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Why do I advocate for sobriety?
Because I feel better now than when I drank alcohol. It’s really that simple.
I talk about it because never in a million years did I believe I would ever love being sober. That my day-to-day would feel so much better, that eventually I would be able to have more fun, and that I would enjoy being myself in my life so much.
Trust me, there is no one more surprised than me.
I advocate for sobriety because, sadly, it has a nasty stigma associated with it. I was expecting the negative stigma from a discussion around addiction—I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the same social stigma attached to a conversation about being sober.
One or two weeks without alcohol and we cheer each other on. We make it through Dry January and we get a high five. Continue our alcohol-free streak much longer than that and people around us start to raise an eyebrow. The high fives stop, the cheers become quiet pats on the back, and instead of celebration, the atmosphere turns to skeptical concern.
Hmm. Why is she still not drinking?
When that occurs, it totally sucks. It couldn’t just be that I felt better. It couldn’t just be that I slept better. It couldn’t just be that my anxiety significantly dropped and that I was happier. I found that in the society we live, those are not “good enough” reasons to stop drinking alcohol. Those are not significant enough reasons to warrant leaving the drinking tribe. Instead, we subconsciously insist that there has to be a rock bottom or dark story if someone decides to quit, for good.
Why would anyone stop drinking alcohol if they don’t have to? We have been sold this twisted narrative. When I was drinking alcohol, I believed this narrative.
Even though I was feeling the best I had ever felt, the pressure to come back to the tribe began. I felt an undercurrent of those around me questioning why I was sticking with it. Very few people questioned me directly, but it’s a feeling I will never forget. It’s like they could not accept that I chose to quit drinking because I felt better. That reason was baffling and an inconceivable excuse to leave the tribe.
I struggled with this for a long time, and eventually, I was forced to get comfortable with the fact that others will judge me for not drinking alcohol. I was going to be judged for being sober. But if I was going to stay sober, I needed to be at peace with this.
I also needed to be okay with knowing that there will be a lot of people in my life who believe that I have a secret rock bottom or some horrific story hidden. That no matter what I say, they will be convinced of that. I had to be comfortable with the possibility that others will insist that I am an alcoholic or have a disease.
I can honestly say it took some time, but I am 100 percent okay with all of the above, and you know what that feels like? Freedom.
My sobriety feels like freedom.
How can we expect more people to question their toxic relationship with alcohol sooner if the goal (to be alcohol-free) has a negative social stigma attached to it? When the thought of being judged for being sober feels just as bad? I believe that there is just as much stigma out there around sobriety as there is around addiction and recovery. Unfortunately, we have managed to make these two thing synonymous. We can’t begin to fix addiction until we fix sobriety.
We have declared people who drink alcohol normal and those who are sober abnormal. That is not okay with me.
I believe that by rebranding, normalizing, and shining a light on sobriety, we might have a chance to inspire, empower, and motivate people to question their own relationship with alcohol much sooner.