The more you put in, the more you get out.

Succeeding in ones recovery takes time, effort, planning and preparation. As time passes we grow through this seemingly endless process. In many respects sobriety is, indeed, like climbing a mountain – a constant procession of false peaks tempt us and keep us focussed on our goals.

A metaphor this may be, and it takes a better writer than me to do it justice.

Enter Gayle, of Sober Bliss who has done just that. So pack up your sandwiches, grab your metaphorical hat and read on…

At the weekend I went on a little hike with my family. It was a big occasion, especially for my youngest because he’d never been on a ‘proper’ hike before so the night before we sorted out all the equipment, walking boots, camera gear, picnic blanket and we prepared what would be our breakfast when we reached ‘the summit’ Now the mountain we climbed is only 150 meters high but like many things in sobriety it was a ‘first’ for me and my husband and we were really looking forward to it.

We set off really early at 6.30am so we could be at the top to watch the sun come up and as we strolled along in the dark my first thought was that I would never even have contemplated doing this in the ‘drinking days.’ It also got me thinking that early sobriety is like climbing a mountain – there are so many similarities and it can certainly feel like we’re embarking on the biggest climb of our lives when we set off on our sober journey.

© Gayle Macdonald

Much like we prepared for our trek, we also plan and prepare for our sobriety however that might look like. Whether it be for a set amount of time or not, there is much to do.

Research is the first thing we do, we seek out support, we learn what we need to do for ourselves, we read books and blogs or we commit to a program. Then we dig deep and look at ourselves – we ask if we can do it, what will we do if it gets tough – like the hike, It’s been a long time and I was worried about my fitness and strength. But, I talked it over with my husband, we planned what we needed, when we would go and how we would prepare.

Much Like We Prepared For Our Trek, We Also Plan And Prepare For Our Sobriety However That Might Look Like. Whether It Be For A Set Amount Of Time Or Not, There Is Much To Do.

Gayle Macdonald

Next comes the real planning, which route will we take, will we try to do it alone or join a support group? Much like my sobriety I never imagined doing the hike alone, I was too scared in case I’d fall and be found days later having been eaten by wild boar, no I needed support and there is nothing like the enthusiasm of a nine year old to keep me going and the rock who is my husband to rely on.

Early sobriety is like climbing a mountain in the sense that when we first set off we are full of enthusiasm, we know why we’re doing it, what we want to achieve and how we want to feel when we get to the top (perhaps this is the only difference because sobriety is a lifelong journey) There is lots of chatter, excitement, we talk about how great it is, how wonderful we feel and proud that we made the commitment, that we’re actually doing it!

© Gayle Macdonald

Now, our little ‘mountain’ is hardly K2 but looking up from the bottom it certainly felt like it. Gradually we began to slow as the flat plains turned into steeper, rocky terrain and this point for me, is when early sobriety is like climbing a mountain. The first hurdle is always the hardest, we look up and wonder if we will ever make it, the rocks and steep slopes look too much to handle and we doubt our decision. However, we remember why we’re doing this, check we have all the necessary equipment, stand tall and put one foot in front of the other and keep going. After all, we’ve only just started what would be the point in turning back now.

Making it up the first challenging bit gives us a huge boost, sure we might be a little tired and achy but we look back and see that we made it through the first tricky patch, we’re spurred on with fresh energy and renewed confidence.

We’re happy as we carry on, we get into a routine, we learn how to avoid the stumbly bits that might have us slipping back to the bottom and with every step our strength grows and we even haul ourselves over a big hurdle which feels brilliant.

© Gayle Macdonald

Then, out of nowhere we find ourselves struggling we need to take a break. We see others farther ahead of us and wonder what it’s like up there, yet we feel stuck unable to carry on but not wanting to go back either. This is where we rest, take stock, look at the available routes ahead of us. We might lean on someone for support and ask which is the best way forward.

We then take a look back and we see just how far we’ve come, we see we started all the way at the bottom and although there is still a long way to go we feel proud and above all we just know that we don’t want to go back and begin the climb again. Sure, it’d be easy to just give in and slip back down but we want to get to the top, we want to see the sun come up, we want to see the world at our feet so we take a breath, gather our strength and again put one foot in front of the other. Because, although it might be hard work pushing forward, the thought of going back and doing all the planning and preparation again, of starting at the bottom, knowing there are tough bits waiting for us is not an option. After all, we’ve already made it through the worst bits, the part where we’re unsteady on our feet, just starting out and where the top seems so far out of reach.

So, we carry on putting one foot in front of the other again, it gets easier, we become stronger and the further we go, the happier and lighter we feel, we can see our goal and anticipate the joy we’ll feel when we make it to where we want to go. Slowly we inch forward and the top gets closer, we can almost reach out and touch it. There is nothing going to stop us. Even the people we pass who say it’s pointless, that there’s nothing to see, that it’s all a big let down and we’re crazy, that there’s something wrong with us and we’d be better off staying at the bottom where it’s safe and easy.

© Gayle Macdonald

Bugger that! We don’t care what they think, we are doing this for us and we find the strength to push all self doubt away and carry on using what we’ve learned to carry us forward.

Gradually we creep forward, gathering strength and confidence and before we know it we reach our goal and it’s the best feeling in the world! We stop and look around, take it all in. We sneak a little look back to where we started and we can’t quite believe it. We jump up and down like Rocky and feel that we can do anything – and we can!

We Are Doing This For Us And We Find The Strength To Push All Self Doubt Away And Carry On Using What We’ve Learned To Carry Us Forward

Gayle Macdonald

When we got to the top of our mountain it was exhilarating.

The 30 to 40 minutes hike up the hill was hard work, we stopped many times (well my husband and I did, our youngest basically ran up there letting out a huge whoop when he got to the top) It was harder than we thought and typically for us we took the most difficult route! But, it was so worth it. If you feel that early sobriety is like climbing a mountain and it is, in so many ways, then just focus on how you will feel when you reach your goal.

Our goal that day was to have breakfast at the top and watch the sun come up. We made it and I cannot tell you how good it felt. The hot chocolate from the flask was the best I have ever tasted and even our ham and cucumber breakfast sandwiches were delicious. Don’t things taste better when you eat them outdoors after you’ve put in some hard work? It was a huge sense of achievement and the best thing is that we wanted to carry on, to do more and see what we can do next.

There are peaks higher than the one we climbed that day and we already made plans to tackle them soon.

For me that is one of the gifts of sobriety, a huge boost in self confidence, the feeling that we can do this, we can go on and achieve more than we ever dreamed.

About our author, Gayle

Gayle is passionate about helping other Mums transform their lives and the lives of their families by choosing to live an alcohol free lifestyle, through self awareness, self care and self discovery. Being a sober Mum is the best thing that she has ever done and has led to so much freedom, peace and clarity. Gayle’s mission is to help women just like her see that living an alcohol free life is wonderful, empowering and liberating and should be celebrated.

If you need help with your planning, intention setting and how to make those changes stick then maybe let Gayle guide you through your first 42 days with Sober Bliss?

You can always take a stroll over to the Sober Bliss website, or follow Gayle on Instagram and Twitter.