When I first got sober in 2016, I was constantly surrounded by other like-minded people who have struggled with the same demons. My environment consisted of individuals who understood me and who acknowledged the deep pain associated with abruptly terminating self-medicating behaviors. Fast forward to 2018: I move to NJ with my boyfriend and life resumes to normal—Regular people doing normal adult things, alcohol usually included. For the past 4 years I have convinced myself of my own immunity to alcohol-ridden circumstances. I observed others drinking to obliteration and reiterated to myself, that I can, in fact, watch and be unaffected. I was simply an observer to others’ escaping. I remained grateful and regretted nothing regarding my decisions. I secretly craved that test. I was testing my strength and my ability to remain sober despite being bombarded with my drug of choice. In those moments, I wasn’t thinking about myself and my sobriety. I was thinking about my ego. I desperately sought normalcy and I wanted to fit in. This was my attempt at clinging to my past, any remnants to a social life that I nostalgically left behind. With an ego on my shoulder and a blatant failure to stay true to myself and my integrity, I lost myself. I got tangled into situations that were not related to me because it distracted me from my own demons.
I remember my boss expressing concern for my sobriety as I yapped about alcohol-centered weekends. I proudly, yet arrogantly substantiated my strength in sobriety, like a badge of honor. Reflecting on this conversation, I feel heartbroken. This person who genuinely cares about my sobriety is more fearful than I am. I aim to regain my integrity and stop being a people-pleaser, once and for all. For anyone reading this, digest this cautionary tale. Accept your circumstances and listen to your intuition. It’s perfectly okay to pass up a party or to leave a dinner early because of alcohol’s presence. Whether one day sober or one year sober, it’s okay to acknowledge the pain associated with being surrounded by alcohol; it is not a sign of weakness, its a sign of honesty. Constantly subjecting yourself to alcohol doesn’t make you strong, it makes you foolish. Respect your objective and always stay fearful of the future.
Even though I slipped into old, toxic ways and behaviors, I didn’t lose everything. I’ve wasted everyday being angry with myself, I’ve lashed out at people that love me and I nearly lost that deep connection with myself that dictates my morals. Throughout these struggles, I can at least say, that I have maintained my sobriety. I couldn’t imagine looking back on all of this with the deep regret that I had ruined my sobriety. When everything seems to crumble into pieces, your sobriety is your lifeline. It’s your saving grace that provides you with the strength to feel worthy and in-control. Looking back on every mistake, mishap and misfortune, your sobriety is the one constant that you can be proud of, despite your many fuck-ups. I’m human, I fuck up, a lot.