It’s been 21 days since my last drink.
The picture above is the from the running track where I’m spending my mornings in Haiti. It feels a little like a 3rd world rehab program, except I’m the only person who can speak English and I’m doing all my recovery work independently online.
Today is special, but not like I expected when I started my recovery journey. Three weeks of sobriety doesn’t feel like a major achievement, the decision to quit drinking was the real achievement. Each milestone feels more like separation, one day farther away from the prison of addiction. I’m putting miles between me and that hell hole called alcoholism. Each day helps me see that the past is over and I’m free to move forward.
It’s positive. It’s hope. It’s progress.
There have been some hard moments, but overall I feel momentum building each day. Recovery is starting to feel unstoppable. The temptation to drink keeps shrinking, almost to nothing this week. I keep finding old habit triggers, but they are weak and too obvious now that I’m back in control of my brain.
Sobriety feels normal. That’s my big discovery this week.
Only after writing this post did I find remember all the talk about 21 days to form a new habit. That was interesting, especially the parts about people needing at least that long (and often longer) to adjust to a new pattern of life.
“These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” ~ Dr. Maxwell Maltz
That sounds something like what I’m feeling. The old mental image is fading away and I’m embracing the new sober Tony.
Alcohol is not my friend. Nothing positive came from my relationship with the bottle. It was all lies from the beginning. I played the fool and paid the price. Drinking can’t fix anything, it never could.
After three weeks sobriety, my mindset has radically changed and I’m feeling free from the addiction trap.
- I don’t feel deprived but liberated.
- I don’t envy drinkers but pity them.
- I don’t want to forget my problems but face them.
- I’m not drifting without purpose but aiming to enjoy every day.
- I don’t live in the past but the present.
At 21 days sober – it’s a beautiful place, better than I ever imagined.
** FYI: The article I linked about says 66 days is the more realistic time frame to form a new habit. That’s a word of caution for early recovery, change is possible but it takes time.
On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.