In light of… well, all the light that’s been shed on our little corner of the internet in a recent Vox “The Goods” article, “Sobriety Is Having a Moment. Here Come the Influencers: Are sober and sober-curious Instagram influencers helpful or harmful for people struggling with addiction?“ I can’t help but take it personally and impersonally at the same time.
I’m not going to say for “as long as I can remember” because I will call me out on my own bullshit. Over the course of the last year, I’ve been not so silently sitting back, observing, commenting, picking myself apart publicly, picking trends apart publicly, then ultimately unfollowing any and all people and/or groups that no longer align with the personal sense of higher self that I am working towards.
Before that, and even up until at least a few months ago — fuck it, MY WHOLE LIFE I’VE BEEN A TRY HARD. I’ve got shitty self-esteem (that’s changing; see aforementioned “personal sense of higher self”), have struggled my whole life with being constructively assertive (can thank my childhood for that one), and will immediately tread backwards if I think I’m offending or hurting somebody’s feelings, out of the fear of abandonment — even if it’s from/towards a person my life would actually benefit from them being removed from my life. I still suffer from a tremendous amount of impostor syndrome and am just now learning it’s okay to accept and celebrate the fact that I’m doing a thing or two exceedingly well in my life.
I tell you all this because I want to tell you why I take that Vox article personally and impersonally, instead of just remaining indifferent.
I take it personally because as I grow, I’m acknowledging the fact that I do have a legit impact on people (thanks for reading and continuing to hang out with me, btw) and because there are LITERALLY NO WORDS to describe how much this commUNITY means to me.
I take it impersonally because of the things the article draws attention to, and I appreciate quite a bit of what was said, and actually agree with some of said things. No, I’m not going to specify which parts I’m talking about, I’m just making a general proclamation that I thought some of those things needed to be said. Some, however, did not. That’s neither here nor there and now I feel like I’m trying to somehow make any of this/that about me.
It’s not. It’s about US.
I have zero ill-will against those who are simply nothing more than “sober curious” (can’t tell you how much that pains me to even type… like, seriously, fuck me gently with a chainsaw on that one). That’s cool! Have at it with your 1000 hours dry, or Dry January, or Sober October or whatever it is that you’re experimenting with. YOU DO YOU, BOO.
I do, however, have some internalized resentment at more than a handful of people (who I no longer follow) who’s intentions have changed, or was never pure to begin with — things you don’t see UNTIL YOU’VE SURPASSED “JUST BEING SOBER” AND ENTERED INTO THAT FULL-FLEDGED EXPERIENCE THAT IS LIVING IN RECOVERY. I notice cliques, trends, buzzwords, and a whole bunch of other shit that will just make me enraged all over again — AND AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.
I actually lost a bit of sleep after reading this article, which sounds absurd but I give no fucks about that either, because I really sat on what all this commUNITY is, has been, and will be. I still don’t have all the right words and couldn’t properly form the sentences that were separately dancing throughout my head, but never could form an actual cohesive thought… and I just kept thinking about a statement I read on some social platform, basically scoffing at folks who “live out loud” and “what would they have done without the internet?” That one hit me hard, even though that person probably has no clue I even read their comment on somebody else’s post.
You know, I’m not sure what my recovery or life would like before the internet existed; an instantaneous, viable option for finding folks not unlike myself, who can empathize and sympathize with all my struggles, triumphs, and stagnations. HOWEVER, I don’t think my life or recovery WOULD look much differently, to be honest. I still would’ve written as much as I do, I still would remain committed to the fact that alcohol will never make any good situation better, and it will always make a bad situation worse. The internet makes it easier to connect, and I think we can all agree that 99.9% of the time, connection is the opposite of addiction, and the connections we form with others, can ultimately play a huge role of us healing ourselves. Together, but separately.
The thing I love about the privilege of being able to live/recover out loud — is the connections we make and the conversations we have. The kind where ego is cast aside, and folks really dig into their humility and gratitude. We discuss the real meat-and-bones of who we’ve been, who we are, and who we are working towards becoming. I’d be lying if I said my gift of voice didn’t give me a feeling of purpose. But know where that gift comes from? Me. With or without the internet.
Which brings me further into how intertwined sobriety and recovery are, and these are things you literally cannot achieve if you’re just “sober curious.” Idk, maybe you’ll always be a low bottom, or a person who has “one too many” maybe 3 times a year, or whatever. I try to understand that perspective, but I’ve never been one of those people, because it took me next to no time for my drinking to go from “something fun to do”, to something I prioritized, and then came the pill (benzo) abuse, and the online extramarital affairs, and then the drinking quite literally became a life or death situation. Maybe not in the physical sense, but my life was basically I choose alcohol or I choose everything and everyone I love. I was forced into sobriety by way of a DWI (with both of my kids in the car), and it was only then I saw my life and myself for what they’d become, and I chose to leave the alcohol in the dust, never to be returned to again.
So, my gift of voice, which has always been there — internet or no internet — and what that has to do with sobriety, but more specifically, recovery. Recovery gave me back to me. Over the past 1018 days, the best gift my recovery, by way of sobriety, gave to me — was me. I NEVER got a chance to know who I was or figure things out like most “normal” kids do. I said it a post or so back: “I virtually went from strict childhood to adolescent mental breakdown to bounce back + off the deep end to with child from ages 18 to 22– I never had the opportunity to find myself, so I chased a comfort I’d never capture, by drowning my sorrows + self-hatred in booze (and boys and benzos) until I was 31. Enter my “wake-the-fuck-up call” in 2016; it took until I was 33-34 for my pink cloud to stagnate, stripping any remaining buffer that separated me from reality.”
I’m 34 (and a half) now, and it’s taken me EVERYTHING I’ve been through, to get to this point, this moment, this second, to be able to start finding who I am and learning to love myself, even if others don’t.
I’m learning to:
– Assert myself
– Establish, set, define + defend MY boundaries
– Not backtrack on things I feel with personal conviction, just because I’m scared of upsetting somebody else
And the list goes on and on, but we talk all the fucking time about “build a life you don’t want to escape from” but YOU CANNOT BUILD A LIFE UNTIL YOU BUILD OR RE-BUILD YOURSELF FIRST. YOUR BODY, YOUR MIND, YOUR HEART, YOUR SOUL — THAT IS YOUR HOME, AND SOBRIETY IS THE GROUND, BUT RECOVERY IS THE FOUNDATION UPON WHICH YOUR HOME IS BUILT, AND UNLESS YOU’VE GOT A HOME TO GO TO — YOU CANNOT BUILD A FUCKING LIFE YOU DON’T WANT TO ESCAPE FROM.
So, shout out to sobriety for paving the way for recovery, and thank fuck for recovery — because it’s given me the gift of me, and I’m pretty committed to nurturing, nourishing, and maintaining that precious gift until I’m one with earth.