The Doldrums of Sobriety

This is going to be hard for me to write, but I think it’s an important part of my first year of sobriety that I don’t want to simply gloss over.

Right now, and for the past several months, I have been giving in to a general attitude of pessimistic existentialism. I’m not flat-out nihilistic (at least, not all the time) and I do believe that there are many opportunities for meaning-making and growth.

But in general, I feel downtrodden, anxious about US politics and how they will affect me and my loved ones in the years to come, uncertain about myself and my vocational path (what’s new), and generally ambivalent about my own future.

This is going to be the hard part to write, and I write it with the disclaimer that I absolutely would NOT harm myself intentionally, or attempt to take my own life, but… in general, I am feeling more and more apathetic towards living. When once I used to fear horrific and fatal accidents, a cancer diagnosis, or any other form of unexpected death, I now feel slightly more apathetic about it. This may be depression rearing its head once again, though in a less intense and obtrusive way than when I first got sober. Now, it’s more of an underlying current that runs its course whether I am laying in my bed alone in the middle of the night, or out among family and friends.

I think a lot of this has to do with the current state of things, politically. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, I’m sure most of us would agree that we live in uncertain times. There’s a lot of infighting, divisiveness, and ugly confrontations happening across the country – indeed, it’s spreading around the world.

As someone who is studying to work in the human services (mental health) field, who has generally tended toward the optimistic realist side of things, I feel this overwhelmingly consistent sense of uncertainty, frustration, fear, and disappointment in the state of the world today, and it makes me feel guilty – hypocritical, even, because of my resistance toward talking to anyone in real life about it. I feel like I should be able to pull myself out of it. i try, and try, and try to redirect my attention toward the good in life… But it’s hard to see the good news when, as a society, we’ve all been trained to see is the bad.

But, here’s the main thing: I am not immortal, my mental well-being is not inevitable, and as a sober person living in this fucked up, up-and-down drunk world, I need support. I hate saying that, because for some reason, I’ve convinced myself that I shouldn’t need it. And that’s so far from true. I don’t want to walk around feeling as though my life has limited value. I don’t want to secretly wish for a swift, accidental death in order to relieve myself of the burden of having to keep living straddled with debt, personal doubt and anxiety for another 50 years. I don’t want to feel as though I live in a society that openly embraces its own destruction, and the destruction of its most vulnerable citizens.

But here I am. Keeping myself busy can only distract me from the dull ache for so long. There is no magic potion that will soothe my frazzled nerves at days-end, no elusive trick that will erase my worries with a few swift swigs. I am here and I am exhausted. Exhausted of living this way, exhausted of being exhausted, exhausted of looking outward for a way to fix what’s inside.

Sobriety is wonderful for a whole host of reasons. I don’t regret putting the bottle down 8 months ago. What I wish – what I really wish – is that there was an easier way to smooth the transition, that stigma against sober people wasn’t so harsh from the non-sober world, that there was some way to be kinder to ourselves and others. That we could stop shitting on each other, for like, a day. That I didn’t have to feel the need to keep this sobriety thing under wraps to preserve the comfort of other people around me, or avoid making myself too openly vulnerable.

I’m just tired. And this is mostly a rant, where I can air some of my personal grievances. I swear I’m not always this grumpy – but, just as pink clouds and sunny days are part of sobriety, so too are the glum, black cloud days where despite your best efforts, making sense of anything makes no sense at all.

Day 249.

17 thoughts on “The Doldrums of Sobriety

  1. soberinvegas says:

    thank you so much for sharing. I am right there with you…sending you good thoughts. There are times we feel strong, and times we feel down and weak. We need support and we need to acknowledge when we are feeling sad or anxious or apathetic–thank you again for writing and sharing. ❤ Hearing you share makes me feel better about the downward feelings I've been having lately. Thank you.


