A Hundred Day Ones

By: Molly Stroud

My first Day One was over a decade ago.

I was a single mother of three who had just finished fast tracking a bachelor’s degree and was working my way through Teacher’s College. I was in a tumultuous relationship. Money was tight, stresses were high, and I had been actively self-medicating with alcohol for some time. A coping mechanism I had adopted as a pre-teen.

It was the last day of college before Christmas break, so my classmates and I decided to go out for a ‘few’ drinks to celebrate. Afternoon turned into evening and the next thing I knew we were back at my house and I was unwrapping, one by one, all of the bottles I had bought as gifts for people.

From there we proceeded to a neighbourhood bar and it was on the way home, after hours of drinking, that the Universe sent me my first wake-up call. I missed a steep step as I was staggering toward my house, and fell, smashing my face on the pavement, creating a deep gash near my temple, and knocking myself unconscious.

The next day, suffering a violent hangover, I sat quietly in a room, alone, and thought to myself for the first time, I have a problem with alcohol. It was a terrifying admission. How did I get here?  How did I allow this to happen? But there I was, and it was time to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths.

I spent the Christmas season and a few weeks beyond that, abstaining, but my sobriety didn’t last long that time around.

It would become the first stint of many stints to come. The next decade would consist of long spells of drinking problematically punctuated by brief periods of abstinence, and with each return to the bottle the same nagging thought in the back of my head. One day I will have to quit for good.

Fast forward five or more years from my first Day One and Instagram is a thing, and on another hung-over and desperate morning-after, I discover that there is an entire online community of people fighting the same battle as me. Some are years into their recovery, some are hitting first milestones, like 100 days or six months, or a year. Others, like me, are battling what feels like their millionth Day One.

Finding the online community became pivotal to my journey. Watching people’s transformations unfold, hearing their stories, finding the similarities and realizing that I was far from alone. The internet became an invaluable resource to me, and in December 2018 I finally committed, in earnest, to getting sober permanently.

But what I started to notice as I made my own sobriety account on Instagram and really spent time reading other people’s posts, was that there seemed to be a shiny veneer  over much of what was being talked about. So many people claiming that sobriety is nothing but amazing and that none of their fears about it came true. That their moods are pristine, and they sleep like the dead. That their friendships are stronger than ever and that they don’t miss a darn thing about alcohol.

After being sober almost six months, I realized that this was not going to be the case for me. I was finding it anything BUT shiny and wonderful. I was finding it really HARD. I did miss alcohol. The crawl of the buzz up the back of my neck. The camaraderie. The instant relief. My friendships had suffered greatly in the midst of my sobriety, and many had all but ended. My moods and my sleep were a roller coaster of ups and downs and crashes. This was not the same experience I was seeing talked about repeatedly. What was wrong with me? If I was still going to feel like s**t AND have no friends what was the point?

So I returned to the bottle yet again. I drank almost every weekend of the summer of 2019.

But because of this ‘relapse’ something kind of amazing happened. I realized that despite the challenges, I genuinely preferred a sober life to a drunken one.

I became acutely aware of how very detrimental booze has been to my well-being, my health, my budget, and my waistline.

I wanted my sober life back. Truly wanted it.

So, in early September of 2019 I got back on the wagon and with the exception of one ‘slip’ more than forty-five days ago, I am still firmly belted in.

I had to come to terms with the fact that although someone else’s journey might be one of ease and liberation and nothing but positive results, other folks, like me, will have a more difficult time with it. I had to surrender to life on life’s terms. Brace myself for the difficult times. Be willing to let go of friendships that no longer align. White-knuckle through the dark days when there was just no other option.

As I began to write my own story on Instagram with uncensored honesty, many people came forward and admitted that they too, found the struggle to be real. That their moods are s**t. They don’t sleep well. Their sex drive has disappeared. That they feel awkward at parties and their friendships have become strained and distant, if not non-existent. That they worry they’ll never have fun again, won’t be invited. That life will be a never-ending shade of grey.

People a lot like me.

It isn’t easy. This journey is NOT for the weak of heart.

Which is why I, and many others like me, have had a ton of Day Ones.

And while I do hope that I’ve come to the point in my journey where I will never have to experience another Day One again, I can’t predict the future. Even though I do not work the twelve steps, I cling tightly to the slogan ‘One day at a time’.

