A few months ago my sister called me with some bad news. She said that she…
Being a sober person comes with a few false assumptions; that I was once an alcoholic, that I’m boring/no fun, that I’ve never drunk alcohol (lol), that I’m too serious/uptight or that I can’t handle drink (ok, this one may be true but remember we’re talking about a poisonous substance here). But the biggest myth that I want to debunk is that sober people believe drinking is toxic. Period. Firstly, literally speaking, alcohol and drugs are toxic substances and I do not deny that. Not to be preachy, but take it from someone who has seen the toxic side of these substances and still believes they aren’t all bad, if you’re going to drink/take drugs consider moderation. Moderation is a funny word in sober spaces, and by that I mean, I might as well be blaspheming right now. Moderation is basically blasphemy because it is actually incredibly difficult to do because both drugs and alcohol naturally make you crave more, but if you’re going to do it, and I know some of you will or do already, that’s my best advice. What I do want to reiterate is that I don’t believe they are completely toxic for us… sometimes.
Hear me out, sober friends. Not every single time I drunk was an absolute disaster, not every single time I took drugs did I push my body to the point of collapse, sickness or hospitalisation. I do remember having fun, just as much as I remember not having fun. It’s important for me to add here that in no way am I advocating for The Sesh Life. But neither do I believe that everyone should be sober. What I truly believe, what is in my heart, is that everyone should be free to do whatever the fuck it is that they want. But I also want to open up a conversation around sobriety and drinking culture that doesn’t separate the two. I’m fed up of the “us” and “them” mentality that I hear a lot in the sober community and I really want to encourage a more nuanced, compassionate approach to not only people who currently drink/take drugs but the older versions of ourselves who once did that too.
It really is hypocritical to shame/judge/exclude a whole group of people when we were once part of that group of people. I understand that it can be triggering to associate ourselves with drinking so naturally the coping mechanism for that is to push it away, to completely shun it and in early sobriety I definitely did the same. I had an alcoholic partner at the time and one of the boundaries I had put in place was that if he was drinking then I didn’t want to hang out with him. Safe to say, I didn’t see him much at all. We grew further and further apart and I think my sobriety only heightened his awareness of his relationship with alcohol/drugs which thus caused more conflict than good. It was one of the most crushing heart breaks I had to go through, watching the person I love (and who I knew tried to love me in his own weird way), love a harmful substance with more vigour and purpose than he could love me, and thinking that only if I could go back to that life, if only I could drink and “loosen up”, stop trying to be sober, we could be together again. I had to escape that relationship, I had to push myself into sobriety feet first because when getting fucked up stopped being fun, and started damaging my body, my mind and my soul, I had to choose myself. I never stopped loving my partner. I still do now, over a year later, I just love myself more.
Drink and drugs nearly killed me. Multiple times. I was the definition of a wreck head. But I fucking loved being a wreck head. Drink and drugs introduced me to great lovers, fun friends, enabled me to dance for hours, to see the world a bit more colourful (before it turned dark). Yes, I know I could do all these things without the help of substances, but the point is, I didn’t. It happened. I was once a cocaine loving, booze guzzling, wreck head waking up week after week with sad eyes, bad breath and a fuzzy memory only to do the whole shebang again. But I was doing what I needed to do at the time to make myself feel good. Just like I am doing what I need to do now to make me feel good. The two look different, now I choose to cut fruit on my kitchen counter instead of sniff lines off it. But both of these acts are a way to get closer to pleasure and steer away from pain. In We are The Luckiest by Laura McKowen, which was the last book we read at the Sober Girl Book Club, she quotes Mariannne Williamson who says that “all human behaviour is one two things: either love, or a call for love.” So how can we judge those who drink or take drugs when all it really is, is a call for love?