  2. Barb Knowles says:

    You put your honesty out like an open wound, when really you were an open wound before and just didn’t know it. At least that’s how I feel I was and your post reminds me of that. So you are gradually healing. 249 days is awesome Alcohol, as you obviously know, is a depressant. But I still feel depressed frequently. I just know it for what it is now. It’s so easy to be down about politics. I tell my students that their children are going to read about his time in US politics in their history books. Writing is cathartic. I hope that your rant, which didn’t really seem like a rant, helped you to feel better. And to know that you will strike a chord with so many people, like you did with me. ❤ Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tarnishedsoul says:

    I feel like that a lot these days. On some level I find myself unable to relate to the world, especially when it comes to politics and society. And, of course, I find that I am not the same person I used to be either. Sometimes, a change of scenery, a change of activity or something outside the norm is needed to spark interest in life. And at other times, it’s a matter of trudging through the muck to get to the otherside. All I know is that everything is temporary and things will change.

    I have been a follower on your blog for a few months now and I am thankful to follow your lead in sobriety…You are doing an amazing job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I Quit Wineing says:

    I am glad that you are Journaling your experience. You will be able to look back over it in time to come and see the bigger picture. Alcohol is a depressant but for so long I used it as a tool to dampen sad feelings. Now those feelings feel more real than ever and I am not quite sure how to handle them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nursinggrudgesandliquor says:

    I cried myself to sleep on November 8 and as soon as I woke up the next day, literally pulled the covers over my head and sobbed like there had been a death. So much of it is just a generalized ugliness and uncertainty but as so many women before and after me, I was sexually assaulted as a teenager by a boy who believed he could do whatever he wanted. Of the whole churning ugly soup, that part sent me into some PTSD-like funk where I felt like not only did the boy who felt entitled to do whatever he wanted to me get away with it, he could have admitted it on tape and still been elected president. And I would still be powerless and humiliated. I have struggled with keeping this out of my public writing because I do not want to alienate anyone. But I share it here to say you are not alone. Also maybe because we have about the same sober time, we seem to hit similar things around the same time. I have been struggling to get excited and hopeful lately. I sometimes feel I got sober in time to witness the darkest times in 80 years. Like maybe THIS would be the time to be drunk and disengaged. But I suspect that if I was trying to make sense of this sloshed, I’d be digging a bomb shelter in my back yard half lit on merlot. And probably lose a toe to drunken shovel slinging.


    • okayishness blog says:

      I cried, too. I slept like shit. I was in a daze the next day.

      I, too, have been sexually assaulted and was so moved by the election results that I ended up sharing that information on a state of despair and disbelief when a friend remarked how glad he was that Trump won. It wasn’t how I wanted the conversation to start, but there it was.

      I think – I hope – that this despair and struggle will be worth more than we can know right now. I have to believe that, otherwise I might just go crazy. And while drinking it away would be easier, I feel much more prepared for the fights I need to fight as a sober person. Glad to have others like you here with me to be part of it, even as distant strangers over the internet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. MrsMac says:

    Well done reaching out. I find it is easy to see what other people need but very rarely do I follow my own advise. I hope writing this down and getting it out of your head has helped a bit. Remember it’s your blog and you can write anything you want x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. cluekush says:

    Hello. I am a little over three years sober. I just started this blog thing for the first time! This was the first blog I have read since. Thank you for sharing. I have similar stresses about the daily life we live in. I know telling someone who is feeling depressed that things will get better doesn’t fix the issue, because I hate when people tell me that. The only thing I can say that helps me move through that gloomy storm is “I won’t feel like this forever.”


  8. twicebornblog says:

    Yeah. Thanks. I can relate. I quit drinking 13 years ago, but that was because drinking was the most destructive (drugs were more sane). Crazy, but I continued drugs on and off. Including that big bad one that people are dying from. It’s been a week now and it really hurts. I had five years, but I always end up self medicating my depression. I don’t even have it in me to debate or consider politics, because well, no one really cares what you think and you’re not changing anyone’s opinion. I don’t really think it’s an existential issue you were dealing with, more like a WTF issue. If it were existential, I assure you, you’re questions would be more personal and really heavy. My thought is that it’s really cool that you’ve come this far not drinking, so be happy for you and let the world manage itself. It always has, perhaps not in the best ways… Holocaust, Ukrainian famine, genocide, but I don’t think either of us could have stopped those or what is coming for America. Thanks for sharing.


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