I am 21 years old and ten months sober. If you do the math, you’ll realize I’ve never had a legal drink in my life.
Lately so many people have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it” – “It” being going to bars and parties and being around so many people who drink when I no longer do. They seem to want some enlightening answer, but I don’t have one.
It just doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel tempted to drink, it’s not some big internal battle with myself each and every time I go out. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s not an option for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be around it. Other people can control themselves with alcohol and I completely respect that. I choose not to try, and everyone respects that as well. That’s the thing, no one cares if I drink or don’t drink. They don’t have a good time based on whether or not I am sober.
But back to the question – how do I do it?
1. I make sure to always have a water or pop in my hand. People are less likely to question it or offer a drink that way.
2. I look in the mirror and actually like what I see. Then I think back to last year and what I saw, which was someone who had gained weight, who was always bloated and tired. I don’t want to be that again.
3. I surround myself with people who love me and support me, which hasn’t been a hard thing to come by. Nearly everyone has my back here.
4. I’m honest. If people ask me why I’m not drinking, I just straight up tell them that I don’t trust myself to drink and haven’t for a long time.
5. I repeat things back to myself, things other people have told me that have stuck with me as a reason to stay sober.
6. I talk about it. Being sober is something that probably comes up at least once a day, it’s not something that I push aside and revisit on the weekends.
7. I remind myself of the terrible relapse dreams I have had and how I have woken up in a complete and utter panic, only to realize I was okay and it was a dream. I know the reality would be 4359048598 times worse and I don’t want to experience that kind of disappointment in myself.
I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. And again. And again. I am so glad I hit rock bottom and stopped drinking when I did. I was looking back on blog posts and photos from about a year ago and I feel like I was always writing about how tired I was, or how I had too much going on and no energy.
Well no shit, Beth. That’s what happens when drinking takes the front seat in your life. I can’t believe I literally was blind to that fact a year ago, but that is part of the insanity of the disease. You justify things and manipulate them so that the root of the problem never appears to be alcohol, when in reality it is. Always.
I can see that clearly now because I have more going on in my life than ever, yet I am healthier and happier than I remember being in a long time. My life has balance again, and I don’t need to rush through things in order to get to the next, so that I have time to go out and drink with everyone.
Instead I can be content in my internship office on a Friday night, eating pizza and laughing with co-workers. I’m content with a glass of water at a party because I know that water isn’t going to sway my mind and assist me in making terrible choices. I’m content getting free pop at the bar since I’m sober cabbing. I’m content to be in a state of mind where I know I will remember everything the next day. I’m content because I am a better person when I am sober. My relationships are more purposeful and more legitimate. I’m content to watch all the interactions unfold around me, and laugh when appropriate or intervene when necessary. It sounds cliché, but I see people in a new light now. I can honestly say I have no desire to be that falling down drunk girl, because you know what? It’s not fun and it never ends well.
I’d rather be the sober one watching it all unfold.