What a Timeline of Non-Linear Sobriety Looks Like

Kelly Tompkins
8 min readOct 6, 2020

On sobriety, bad habits, and sobriety again.

When we first attempt sobriety, it feels like it has to be all or nothing. If you quit, and then you start again, it feels like a weakness. It’s taken me a couple of years to realize that it’s not like that but if you rely on what you see on the internet, it can definitely seem like it.

The internet only tells the story of non-linear sobriety as a relapse. If you drink again at any point, you’re just an addict who gave into temptation.

Imagery of weekend benders or ending up homeless after a “relapse” that I read online created anxiety for me when I first tried sobriety; I was afraid of failure. It also made me more prone to drinking again because sobriety felt like a weakness more than a strength.

It wasn’t until I was a few months in that I could see my sober journey for what it truly was- a roller coaster of trial and error. Even then, I still drank after a full year. Something that people don’t tell you is that sobriety is not as black and white as people make it out to be. Maybe this won’t help you, maybe it will, but here’s my timeline of going into sobriety, drinking again, to being sober for what’s hopefully the last time.

A rocky beginning

I don’t know if anyone just wakes up one morning and decides to quit drinking. There’s usually a trial period where your brain tries moderation. Maybe you did a 30 day cleanse, or made new rules for when you could drink like only having alcohol on the weekends.

Most of my previous attempts barely lasted a day but the idea of sobriety never strayed too far from my thoughts. But I didn’t have the right tools or mindset to go longer than a week. I remember being proud of going more than 3 days before I hung out with friends and immediately drank again. During this time, I was making stops before any gatherings, even therapy, to buy tiny bottles of alcohol. I knew it wasn’t normal but I had no motivation to stop.

It took an especially rough night of drinking and seeing my partner cry to convince me to give up alcohol immediately. His retelling of the previous night was devastating- an empty handle of vodka, a cut on my body I don’t remember, and him finding me passed…

Kelly Tompkins

Austin,Texas sober girl. Lover of horror movies, cats, and fitness. Occasional bad poet.