Two by Four

I’m four years sober today.

It never gets old for me. I’m amazed, with each day that passes, that I haven’t had a drop of alcohol. There were times this year when I wanted nothing more but to dive into a chilled vat of Pinot Grigio. I made a choice each of these past 1,461 days to say no to the booze. The thing is, it never gets easier.

I don’t have to tell you how pervasive alcohol is in our society. No matter how ‘woke’ (I will never forgive y’all for ruining that word BTW) we think our nation is becoming, getting completely shit-faced after a hard day of adulting has yet to go out of style. That said, there’s been growth in the sober movement. Dry bars are popping up across the nation (road trip, anyone?). More authors are spinning memoirs about their journeys with booze. The selection of non-alc alternatives have grown, with famous likka brands getting in on the teetotaler action. The culture may have its pockets of stagnancy but it’s slowly shifting to make room at the table for those of us who celebrated our final ‘Last Call’ years ago.

Still, it’s always five o’clock somewhere. So how have I managed to avoid the swill over these past four years (including through a whole pandemic)? I just remember these two lessons:

Sobriety taught me to mind my business. I don’t know about you, but I love mess. Nothing gets my ego going more than hearing some tea about something that has nothing to do with me. It’s a part of my shadow which I once defined myself. These days, I comfortably embrace it while keeping it on a leash. Keeping myself busy with the massive internal work that comes with living a sober lifestyle makes it easy to do.

Once your vice is gone, it’s intriguing how quickly your own shit comes to the surface. Getting sober meant more journaling, more yoga, more tears, and – yeah – more laughs. Finding humor in my own tea has been eye-opening and humbling. I haven’t given up my weekly Real Housewives of Atlanta/Love & Hip-Hop viewing habits, because Kenya Moore and Erica Mena are what good trash TV is are all about. However, minding my own business, digging into my own dirty laundry, and checking my own inner gossip has made me a better flawed human.

Sobriety taught me empathy. Quick disclaimer, though: I am NOT an empath but I love them down. They are an adorable bunch. Some of my favorite people in the world would give you their last French fry – the nice long one, too! But alas, I am not that person. Not too long ago, I conversed with a colleague about ‘friend types’. Some examples we shared with some giggles in between:

  • The ‘3am call’ friend (not me, the DND Queen)
  • The ‘cold hard truth-telling’ friend (used to be me)
  • The ‘doormat’ friend (please be for real LOL)

Me? In true Aquarius Sun/Capricorn Rising fashion, I am the ‘Now What?’ friend. I’m the friend you drearily call during your lunch hour after venting to ‘3am call’ friend. Give me a call when you’re ready to make an action plan and then, like, ACTUALLY act on it. Hit me up when it’s time to bury the bodies (although that could be difficult to do in the broad daylight of the lunch hour – but I’m the friend that will figure out that workaround, too). That energy can admittedly be a bit much, which is where the lack of booze is another advantage. Getting sober helped me figure out when in my life I could stand to be less strategic and more compassionate in my relationships. A question I try to ask when communicating with my friends in crisis is: “Do you need comfort or advice right now?”

LISTEN. Do you know how many friendships I may have salvaged in my twenties and thirties had I asked this simple question? Dah well. You live, you quit drinking, and you learn.

So I raise a glass of bubly to myself, for the work I have and continue to put in. To the family and friends who keep me motivated to stay sober. There will never be a day that goes by where I don’t think about drinking, and that’s a reality of my addiction that I’m learning to accept. I look forward to the lessons sobriety still has in store for me. I mean, I waited until I was in my forties to change careers and get my Masters. I’m in no rush.

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