CeA friend asked me this yesterday, "How do you celebrate your sobriety milestones?" We laughed about it for a minute.
Then it hit me and I was saddened by just how much of a social construct alcohol truly is in celebrations, milestones, etc.
I didn't have a proper answer yesterday, but after sleeping on it and thinking about it, today I have an answer to that question.
The first step is to celebrate every single day. A huge part of my recovery and sobriety was finding something to celebrate every day. A few months ago I started a journal, my book of Good Things. Every day I write down something good or positive that happened that day, or that I accomplished. I use this book for reference to remind me why I quit drinking and chose to focus on my recovery in the first place. Sometimes you have bad days, it's inevitable. Addiction and relapse rely on negative emotions like depression and stress. Imagine having a little devil on your shoulder saying, "It's okay, this will make you feel better."
You have to turn around and say, "No. I will make me feel better."
I started of course by counting my sober days. Then my sober weeks. Then my sober months. I tried not to post on Facebook for every monthly milestone, but I wanted to celebrate and share my successes and hopefully inspire others - which I did and have!
My first proudest milestone was six months. I quit drinking in 2013 and made it four and a half months. When I hit that six month milestone, I felt stronger and more accomplished. I felt like I could truly beat this.
My nine month milestone hit right before a large music festival I attended, and I celebrated it to myself. I was nervous as all hell to go to a music festival surrounded by booze and drunk people. I don't do well in large crowds. After I made it through the four day festival without a drop of liquor, I celebrated again.
I couldn't believe when I hit a whole year. It was December 24th of this past year and it was my Christmas present to my family, and to myself. I posted all over Facebook, phoned my extended family, and woke up that morning grinning. I wasn't looking for validation by doing this. I am the only one who validates my sobriety. It was important for me and for my family to know that I am finally beating this disease. On my one year my wonderful boyfriend bought me a bouquet of roses (which I still have today) and took me for breakfast.
I celebrated separately with different friends and family members. I bought myself a bottle of sparkling grape juice. One of my biggest things was finding something else to drink at bars, and I chose ginger ale. Most people know me as the girl who rolls around town with a 20 case of ginger ale in the backseat... I wanted something different. I wondered if I would be triggered by drinking something that resembled liquor. I wasn't. I drank my glass of sparkling grape juice and felt accomplished.
My favorite part of celebrating my one year sober was knowing that from here on out I don't have to monumentalize the weeks or months anymore. I can start counting the years from here on out, my anniversaries.
But the important part is to celebrate every day. I don't wake up and think to myself, "I'm X amount of days/weeks/months sober," I wake up and tell myself, "I was sober yesterday and I will be sober again today." I find something beautiful in every day to make that day sober worth it.
Every party. Every show. Every stressful moment. I make it through all of them and I go to sleep feeling accomplished, and I wake up feeling accomplished and at ease.
I not only celebrate my sobriety every day, but I celebrate myself, my conviction, my strengths, my achievements, my goals, and my attitude every single day. Celebrate yourself as well as your milestones. Celebrating yourself will become the foundation of your recovery.
My glass of sparkling grape juice, celebrating with my boyfriend and his daughter.