What I do know for sure is that as long as I keep coming back to Day One, it means I’m still trying. It means I’m still showing up for myself and working on managing alcohol in a way that works for me. I am grateful for every relapse I’ve endured (though happy, too, that they are behind me) because each one brought me back to the next Day One wiser, more experienced, and self-aware, and stronger in my resolve than the time before.

What I also know for sure is that even though the fight for sobriety is not always pretty, it is always totally worth it.

Wow finally someone I can relate with. Thank you for this article very inspiring and comforting to know I’m not alone.

You are amazingly candid and honest. Love this about you. Being this way means many others will be inspired and assisted and motivated.

Well written thanks for sharing could totally relate!

Very honest! I completely relate to this, and have had many Day ones myself. Thank you!

This was truly inspiring for me, as I have had a rocky journey also. But you inspire me to keep on trying! Best of luck to you and know that there are many like us in your corner!

How do you find this community on Instagram? I loved your BLOG.

Thanks for your honesty. It isn’t all sweetness and light, is it.

Today is my day one. I feel there wil be many more, but for me it is time. Game over. Wish me luck .

I resonate so very deeply to your blog. I too have had what seems like a million day ones too. I too though have come to the realisation that so long as I’m still trying and immersing myself in recovery books and podcasts and online communities I am on the right track. Seven years ago is when my journey started. I managed to get 13 months of sobriety and tried AA. It wasn’t for me. I felt guilty back then that it wasn’t working for me, yet I just felt like something was missing. So this year I started digging around podcasts, books, Facebook abd have found there is now a massive sober movement out there. I am also very interested in how anxiety and drinking tend to go hand in hand in many cases. As an anxious person I know I’d always reach for the bottle when feeling anxious. Anyhow thank you I loved your blog. Mandy

Thank you for sharing, Molly! Your honesty, no doubt, will help a lot of people … “One Dayers,” not feel so alone, helpless, and like giving up! I have had numerous Day One’s for almost 20 years! I started out in a certain 12 Step Program and, unfortunetately, although “they” claim not to judge those who relapse. that was not my experience. I mean, people are people – they are only human.. and some (but admittedly not all) will still judge. But perhaps the biggest judgment of my relapses came from ME! It got to the point where I was too ashamed to go back YET AGAIN to a group of people and admit I drank again. So… it was just easier not to go back. I tried to stop on my own but my alcoholism speaks to me regularly and lets me know I am “no good” and I will “never be able to stop” so why bother? I am a single mother of one beautiful daughter and I knew my drinking was taking its toll on her. She did not (does not) deserve that kind of life! She absolutely deserves a HAPPY and, as much as possible, fearless childhood. About 18 months ago, I just happened to fall upon this beautiful online support group – Hello Sunday Morning! It has changed my life!!!!! For the better, in case you did not get that! 🙂 Although I have had a few “slips,” it is much softer on the ego to admit behind a computer of my slip/relapse, get honest, shake it off, do NOT beat myself up, then start a new day! Eventually, those slips became further and further apart until one day, the desire to drink completely left me. I am happy to report that I have 9 months sober and, yes, life still has its challenges, but I do face them with a clearer mind. Life is way more manageable without the cloudiness of alcohol. I think one of the most important awareness for anyone newly getting sober is that FEELINGS ARE REALLY BIG! Every feeling is standing so right there in your face!!! UGH! Why did we drink so much in the first place? For most of us (my belief anyway) was to escape from our feelings and our brains that would not shut off! So now we have to find another way to cope. Whatever it is – I started escaping in television (until I began to “live” the characters… that’s a whole different weirdness – I will spare you that psycho-self!). Exercise, crafts, reading, take on a home project… whatever helps – we are not all designed the same so our coping methods will differ. I have rambled on long enough. Thank you for taking the time to read my “brief” comment to Molly’s story! Good Luck Ya’ll!

That’s me too x 1000. There is some comfort in knowing we are many. I’m determined to see this through, I get stronger and wiser with every day one and I’m cautiously optimistic that this time is the one. Power to everyone in this battle. Peace ☮️ and respect to you all.

