What Are You Sober For?

On Friday night I went to my first 12-Step Meditation group. It’s not a regular AA meeting – more like a supplemental meeting for those who want to add mindfulness and meditation to their recovery. It was my first ever meeting for anything 12-Step related, and it was really nice. 

I arrived to find my friend Jay sitting outside waiting for me. She was the one who recommended I join her, just to try it out. I must say, it felt so much easier walking into the meditation center with someone I know, who has nearly 4 years sober under her belt.

The meeting opened with introductions and open discussion, moved into a 20-minute meditation session with a focus on the body and self-directed kindness, then we broke out into small groups.

One of the men in my small group talked about a powerful realization he had during his early days of recovery. He talked about how he came across a photo of himself as a small child, smiling and innocent, and it broke him down. He realized that the small child was still within him, and that it was his duty to protect this small child. “Nobody will ever be mean to that little boy again  – especially not me.” he said to the group, and we nodded in silence.

On Saturday, I went to an old-school Alano meeting by myself. My first real AA experience, just like from the movies. There were old men sitting in the lobby drinking coffee (at 7:30 at night!) and others outside smoking. When I arrived, I tentatively got out, looked in the window, got back in my car and turned right back around, nearly driving out of the parking lot until something stopped me. I took a few breaths, centered myself, turned my car around, parked, and walked in.

The group was mainly older men, with a few younger dudes as well. I was one of two women. But they were so kind. And so honest. And even though I’m not religious, I joined hands with them and said the Lord’s prayer like I used to as a child. I mumbled along with the Serenity prayer. During the open discussion, I told everyone that this was my first real AA meeting, and that I had 99 days sober. To my surprise, they clapped for me, congratulated me, and told me to keep coming back. The other woman left the room for a minute, then came back with a 3-month chip for me. I was overwhelmed. This was the first time in a real-life setting that anyone had so warm-heartedly acknowledged and congratulated me for being sober.

Toward the end of the session, the Squad Leader mentioned the importance of staying sober for one another, and being authentic for one another, “because people are worth it.”

Because people are worth it.

Sunday morning, my day 100, I got an email from Belle in my inbox, in which she wrote about the reasons that she stays sober. She wrote, “I’m sober so i use it to grow and build the kind of life that i want to have.” And then she asked, “what are you sober FOR? what can you do / be / have in your life that you can only do if sober?”

What am I sober for?

I could say for my long-term health. For my mental health. For my relationships with others.

Those things are all true. Those are things I can only maintain if I’m sober. Those are things that I am sober for.

What else? 

I am sober so that I can really start to live by my values: honesty, openness, humility, kindness, compassion. Drunk me claims to hold these values dear, yet drunken me also thinks she’s sly enough to find ways around them when necessary.

What else?

I am sober so that I can be present, not only for others, but for myself. I am sober so I can learn to grow through my own discomfort of being sad, or being alone. I’m sober so I can begin the process of re-learning myself, and defining who I am.

What else?

I’m sober to protect the little girl inside who doesn’t deserve to be subjected to my crap, or other people’s crap. I’m sober for little Em, who needs a clear-headed adult to protect her from the world’s harms.

What else?

I’m sober for graduate school. Because I can’t be my best when I’m doing my worst.

What else?

I’m sober for all the hearts I’ve ever broken, and for all those who have broken mine. Yes, even my ex-husband. I’m sober because it allows me to recognize the mistakes I made with other people’s love, and it helps me recognize the shitty behaviors I accepted from others without question. I’m sober because it’s only with a clear mind that I can make the promise to myself to never do that again.

What else?

I’m sober for others. Because other people are worth it. Because there is not way for me to understand the types of battles another is fighting, and there is no way for me to know how to help if I can’t keep my mind clear and my body healthy.

What else?

I’m sober for everything. I’m sober so I never have to reach my rock bottom. I’m sober because I decided to stop digging. I’m sober because I can’t imagine going back to the way things were. I’m sober because I want to keep living, instead of willing myself to start the process of slowly dying.

I’m sober because I am. And that’s enough for me.

Day 101

14 thoughts on “What Are You Sober For?

  1. tarnishedsoul says:

    Thank you for sharing this.
    I have to admit, I don’t know that I have thought much about why I am sober…
    My reason is probably incredibly short-sighted…I just hate that I now have the label of alcoholic, and I suppose I just don’t WANT to be one.
    I like your positivity, however, because it is inspiring.


    • okayishness blog says:

      I don’t much care for the label of alcoholic, either. I said it out loud during both of the 12-Step meetings I went to, and it felt so foreign coming out of my mouth. While having the label can be helpful for a lot of people, I think that adding labels may deter a lot of good people who need some help, who don’t necessarily consider themselves to be alcoholics. I’ve found that allowing myself to really define how I want to see myself – as a non-drinker, alcohol free, whatever – helps get me back in the mindset of being 110% committed. Because I know if I had to admit right out of the gate that I was an alcoholic, I probably would’ve just kept on denying, and denying… whether or not it was actually true.

      Anyway, AA is great, but it’s not the be-all, end-all for sobriety. I believe that the mindset/label/program/support system that works for you is the best. Everyone else can decide for themselves what they want 🙂

      Congrats on your 24 days, by the way! The first month is NOT easy!


  2. Kevin J says:

    AA works for a lot of people, and has over the decades. That much is irrefutable. I don’t have a problem with the label alcoholic, getting it out into the open was freeing because I had known for a long time. I just had to get beaten down by booze far enough to say, “No more!” I’m not sober because I didn’t want to die, I’m sober because I want to live!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. damien says:

    “I’m sober because I can’t imagine going back to the way things were. I’m sober because I want to keep living”

    Those words capture the essence of why I am sober, perfectly. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Liked by 2 people

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