I was talking to a friend the other day, about sobriety and breakups and other things that feel like getting punched in the guts. We were comparing “what have YOU done sober” stories. I have gone to more weddings sober than him, but he has gone on road trips with friends sober, while they were drinking, which I thought was impressive. He was amazed that I had traveled to Europe sober, and I was in awe of how he was going through a break-up without booze. It felt like we were comparing badges of honor. We were stocking up on sober experience, to make it to the next level. We were going on these impossible missions, and coming back alive. So now I’m thinking about sobriety as a series of missions. The question we ask ourselves is “Am I going to be able to make it through this xx without drinking?” and even if we’re feeling confident that we can do that it’s like “What will it be like doing xx sober?”
I will admit that viewing sobriety like a video game may feel like I’m trivializing the emotional energy this whole thing takes. I’ve been sober for two years, and last night I had to get up and walk around my dark house, breathing, remembering that I was here now, because I was running “here’s how life would be different if I had quit sooner” scenarios through my head. Then I went to sleep and had a drinking dream. That’s just a note to say that I still feel it, and it rarely feels light. But. This mindset around specific activities being missions on this crazy sobriety journey, I like.
I don’t know if you’re sober, or you’re a little curious about the sober thing, or if you’re my mom and you read all of my blog posts just to make sure I’m OK. Regardless, you’re doing hard things all of the time, and I bet you feel like it’s all normal and you don’t deserve to celebrate it. You’re an adult, and of course you should be able to xx. You should be able to go to a Christmas party where you’re ex will be, and you may additionally think you should be able to do that sober. Sure. You totally can. But that doesn’t mean that the loosely tied sober community out here doesn’t think you are goddamn amazing for doing so, and I bet there is a member of your current support system who would like to have the chance to congratulate you on doing that hard thing. It’s easy to forget, especially in sobriety, that you’re facing hard things head on, and it’s making you stronger. Every sober wedding, every sober trip, date, fight, lonely night, hard day at work, every SINGLE day you get out there and did what is hard to you, is a mission completed. And in theory, at least in my experience, knowing I can do that thing one time makes it easier the next time.
I got married about a month ago. I asked that there not be alcohol at the wedding, for one because it was at 10am, but also because large groups (40 people is large, OK?) plus booze make me feel anxious. I didn’t think of drinking once- we had so much coffee…it was dreamy. I felt like asking for that and feeling confident that my guests wouldn’t be terribly annoyed with their weirdo sober friend was a mission in itself. However, if I hadn’t done all of the mini-missions before that, like a sober bachelorette party, drinking sparkling juice the night we got engaged, celebrating with friends over tea, and on and on, this sober wedding mission may have felt impossible. It didn’t. There were moments, but I got through it. It’s pretty much the best surprise ever then, when the hard thing becomes enjoyable. That is undoubtedly some next level shit.
What kinds of missions are you going on? Does it feel easier every time or not? Tell me! I’m always interested in what you’re figuring out along the way. Keep up the good work, friends.