Excellent description & justification for ’day ones‘. So much more doable. For every ‘day one’ there’s this incredible learning of the peace, joy & truth one can discover on a journey without alcohol … every day can be called a ‘day one’… every so often we can add them up and reflect of what they felt like . All good .

Oh yes. This resonates so very much. I fully support the notion that sobriety can be a bitch, but it’s better than the alternative. Some days it’s great, other days it’s effing hard work. Like regular life without the comfort of the numbing agent. I too have had multiple attempts, but I like to think that with each attempt, I learn something new. How to get through a significant or difficult event sober. How to find alternatives to booze. How to find more peace. How to sit with the uncomfortable feelings. Thank you for sharing this, and for your honesty.

You are so right thanks Molly, and there are lots of honest people out there. Life is still life, just because you’re sober it’s not all going to be sunshine & unicorns, and there’s no more cuddly alcohol blanket to hide yourself away in. It can be cold, hard and people do leave you, but after a while, you do start to deal with it better and better and those glimpses of sunshine start to stay a little bit longer. Day 6 here again x

Thank you Molly what you have written is totally my experience !!! Thank you for your honesty it has helped sooo much. Keep up the good fight, like you, I am convinced that it’s worth it.

I’d love to follow your Instagram/blog – please could you share it?

I hear you. Great honesty in your blog. I’m never giving in on giving up and know it will happen.

You have written my story!! Thank you.

Hi Molly, thanks for that. I had slip yesterday and now I am not up to meeting a commitment.

This such a great article. I really appreciate the honesty.

Never give up or stop trying!!! Beautiful words from a very strong woman Thank You.

Thanks for sharing, Molly. Really appreciated your honesty and got a lot out of this post. I especially loved the insight that this journey is NOT for the weak at heart, and thus I realise just how strong at heart I really am 🙂 Thank you!

Thanks Molly – I am on about 10,000 day one. You are inspirational. I love the slogan “you only fail when you stop trying”. I was sober for 8 years in that 12 step program then stopped going. It was probably the best 8 years of my adult life.

Thanks for your post, Molly. Wonderfully honest and real. It is very encouraging and inspiring.

I kept waiting for the “pink cloud” that never came. Thank you for this article. This is very close to my story.

Great description of how difficult it is to stop drinking – despite good intentions and resolve. And yes the reality is that “life” doesn’t suddenly become fantastic with a few AFDs. But trying again and again….getting the mental clarity and beating the addiction…..must be so worth it

Thank you for sharing your experience with these ‘Day One’s’ that many of us encounter. I really liked that you pointed out that following a slip we have learning & knowledge…I think you said that,I’ve read nearly all the comments regarding your post & it may have been someone else ! More recently I’ve found that these Day One’s of my own have provided real insight,and some real kicker hangovers! As someone who has been in group settings I’ve learnt so much from others experience, strength & hope. I will likely return to the groups yet won’t be as inclined to become as heavily involved. A,take what you need and leave the rest scenario. I definitely see the benefit of sharing and support as others have said. To know that others really ‘get it’ is incredibly affirming. Thanks again Molly

Hi to everyone including you Molly.. Head to Belles ‘tired of thinking about drinking’ blog.. Her advice for people that have multiple day ones, is to not try harder, try different! She has an amazing honesty and no AA involved – in fact it didn’t work for her..try it as another sober tool, you won’t be sorry.

So true – thanks for sharing your very honest, insightful message. Good luck to you!

Currently on day 21 and really really struggled today not to “be bad”. Reading your article has really helped me focus on “being bad”. I could relate to everything you said so thank you very much for sharing your innermost thoughts, it isn’t easy. I have found myself totally alone in the world mainly due to my drinking at this community is really starting to make a positive impact on my thought and choice processes. Good luck everyone

I’m not an every day drinker but when I start I just go for it. Never have “loose” alcohol in the house. Every couple of days or more I try n fail. I blame (haha) loneliness. I have heaps of friends and contacts and family, but you can’t make time for others if you’re worried that somebody might turn up while you’re having fun with your Secret Lover/wine/addiction.

Great story! Athletes don’t become great over night. It takes training. Hard work practice and good habits to get to the top of your game. Each day one is like training each time you do it it’s training, finding your highs and lows strengths and weaknesses and learning how to deal with them. All those day ones are training to be the best you can be at life!!

