Have I made it appear as though sobriety is like Paradise? Unless, your idea of paradise is like one of those haunted house rides at carnivals. You know, the kind that start out in the sunny daylight and quickly take you into this black hole where you don’t know what’s going on, who will jump out at you, and you’re on edge just waiting for the next scary thing to happen. But when it’s all over you realize that you didn’t die and it’s all ok. Then, yes welcome to Paradise.
A few weeks ago a really great article came out in the NY Times called The New Sobriety. I thought the article was great and so many of the people I follow either contributed or were noted for being influential in recovery.
But, it stung a lot of folks.
The sober world is no different from the rest of the world in that we can’t ever understand what one persons experience is like from their perspective. And, I get it. For some people who are sober their life choice was get sober or die. Literally, those were their only options. Having known some people who chose the latter, I don’t take this subject lightly.
For those who chose to sober up there wasn’t this amazing period of enlightenment in which they found out that their lives were epic and totally worth living. In fact, it was probably quite the opposite. Instead, they chose to stop drinking and found out that yes, things are as bad as they thought and now there is literally no escape from it.
Their road to recovery didn’t come from books ordered on Amazon Prime and probably didn’t include cases of $9 fizzy water. It was dark, lonely, and more difficult than anything they have ever done. And while I am sure that they feel grateful that they didn’t die they still had a ton of rough stuff to deal with that makes everyday living difficult. Trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, and the list goes on.
I am grateful every single day that sober up or die wasn’t my only option. Not even close. My option was more like sober up or don’t live. You see, drinking for me stalled my ability to do anything else. When I was drinking then I was focused on drinking. When will I drink, what will I drink, maybe I won’t drink, maybe I will just drink one glass, tomorrow I won’t drink, today I will drink, fine I’ll just drink…you get the point. I wasn’t going to die and I wasn’t causing trouble. In fact, I could probably have continued on and still wouldn’t be facing any threatening consequences. Oh, except feeling like garbage, having debilitating anxiety, and being overall unhappy most of the time.
I wouldn’t have read any books, I wouldn’t have seen the amazingness of my children, I wouldn’t have understood what it’s like to feel okay, I wouldn’t have learned how to cope with my anxiety, I wouldn’t have met new friends, I wouldn’t have found my passion for writing, I wouldn’t have understood addiction, I wouldn’t have done much of anything.
But even for me, getting sober wasn’t easy. It was all consuming (and sometimes still is). It’s a choice that I have to wake up to and commit to everyday so that I don’t get back to that place. It’s a constant battle with my ego to not fall trap to that old mindset/advertising/media.
Personally, I thought the article was epic. It helped me see the fun side of sobriety and understand that I am not at all alone. It also reminded me that it’s happening. People are choosing not to drink and they are calling out the ads, the myths, and breaking out of the stigma that you have to drink to have fun. They are demanding better options, making healthier choices, and doing it all in the name of happiness. They like to party and they are doing it loud and proud without drugs and alcohol. They are drinking delicious craft beers that are zero proof and they are sipping fancy mocktails while they sing karaoke at bars. Yes, you read that right.
They are going to be the people that force big businesses to think differently about their products and the ones that make life sober look cool not only for me but also for my children who will someday be faced with the choice to drink or to not drink. They are out there with their choices and there’s nothing anonymous about it! They are paving the way for other people who may wonder if they could be happy not drinking.
The beauty of sobriety is that there are lots of different ways to get there and some of those ways are becoming more and more mainstream. My hope is that we can use these types of articles, resources, and ideas to pave the way for people who are on the verge of going to the dark side.
I couldn’t agree more with the words of Chris Marshall, “Perhaps if I had today’s options floating around my Myspace page,” he added, “I may have stopped drinking before things progressed to massive anxiety, broken relationships and physical dependence.”