Sobriety (on the) rocks: what it feels like to live sober

Sobriety (on the) rocks- what it feels like to live sober (1)
Sobriety (on the) rocks- what it feels like to live sober
In response to two photograph challenges (#cultivatingenough and
#talesoffebruary), I posted on Instagram last week about my feelings regarding sobriety ahead of a weekend away with friends.  
The response that followed confirmed my long-held suspicion that many of us are looking for a safe space in which to talk about drinking, and more specifically about our own relationships with alcohol:
How much is too much?  
Do we have a problem?  
How do we define ‘problem’?  
What is the lure of booze?  
When did so much of our adult identity become so intertwined with liquor of one form or another?  
Why is it so difficult to stop drinking even if we want to?  
Do we want to?  

The edgy ‘How are you coping?’ chats that littered talk during Dry
January prompted a foray into trying to write about this topic but I didn’t delve into what it feels like to live sober, the many and contradictory feelings that come with the territory.  This is only ever something I’ve done on Instagram, using the hashtag #sobrietyontherocks.  But now I’ve decided to share last week’s post here too because it’s beginning to feel like an area that I need to integrate into my work more.  Let me
know what you think!

I’m going away with friends this weekend and much of their talk as we prepare is about what bottles they are bringing. Mine are sparkling water and an elderflower cordial. They’re a bit different from the rest – 0% proof and all that.

Mostly I’m okay with not drinking. More than okay really.

For me sobriety feels less like deprivation and more like freedom.

Both freedom from (compulsion, obsession, the past) and freedom to (honour my physical and mental health, show
up as I want to, embrace the future).

But it isn’t always easy.

Sometimes I just want to feel “normal”, to be able to join in and not sit slightly tight lipped during the camaraderie of prosecco planning.

And sometimes I crave the possibilities that alcohol seems to engender.

The thrill of the night wide open in front of me, the prospect of unlimited spontaneity. Who knew where the evening would take me, what adventure awaited. That allure of possibility kept me going back long after the fun had faded.

Of course the change isn’t all about abstinence. Age and stage are factors too, both for me and my former comrades-in-bars. Even when we do go out now, the options are not what they were. Babysitters and early mornings create other kinds of boundaries for them where sobriety sits for me.

Other possibilities emerge though.

Real moments of connection where once fuzzy declarations of love stood.

The pride of not having to loosen or numb to get through an event let alone enjoy it.

Accepting this is where I am, who I am and how I feel, not hiding that truth even from myself.

So with my two bottles sat on the worktop ready to pack, I find that in with the melancholy and nostalgia for the good old drinking days (which weren’t always all that great really), there’s also an enormous amount of gratitude for letting go of that world and that way. I didn’t think it were possible but it is.

And I am open to all the new possibilities that this opens up.

What’s your relationship with alcohol like?  Some read these words and understand
exactly what I’m on about; for others it won’t resonate at all.  Get in touch via email (rae@raeritchie.com) or the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Sobriety (on the) rocks: what it feels like to live sober

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