stable sobriety as my goal and sincerely trying not to slip. As problem drinkers, we all know that a slip can lead to long-term drinking, as noted by that big gap from 1996-2001 where you won't find many sober days I logged. I'm not stupid. I know this. I do the best I can without giving up my soul to something I don't necessarily believe in.
Another reason I don't like the question is this. It has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of person I am. Telling you that I've been sober 90 continuous days or 13 intermittent years won't get you any closer to knowing me than telling you my hair is brown. You may think you know something about me. For instance, if I said the first, you could think I'm off to a great start (ha! if you only knew). Of if I told you the latter, you could think one of a few things: either I'm really slow (which I'll readily admit to) or I'm one of the most persistent, tenacious people you've ever known (which I'll also readily admit to) or you could think I'm a complete idiot (which thanks anyway but I won't be owning that one). But still, you won't know that I'm honest and compassionate and loving and a great friend and creative and really, really impatient and on occasion, very petty.
Another reason I don't like the question is that I think it's rude which really is another post. But the main reason I don't like it is because it will take an entire year of someone's life - most of it spent sober, productive and active, and focus on the one day you veered off the path. And it will give that day power instead of all those good days.
Water Equity on the Water
5 days ago