Size Does Matter in Sobriety

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.


16 thoughts on “Size Does Matter in Sobriety

  1. […] It feels so good to be closing in on that year mark. I love this post about how length of sobriety doesn’t matter, but rather “the width” does. It […]

    • Hello petal, I just saw your post and it’s lovely. Thank you for giving my post a little guest appearance, And for giggling like a 12 year old boy, it’s clear we are on the same wavelength with our humour :))

      The 10 month mark was SO important to me. I think it is the most important milestone in all sobriety. It’s the point where the denial really falls away. 300 days of sobriety is what we need to maintain permanent sobriety. Trouble is so few people get there to actually experience it.xx

  2. Clare says:

    I’m confused by the “predominantly online” part. What do you mean?

    • Hello Clare,

      I mean people who spend a lot of time on forums dedicated to stopping drinking. They are wonderful tools for a person to initially use to identify that they have an alcohol problem, but very isolating if used long-term or relied on as a singular method of sobriety.x

      • Clare says:

        I see. I use the sober blogging community exclusively, although my real life friends and family know I’m sober too. I tried AA and it wasn’t for me and I have a hard time when others imply that my recovery won’t last if it doesn’t look like theirs or traditional. What do you think?

      • I think that if you’ve moved beyond the point of identifying there is an alcohol abuse problem then keeping online support to a minimum is something very helpful long term.
        Sobriety happens outside amongst real 3D people, drinking is an isolating thing so recovery shouldn’t be. Online forums can give the impression of being a real place- but it’s not- and that illusion stops us from developing the tools we really must become equipped with in order to live a fully-rounded life. A life that alluded us in the drinking years.

        Of course no one should bully you into doing it Their Way. But it is certainly worth considering shifting the balance so less time is spent online and more is spent out in the world-not even talking about not drinking. Just living, taking up new hobbies, seeing the world through new eyes, that sort of thing. I’d certainly recommend trying it for a while and seeing how you feel x

  3. Clare says:

    Totally agree. 🙂

  4. Inneedofgrace says:

    This is a New concept to me. Sounds about right !!!! Guess its time to get back to work. Unfortunately getting back out there takes a few $$$$$, but heck when I was drinking
    (6 mos. ago) money was No object ( if I wanted to drink, which was ALL the time). 😉

  5. This post changed everything for me! You put words on what I know I need to do differently this time around. And although I’m going to count days for a while, I’m really focusing on adding width (or depth) to my days.

  6. Caroline says:

    I’m a mess when it don’t drink. Haven’t apparently mastered coping mechanisms for life situations when the time was to do so, I just drunk my anxiety, betrayals, pain, and loneliness away.
    Now that I’m sober, I’m a mess. Again.
    Doctor is unhelpful, I mean if I’m to pop pills, what’s the difference between numbing the feelings with booze or prescriptions..
    I don’t want pills, I want to feel and learn to deal with these feelings, like a proper person.
    I want to be clean, sober, and get through the mess that’s currently me, grow up to the other side, where “normal” adulthood lives.
    Meanwhile, I’m not depressed or suicidal or anxious for no reason. I don’t want pills. Hell, now that I’ve awoken to the awakening, drinking doesn’t help nor appeal anymore.
    I’m just getting to know my own self, developing this thus far arrested personality, and shrinks want me to zombiefy this raw wound that’s me now.
    I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone.
    I’m feeling lost on this journey, but that’s a natural feeling when you’re looking for your new and improved self, isn’t it?

    • Hello Caroline, thank you for your comment petal, it’s very brave of you.

      It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to feel lost at all. The reason I set this place up was so other women would not have go about it the Long Way like I tried to so many times.

      It’s sort of like trying 20 different ways to get in your house -or just using the key. If you have the key and you know you have the key then climbing in through the window is a lengthy waste of time.

      Send me an email at so we can get you feeling more certain about things x

  7. […] LENGTH of my soberness is now a periphery measure only , extremely well-descripted in this “Size Does Matter” post. Howtobesobergirl brilliantly argues that what is relevant instead, is the WIDTH of my actions. […]

  8. cleareruk says:

    I keep coming back to this post as I am nearly 10 months sober – but stuck in a rut of middle aged boringness – my life has diminished to cooking cleaning and office work all of it at home. My 3 children on the cusp of adulthood will be gone to college / university in next couple of years and I just cannot forge ahead and enjoy the world.
    Your words resonate with me but I don’t know how to move on from my narrow safe small little life.. Truly I am so boring

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