For a growing number of people in our society sober living isn’t only for people who have already developed a dependence or a Substance Use Disorder. It is common for people choose to cut alcohol out of their lives altogether but they don’t have to, they want to.
They are living sober, but they don’t consider themselves to be ‘addicts’ and they aren’t quitting because they are stuck in what feels like is eternal hell-fire, flirting with their death. Many feel some of the negative effects of alcohol or have been grazed by its horns and have decided it might be time to let it go for good.
Here are some of the typical explanations you might hear from people who fall into this particular category:
They might be…..
fed up with face and stomach bloat
tired of battling unwanted and necessary weight gain
slightly discontented with the face puffiness associated with ingesting toxins
aiming to set a different example for their children or loved ones
having health or medical concerns or complications
sick and tired of the misery connected to experiencing recurring headaches or hangovers
annoyed and completely done playing the societal acceptance game or having to endure the pressures within their social or processional circles
or maybe, they’re just simply not feeling their best or like they are operating at one-hundred-percent
These people have sobriety stories, and they are important and worthy of telling and sharing.
Just because they didn’t hit rock bottom, lose their homes, custody of their children, all of their possessions, everyone’s respect, or their jobs, doesn’t make their stories irrelevant in the recovery world.
And we all know too well that any kind of lifestyle change is uncomfortable on some level and doing any kind of personal, internal renovation isn’t a walk in the park either. So props (don’t hate on my nineties vocabulary) to the people who fall into this category. Positive change is always worth the risk, but it’s never easy.
Then you have other sub-categories of sober living. In the category I belong to, we are also people in recovery. We are also living sober lives, and like the group above, we also chose our recovery. We wanted to change our lifestyle, and we desired to live healthier lives as better versions of ourselves.
But we are people who (for one environmental, physical, biological, or emotional combination or another) did develop something more lethal and toxic than an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. We cut it out of our lives because that choice was a choice between living or dying drunk.
Here are some of the explanations you might hear from a person in recovery from a life and death relationship with alcohol:
They might be…
Terrified. Their health has deteriorated rapidly and doctors have given them warnings.
Exhausted. Body trembling, blood vomiting, head pounding, heart throbbing, tired.
Ashamed and embarrassed
Feeling hopeless and empty
Stripped of everything that once meant something to them
Ostracized from friends, family, and any real connection or meaningful relationships
+in addition to the list of the first group
So let’s cut the bullshit already.
We’re all adults here. This isn’t a lunch table. Maybe this is the perfect time to say, “what works for some might not work for others”.
Blah blah blah. We all say that (ALL of the time), and everyone loves to see and hear themselves quoting it, but that doesn’t seem to be how we actually treat one another.
Clearly there is much to be defined and clarified and learned. Here is a tiny teeny bit of clarification from my perspective.
Let’s talk 12-steps. The twelve-steps aren’t for everyone, but they have worked for thousands and thousands of people who are alive and well because of them today. No. Not everyone needs them or agrees that they are ‘still relevant’ or understands them, but for people like me (and countless others), I thank GOD they exist. I am glad they were there when I needed them to help guide me through the days of my early recovery where every second felt like hell on earth, and I am still just as excited that they exist, as they are still active and living in my daily life today ten years later. While they are now also compounded with reading books, reading blogs, following Jesus, drowning in writing, lifting weights, and embracing my life- I would still love it if people would just back the fuck off of my twelve-steps. They work for those who want to work them and at the end of the day, that is all that is relevant. People’s opinions, columns, reviews, blurbs, or egocentric internet comments cannot take away the power they hold for the people who want to work them.
Sobriety is a broad term and it is important to remember that there are a number of important differences between the two groups of people I described above. HUGE distinctions; dozens of intricate, woven, complex, contrasts.
*It’s important to note: NONE of which make one group better or less than the other.
But what these differences DO mean?
Different starting points. That matters. Differing needs, motives, recovery approaches and processes. What that all looks like, what works, what may not, what seems appealing or appetizing, and what doesn’t. All of it. Not the same. Like not even in the same hemisphere.
The one thing that both groups and everyone in all of the other sub-categories found within the sober living community is this: we all want to experience our life. We have all chosen change. We all want to try. We are all willing to learn and to work. This mostly means that we want to live healthy, full, rich, present lives.
I am not sure any of that includes undignified bashing of the experiences of other people, most of whom we don’t even personally know. I cannot simply declare that yoga and a vegan diet didn’t help Sally in and through her recovery, just like Sally cannot tell me that Jesus and the twelve-steps didn’t save my life. Suzy wouldn’t be able to convince Jimmy who is throwing up blood and experiencing trimmers, that he should just skip medical detox and head straight to AA, and Jimmy’s ego shouldn’t ever tell Suzy that she’s delusional for believing that a life coach and some magic tea will save her ass next time she walks past a bar. It might.
So this is me, vowing to self-reflect any time I feel an urge to gouge Sally’s eyes out, shove my recovery program down Jimmy’s throat. I am going to try to do my best to remind people who this thing is all about excavation. It is a personal journey and a very personal process that we have been given the opportunity to do together. We’re all uncovering who we are, and learning to feel confident in our new skin.
We can all benefit from humbly taking a few giant steps back. Whether or not you belong or have ever been a part of a twelve-step program, you probably know that the first step is admitting- and it’s time to remind ourselves that we don’t actually have the answers for everyone else and our opinions don’t speak truth into existence for others.
With that, I would like to congratulate every single human who is reading this who has taken the brave step toward a better, different, or healthier life. Change is really, really, hard. Sobriety is hard. And believe it or not, despite the feeling that we’re in the battle of the recovery blogs, the lifestyle coaching, the recovery coaching, the peer coaching, the exercise gurus, the fit living, the clean eating, the meeting goers, the meeting bashers, the twelve-steppers, the religious, the more spiritual, the cliques, the people in the cliques who don’t believe in cliques, the top 10 whatever lists, the quiet recover-ers, the out-loud recover-ers…………
We really are ALL in this thing together. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are doing it wrong based solely on the fact that you aren’t doing it like they are.