“We May Encounter Many Defeats But We Must Not Be Defeated.” – Maya Angelou
Finding Your Sober Tribe
Booze had been such a major part of my life for so long, all of my adult memories had liquor woven through them: Getting sick in college on daiquiris and cheap frat beer, Halloween with the kids, bringing a wagon with wine bottles tucked in blankets to “get through” the night. It was all about booze and the people that loved it. When the kids were small, I’d round the bend towards home after the workday, and the urge would kick in at the same spot on the road. I was heading into the second shift, leaving my regular job and starting my other job as a working mom who had kids needing attention, dinner needing to be made, and other adulating requirements I desperately wanted a break from. So I drank. It seemed fine, and normal and acceptable then.
The years rolled along and the drinking continued, but somehow the fun piece of it edged further away without me being aware that it had left. Drinking was a daily requirement rather than a celebration marker or treat. Home from work and cooking dinner = wine. Out for dinner at the pub = draft beers. Sunday = Bloody Mary or Mimosa, because, Sunday. I continued to succeed in various careers, so no one really questioned the drinking. Everyone around me was doing it, and if they weren’t, I had no use for them. They were boring, sobriety was not welcome in my world because I didn’t understand it, and my world became increasingly smaller so I could focus on when I was going to drink next. The drink had grabbed a tight hold on me, and I was slowly sliding into its abyss.
When I started exploring the world of sobriety and the sober community, I first thought it was all about AA and admitting you were powerless, living a life of abstinence and going without while friends and family gathered round with mugs in the air shouting “cheers” with me left standing off to the side, sulking and miserable. I ran away for a couple of years, thinking no way could I not drink. Eventually, I came back and started building a sober toolbox: Combing through posts on forums to find people like me, reading memoirs, some yoga and journaling but it still felt like I was wearing a sober suit that didn’t fit right. My problems felt worse or weirder or something…other than. This mindset was a giant obstacle that kept me from accepting sobriety as a sustainable option for my life for over a year and a half after I started on my sober journey. I didn’t realize that it was actually Candice, my “wine witch” whispering in my ear, the alcohol itself working overtime on my neuropathways to keep me in her grip. She’d harnessed some of the reasons that led me to drinking in the first place, flipped them to suit her needs and turned them into reasons to keep drinking. She fed me a constant diet of self-loathing, telling me I was truly misunderstood and needed an escape which could only be provided by continuing to drink.
When my sobriety finally stuck in November 2019, it felt lonely, so I started actively seeking out my own support community. I certainly didn’t want to hang with the oddball normies that ordered a glass of wine and left the restaurant with some remaining in the glass (how do you even do that?). How was I going to find my tribe, people who were sober and even celebrated sobriety as a viable life choice, but weren’t “weird?“ I was cool, after all, and had to make sure my time was spent around hip and progressive types, otherwise I’d be bored out of my gourd. This took some time to pull together.
I started getting deliberately curious, jumping into random webinars, following people on Instagram, reading memoirs, taking classes that were interesting and I could get through without booze or cravings. Then I discovered something: Most of the people I was being drawn to had long-term sobriety under their belt, but they just weren’t shouting about it, weren’t making it a Big Deal. It was just there, idling in the background like a reliable sober car, given attention and care so it could keep humming along and supporting them. It was just integral to who they are. They weren’t prioritizing it in their messages or shouting about it from rooftops necessarily. It would come up, and they talked about it in a matter of fact way, didn’t hide it but didn’t make it all about that. I wanted that. I wanted it to take up less space in my brain, to feel natural and be my new normal.
Heading into my second year of sobriety, which started on moderation.org after a time of fits and starts, sobriety is revealing itself to me as my foundation. Through connection with other sober people I’ve found pieces of my story, and we all share similarities. Turns out my problems and history aren’t all that different from those that have gone before me. My personality traits are still all swinging and dancing and crying about together in a big swirl just like before, but now I get to witness them fully present. Even the tough stuff is approached from my sober foundation, I can sit with it. Sobriety hasn’t changed who I am, rather it’s reconnected me to the person I used to be that I left behind long ago.
Post Submitted By: HopeL
Suggested NA Beverage: Iced Melon Mint Tea