Molly, thank you so much for your BLOG!! I too am a serial relapse – and found it really hard to go back to meetings and be honest. I am on say 26,for probably the 20th time since 2015. I appreciate the idea that you only fail when you stop trying. How do I find this Instagram online community?

I can relate to your post on so many levels. I have an addictive personality generally, and over the years its’ shifted from eating to smoking to back to eating and now drinking. I recently did 5 weeks with no alcohol which was great but have since relapsed which makes me realize I need to stop drinking permanently. I would love more info on your online support groups! Congrats on your success so far

I often read these blog posts however am not often driven to comment. This time I had to. Just to say thank you. Well done. I think it was the connection with keep on having day ones as long as you need to. That’s ok too. It’s the giving of hope rather than reinforcing a sense of failure if you don’t become a sober angel overnight!!!

This is the best site for people who are too ASHAMED to get help. I’m one of those. This is my biggest step forward in too many years to count,. Working on it x

Thanks Molly and everyone who posted. Your comments resonated with me… I’m 41 days alcohol-free for the first time in 9 years. Back then I stayed dry for 3 months with the help of AA, then thought I was ‘cured ‘! There is NO CURE for alcoholism! I know to my cost that it is a progressive and debilitating condition. I sort of functioned over time, but my drinking started to take over, to the point I preferred to drink alone at home. When I went out socially I often ended up injuring myself on my return home… 2 Christmas’s ago I ended up with 4 ribs broken in 6 different places. OUCH! Working for myself, it caused enormous problems for me and others- I couldn’t work for 3 months. And I anaesthetised myself with alcohol throughout. 6 weeks ago, after a bout of flu, drinking and tearfulness I finally called AA. I had resisted AA for years. I deluded myself that it didn’t work for me before! Well, it’s working for me now! I’m in the fortunate position of being able to get to a different meeting every day as I’m in London (there are over 700 meetings per week here!). I’m getting my life back. Recent blood tests showed I was veering towards alcohol-related diseases, fortunately they didn’t take hold. Talk about even more warning signs! A good friend recently commented that it’s as if I’ve stepped out of a coma. That just about sums it up! Good luck to you all. Grace

Wow, so true for me too Molly. I also gained a lot from the replys left by others to Molly’s blog. Kind of nice to know I am not alone in making wonderful plans for Day 1 and then falling off. But as long as we keep going and starting again it is better than giving up. I have lost count of the times I am going to start Day 1 of not drinking alone at home. The longest I have gone is 13 days, but next time could be the one! Today is another Day 1 for me.

I am on a road of sobriety and found the app Daybreak my saviour. If anyone needs support this is a great community that support each other.

Thanks I’ve always thought we keep hearing the successes but not the repeated struggles, Every week Sunday is my day 1, and every week I end up telling myself, ah well at least I keep trying! I Sometimes marvel at just how often I keep trying, it’s so good to hear It’s a ‘thing’. So onwards and upwards, we can do anything, only believe!

Thanks .. It helps. Am taking comfort from the line that “the only fail is not trying”

Thank you. I needed to read about your struggle right now. I have countless periods of sobriety and yes, lots of day ones. Reading this right now helps. It gives me hope to persevere. Thanks again for sharing your blog.

I am I overwhelmed in the best way by all of these heartfelt comments. For those who have asked about my online community, I simply started a sobriety account on Instagram (@sober_book_worm) and began looking through sober hashtags. From there I’ve found so many wonderful accounts to follow and the most supportive “friends” you could imagine. Thank you to all of you who took the time to read and respond to my blog. Just more proof that we are not alone in our journey of multiple Day Ones! ❤️❤️❤️ Molly

Hi Molly, I’m really happy that I’ve found this website and your blog. I live in Germany and have been googling for ages to find something similar here – in vain. So I thought I would be alone with my thoughts about alcohol and what it does with me. Thanks to God, I found Clare Pooley’s “The Sober Diaries”. I could not stop reading until I had finished, and in the end she recommends this website. Wow, I’m not alone with my 1,000 Day Ones including today ;-). I hope that there will be soon a Day Two for me… Thanks for your honesty! It really helps me a lot. (p.s.: I apologize for any mistakes in my English, I’m German…)

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