actually maybe I'm still sorting this one out
February 22, 2018 12:08 PM   Subscribe

a comic by Edith Zimmerman: My First Year Sober
posted by everybody had matching towels (19 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Edith was such a force at The Hairpin, I hadn't realized how much I missed her work until reading this (she's the editor at Spiralbound now, where this is published). She's such a wonderful storyteller, I really loved this comic/series of comics.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:15 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nice comic. I just made it past my first nine months without drinking and look forward to twelve months. I miss alcohol and still grieve it being gone from my life - It was the solution for many bad moods and the best friend you could have when happy or enjoying something. But it's good to get beyond constantly processing the poisonous aspects of it. I've never felt clearer.

Life is a fun process, alcohol included. It's nice to have a few decades of bad behavior and then balance out into another decade of calm and focus. My body is sure as hell thankful I'm trying out sobriety (or a version of sobriety - still smoke pot weekly, just don't drink, but that's a huge shift) - I've picked up a sugar habit I never had before and have found other ways to process grief, anger and joy. Music's back to being fun to hear. It's a total transition though. Socializing is easier without alcohol, oddly. I think that's because i don't need that first drink to calm into a room. I just enter rooms now, no 'where's my drink' needed. That's nicer.

Cool to see comics like this. The first year is supposed to be the most difficult. I never want to revisit the first two months though. Wow, that was impossible.
posted by Peter H at 12:33 PM on February 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

The first year is supposed to be the most difficult.

The second year is difficult in a different way - the heroic struggle of the first year is over, and now comes kind of settling into the new normal, without either drinking, or with Not Drinking being such a big thing. But yeah, it's easier.
posted by thelonius at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

I've often thought of creating something about my first last few months of drinking and first few months of sobriety, it was hard... I thought it was impossible. Finding out it was hard but possible was an immense relief. As others have said, it gets easier. I think it's 5 years for me this May, it might be 6. It definitely gets easier though.

So yep, that was written and drawn much better than I could muster, so thanks for the link.
posted by diziet at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

During the first year of my sobriety, the need to talk or write about my recovery was strong. After that, it waned, as alcohol (the need for it, the freedom from it) faded from my life. I hardly think about it now.
posted by SPrintF at 1:49 PM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

That was a painful but touching read. Her need to communicate and be understood and talk about her addiction is kind of hard to watch, because it is so scattered and unfocused and loquacious that it feels sharply, uncomfortably similar to talking to an extremely drunk person. I hope she keeps getting better.
posted by clockzero at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Doing stuff - who knew?" It me. I picked up my six-year coin not long ago, and sometimes I am quietly astounded that I spent so much time and money drinking when now I've literally got all I can do with my time, money, and energy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

Close to 7 months into my sobriety now. Some times it's hard, other times I scarcely think about it. Great comic!
posted by triage_lazarus at 3:03 PM on February 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

My addiction (2 months sober) isn't alcohol, but so much of this rings true. And I will carry "the opposite of addiction isn't sobriety - it's connection" in my heart.
posted by hanov3r at 3:09 PM on February 22, 2018 [6 favorites]

Love this- These comix are raw and honest.
posted by Bob Regular at 3:10 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I also started knitting again when I quit drinking. I can also turn my brain off while knitting, only now, instead of a hangover at the end, I get a new hat.
posted by Ruki at 3:12 PM on February 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

I’m having some trouble parsing these because of the page and panel breakups. I can’t tell if it would work better in print but I’m a bit lost in this presentation. Which is too bad because I want to hear what she has to say.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:33 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Like rough sketches before a proper first draft.
posted by Segundus at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I get the impression it's all of the related pieces from varied journals displayed on one page?
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:59 AM on February 23, 2018

It was 4 years for me last week. I still haven't talked to anybody about it. Everyone close to me is still drinking.

I thought it was a good comic, about trying to find meaning in it, and defining it. But from what I can tell, that never ends, because there's not one answer. Once you're seeing clearly again, you're back to grappling with comprehension of life itself. It's an endless struggle to build and rebuild healthy ways to cope. It's seeing your friends drink and how it really affects them--how it really affected you--and understanding that in new ways. It's empathizing and bridge-building in place of self-medication. One of the biggest surprises for me was truly realizing how the scope of my vision had limited itself to counting down until the next time I could get hammered. Now I think of the future as my whole life, with a certain number of naps before the end. It feels completely different.

