Sobriety is only for drunks, junkies, and AA-goers. Sobriety is only for people who can’t control their alcohol intake and have no other choice but to quit. Those are the ideas I subscribed to my whole life. I think they are ideas that much of society still subscribes to. Other ideas society perpetuates? If you can’t drink alcohol something is wrong with you. Being called an alcoholic is worse than being called a criminal (or equal to?) Sobriety is lame. Sobriety is dumb. Sobriety is unobtainable. Sobriety is not for me.
I had this thought embedded in my mind 5 years ago. Sobriety was not even on the radar for me. Why would it be? I was a young, “healthy,” “happy,” party girl who was living her best life. I was doing all the normal things someone in their 20’s does - I worked, I traveled, I paid my bills, I partied. I worked hard, I partied harder. I got saucy at happy hours, I loved the bitter taste of salt and lime after a tequila shot, I never said no to free drugs, and I was the one fist pumping on the dance floor until they turned the lights on. I had stories that made all my friends cringe. I thought it was hilarious. I enjoyed eating Wendy’s hungover and piecing together how I got to my house the night before. This all seemed like completely normal behavior to me.
Along with these behaviors came big feelings and consequences. I began to feel shame and guilt for things that I had done. I began to wonder if it really was normal to black out so much and to enjoy going out so frequently. My heart would sink every time I hung my desperate hopes on the memory of a random friend or a complete stranger to tell me exactly what I had done the night or day before. Their facts weren’t always accurate and I was at the mercy of their own drunken memories. When the pain of these occurrences and the shame and self-loathing began to eat away at my soul, I began asking myself, is sobriety for me?
My mind went back and forth, cradling this question. Of course, it’s not for me! I don’t drink every day. I don’t need alcohol to function. I am not homeless or jobless or sticking a needle in my vein. I am not an alcoholic. I am not morally inept. There’s no way in hell I’m going to AA. I am not like those people. I don’t have a “brain disease.” Fuck it, sobriety isn’t for me.
In addition to all those thoughts, I also was under the impression that sober girls don’t go to nightclubs or get dressed up or fist pump or make friends with strangers or make spontaneous decisions. Because these details were a part of my identity, I wanted nothing less than to give them up.
Toward the end of my drinking, my blackouts became fewer and farther between. I tried really hard to moderate my alcohol intake. I was only going out 1 or 2 times a week if that. But to be truthful, every time I started drinking I had anxiety whether it would be a night of destruction or a night of fun. Would I wake up confused and embarrassed for drinking too much or relieved for drinking just enough? It was a gamble every single time. And it was annoying as hell that I had to worry about that before imbibing. It’s not ideal to be at the bar whooping it up with your friends, while simultaneously counting your shots and vodka/sprites, wondering when was a good time to cut yourself off. Well, Greg just bought me a red headed slut shot so I HAVE to take it. Surely it won’t be the one that sends me over the deep end into the blackout abyss.
Except the problem is, you can never predict which drink will be the trigger for a night you will regret.
So when did I figure out sobriety is for me? When I finally felt my anxiety lessen. When I realized I didn’t have to play the gambling game anymore. When I found that having NO alcohol was easier, healthier, and more fun for me than restricting myself to 1, 3 or 7 drinks and letting fate decide where my night would take me. When I figured out I make my own sobriety path and program, not anybody else. When I realized sobriety can be rewarding, beautiful and beneficial to me, even though I didn’t drink every day and I wasn't homeless or jobless. When I proved to myself I can dance, go out, socialize, and enjoy life without a chemical high. When I realized I am not missing out on anything.
If you’ve had even one of these feelings - desperation, shame, guilt, paranoia, anxiety, embarrassment, or depression as a result of your drinking, then sobriety is for you. I don’t care what you look like, how old you are, where you live, what your job is, or how often you drink. Sobriety is for you.
It’s for you, it’s always been for you, and will always be available to you. I wish someone had told me that before I got sober. I wish I knew sobriety isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s not something for defective people. It doesn’t mean you’re robbed of all future fun. It doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous. It’s not just for people who identify as alcoholics.
If sobriety is for this party girl, and I have grown to actually love it, then it’s definitely also for you. I hope you know that. I want you to take that fact with you for when the time comes that you have that lingering question inside you: is sobriety for me? You're damn right it is.