Reading literally saved my life. What do I mean by that? I mean when I got sober in 2013 I had a lot of time to myself and the internet was my friend. I read addiction and recovery information, blogs, memoirs, and any other kind of book I could get on my kindle while living in Cancun. I still read as much as I can, but I hardly give reading the attention it deserves on this blog. But that’s going to change. I want to share with all of you books that have made an impact on my life, ones that I couldn’t put down, and ones that I simply enjoyed.
First up is Sober Stick Figure by Amber Tozer. If you don’t know who Amber Tozer is, I knew her name from reading AfterParty Magazine. She used to write some pretty kick-ass essays. She is also a comedy writer. Then more recently, I saw that her memoir was going to be released and I knew right away that I would want to read it. Memoirs are my absolute favorite type of book to read, and even more so when they are about addiction and recovery. It’s something about the real stories that resonate with me. Reading others’ makes mine easier to tell.
In Sober Stick Figure Amber Tozer lovingly draws us pictures via stick figures, of life throughout her childhood, drinking career, and recovery to illustrate her story. I found the doodles to be a nice compliment to the reading. Tozer starts the book describing the first time she ever drank alcohol and goes on to detail her family life and growing up around alcoholism. It didn’t take me long to figure out I could relate to pretty much every word of her story. From her life in small town Colorado, to drinking as a college athlete, to leaving her family and home behind to find herself in the big city. I didn’t find myself in a big city, but I did make a geographical change to Cancun.
I loved hearing about Tozer’s journey through navigating adulthood, bouncing around from job to job while trying her hand at comedy, and all the while – drinking. Her love affair with alcohol heartbreaking, understandable, and exhausting – the reader will root for her the entire way. She also experienced 9/11 in New York City and hearing about it in her book was emotional and moving. Her relationships with men also mirrored mine. She was always on the hunt for something, whether it was a job, a relationship, or just a sense of security living in a new place, and alcohol was the thing she turned to in good times and bad, just like me. Tozer’s memoir was hard to put down because it was like reading my own story.
She explained perfectly the agony of wanting to quit drinking and not being able to do it on her own. When she finally made the decision she had endless nuggets of wisdom to offer us. She said, “I learned that alcoholics are wired differently. We gave obsessive, loud minds, and when we drink to shut it up, a craving (also known as an allergy) kicks in that is so strong, we have to drink more until we pass out. Ut oh! That first drink leads to many drinks. Both our minds and our bodies are different than ‘normal’ people’s. This information is a huge relief and I stopped hating myself so much.”
Tozer’s memoir takes you through the ups and downs of her life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the drunkalog, and the recovery years. You’ll end up remembering the name of every one of her family members. Her story comes full circle when you realize just how happy she is to be sober. A letter to her Dad at the end is a real tear-jerker.
I love the way she explains how the 12 steps transformed her life, but that is just what worked for her and everyone is different. She ends the book listing several different ways people can get sober and providing hope for anyone reading. The best part is that her story is funny, riddled with curse words (which I admire haha), full of honesty, and it has a happy ending. I am inspired by Amber and I am grateful she had the courage and time to write this important story.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book,
“Drinking takes and takes and takes; sobriety gives and gives and gives. The natural joys I found in sobriety are way better than any chemically-induced high, little joys that are authentic and beautiful. There are no more horrific hangovers, no more managing a double life, and I am no longer a slave to something that kills me.”
Buy your copy of Amber Tozer’s memoir Sober Stick Figure here.