I liked the writing style in this comic because it wasn't like a drunk person to me, it reminds me of the "monkey mind," the running dialogue we get in our minds sometimes that can be hard to stop. One of the reasons I loved drinking was because it stopped the mind chatter. So now I have to be mindful instead, but that's okay.
posted by heatvision at 3:32 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

When my partner quit drinking, he took up origami. At the same time, for partly-related reasons, I had developed PTSD symptoms and took up knitting to help with that. He's moved on to different types of making-stuff now but three years and some change later, a lot of our evenings still look a lot like "I knit stuff; he {solders stuff, wires up electrical doodads, saws up boards, 3D prints dinosaurs, etc.}" It's quiet, and it's good, and we can have conversations, and the next day both parts of the conversation remember what was sad because no one's blackout drunk, and I'm more fucking grateful for it than I could possibly express.

Our lives are a lot better now, individually and as a couple. I mean, I need to learn to branch out into socks because let me tell you, you can knit a lot of scarves and hats in three years of secondhand sobriety and I will never wear all these hats. And we basically lost all of our friends and had to develop a whole new set because surprise, the people you used to drink all night with are not necessarily the people who can support you in your newfound sobriety.

But it's so much better now, and I'm happy for us, and I'm happy for Edith.
posted by Stacey at 6:55 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'll be 30 years sober this year. I still clearly remember being able to think of almost nothing else. I wrote and talked about it a lot. It was a revelation when I first noticed that I wasn't thinking about drinking or about not drinking for long stretches of time. Mostly it's a non-issue now but I'm also very clear that I could very easily think that not drinking being a non-issue means I now can safely have a drink. It's always good to be reminded of all the ways that drinking makes life far more unmanageable than it helps to manage it. Today I continue to work on upping my tolerance for the regular discomfort that is part of life so I don't ave to reach for something to medicate my difficult feelings. Making connections is a big part of how I do that (and one reason why AA works for the people who make those connections there) so I would agree that the connection is the primary part of sobriety.
posted by Plafield at 4:05 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

"The difference between knowing I had a problem and actually wanting to stop was liking the sober version of myself I imagined."

I've never had a drink in my life but that line still hit me like a punch in the gut. The main problem in my life, the problem that all my other problems stem from, is [thing]. Whenever I think about fixing my problem with [thing] the version of my life I picture is much less stressed and panicked and depressed and anxious and guilt-ridden- but also more joyless and boring.

I can't seem to truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that the trade-off will be worth it, despite how clear it is logically. I can't seem to convince myself that the picture is wrong, or that there's a chance that it's wrong. So I end up putting it off. Tomorrow I'll be responsible and stop, but I'll let myself have one more day. It's been years and tomorrow hasn't come.
posted by perplexion at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2018

I quite drinking on Aug. 9th 2015. Mostly by accident. The only time I can remember not drinking weekly for most my life was in Basic Training. I was on an increasing trajectory of frequency and quantity from the moment I had my first drink way younger than I would ever want to admit. Much of this comic resonated with me, and I took like over an hour across two days to read and process it all. Everyone's journey is unique.

I decided to see how I felt after a month of sobriety. Spoiler: No changes. I still felt like hammered shit, my liver functions tests were shit, and my literal shit was troubling. It took me maybe three or four attempts to actually make it a whole month. When I felt no different I decided to give it another month. Still pretty much the same, but I'd managed to spend some $600 less during those two months, and I hit 60 days. I wasn't exactly proud of this, and I kept it to myself, telling pretty much no one I'd quit drinking. I figured I'd fail. I wasn't working a program, and I wasn't doing some kind of "one day at a time" sort of thing. I wasn't saying I wouldn't ever drink again (I didn't want to have the guilt of falling off the wagon). I set goals and I knocked them down. Three months in, I felt no different, but I started playing some mental games. Decided I'd try for six months, and if that worked, then a year, and I promised myself I'd celebrate one year of sobriety with the world's biggest bender (I know). But my logic was, I can do a year, so it won't be that big of a deal to just start over, and maybe I'll just start abusing alcohol on an annual basis ( a huge improvement).

One of the factors I never thought of was the gamification of the whole thing. There's a reason the AA chips are important. I could drink tonight, but then I would have to restart my count, and I am so close to that one-thousand days I can almost taste it.

At some point I started enjoying the not drinking. I've saved a ton of cash. I do indeed feel much better now. It took maybe a year for me to start not feeling crappy all the time. Well, I still feel horrible most days, since I have a chronic pain condition. I was using alcohol partially as a way to self-medicate that condition (along with others). Sure, booze makes the pain diminish, but next day it's back even worse and with a hangover to boot. But once I hit the year mark a lot of things objectively changed. My medical tests were much improved. My poo was back to normal, and I actually felt secure enough to no longer hide the fact I wasn't drinking.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

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