We are obsessed with length in sobriety. How long have you been sober? When is your sobriety date? How many days, weeks, months do you “have”?
Size does matter in sobriety: length is irrelevant though.
Width is everything
How wide is your sobriety? What does it encompass?
It becomes obvious how tenuous someone’s grasp on sobriety is by it’s size. The narrower a person’s life is? The closer they are to drinking.
If it primarily consists of isolation. shutting the world out, venturing out to work and go to sobriety meetings ? Or god forbid conducting their sober life predominantly online? It won’t last. And any length achieved so far is a pure testament to willpower
No. Please don’t get me started on willpower and how f*cking awful it is as a barrier method for drinking. I’d rather swallow my own face than use willpower to stay sober. How horrendous are thee? Let me count the ways…
It baffles me when we give credence to the length of someone’s sobriety, Because it is essentially meaningless. Like a staring contest to see who breaks first. It’s definitely not enough to keep a person sober, and it creates huge, messy, dramatic incidents of returning to drinking. Cultivating a belief that we’ve thrown our precious sobriety length away so we’d best keep going down this destructive path.
Width in sobriety is new friends, fresh places, activities and perspectives. People who are very newly sober but have worked this out will not drink again. There a direct correlation between people who embrace a full sober life, (and this concept of width) and successful sobriety.
It’s also equally obvious why there are so many people who fail at maintaining long-term sobriety. Who ignore width and focus on length exclusively. The 95% who fail at it to be precise.
People who have been sober a long time through using willpower know they are missing out, it is evident in the contempt or fear they show everything that is outside their narrow social sphere. It is really very sad, the danger that they are encouraged to see in the wider world.
Because to me that really is the most unbearable thing. That everyone is recovery is actively, deliberately warned against engaging with the wider world. That we are taught to believe that width in sobriety causes trouble. That it is a slippery slope back to drinking rather than the thing that saves us, should we choose to be brave enough to listen to our instincts and try it.
Wide sobriety is not using alcoholism as an identity. It’s being bigger than your own addiction and then bigger than your own recovery. It’s about achieving what we never could whilst choosing addiction: being a fully rounded, happy, fulfilled person. Someone who is interested in lots of different things. In a world bigger than ourselves. Bigger than the supposed fears, dangers and temptations that surround us.
There are no real threats to sobriety when concentrating on width. But in length there can only be limits. None of us can control time. All of us can control our potential. No one wants to feel limited. We all just want Freedom.
And like sobriety the size of freedom matters. A lot.