Sobriety is such a big word. It can be so annoying, so all encompassing. So joyous, wonderful, so freeing and like a little prison all at once. It has not only become my life, but given me a life.
I get pissed at sobriety sometimes: all here, in my face, all the time. So needy! So greedy! Sometimes I wish I could grab sobriety into a bear hug- so wonderful! So amazing- here! In my face! All the time!
Like any operation sobriety is a complicated beautiful tangle of me and other people- other lives and ideas and how I piece them all together and then put myself out into the world.
I am not used to or very comfortable putting myself out into the world. I tend to mumble when I speak because I am fearful of criticism. I’m unconsciously and so consciously afraid of being laughed at. I’m not afraid of dying, but I’m terrified of ridicule. It was so wonderful to be drunk sometimes because I didn’t even know I was talking. I was never a slurring drunk, people told me time and again that they could never tell I’d had too much to drink from the way I spoke, it was the way I sort of disappeared in my eyes. I was never a loud drunk- not one of those sort who starts yelling after beer four. If anything I would stop talking altogether- but that’s mostly because I drank steady alone.
There’s something that happened to me when I got sober. Especially from writing this blog, and some from knowing what I’m saying: I’ve found my voice. I’m finding my voice.
As a writer it makes sense that I have a voice: I believe we all do, regardless of whether you call yourself a writer or not. I believe we all deserve to be heard, even if it’s only you doing the listening. (This can be the most important use of your voice: talking to yourself.) The things we tell ourselves can change our lives.
I talk to myself about sobriety a lot. I think about it a lot, I write about it a lot. I think about what to call myself: how to define the person that I am. It used to be so easy: I was me, me who drank too much. Sobriety gives me so much more potential- I can be anything. I am brave enough now to call myself a writer instead of wishing I could be one. Because I write. I call myself a runner because I run. I don’t wish to do these things, I do them. So I can say that they are what I am. Even though I run really slow I am still a runner. Even though I am not on the shelves at the bookstore I am a writer. I call myself many wonderful things because I can- because I don’t just wish I act. I make the action. You can call yourself anything at all: and then you be one- even if it’s what you feel like is the worst one in the world.
All things are that simple. Really.
I struggle sometimes with the concept of sobriety: not the being sober part, but what it means. I sometimes feel like an imposter because I don’t go to AA, I don’t have a program, or a set of guidelines to follow. I have always built sobriety my way: in the ways that have worked with my life. This is the most important part. I am sober: this is the only requirement. Sobriety is an elastic stretchy suit that has plenty of room for every and any body. It isn’t a one size one way idea.
I stop myself, sometimes, from doing things I want to do because I won’t be the best at it, or even very remarkable at all. I didn’t run for a long time because I was embarrassed to walk.
It’s true that we can all be in the world in our own way. That we can all take the pieces of the parts that make us work and don’t worry so much about the rest. The spare parts will stick around in case you learn to use them another time. One of the hardest parts of longer sobriety is that you never really finish: it just keeps growing and changing and moving every every single day. Accepting this has been one of my bigger struggles: I am very good at completion.
Perhaps there aren’t needs for definition: we can only find the meaning in the act. And because it changes so much we can’t be graspy and grabby, or make labels. I can use my name to tell you what to call me, but calling me sober narrows my potential somehow. And also makes me bigger than the world.