That I got sober at 22, and that it stuck, is still a little surprising to me five years later. Most of my partying occurred on a liberal arts college campus tucked away in Connecticut, and when I tried to continue that radically permissive lifestyle six months after (barely) graduating, it failed beautifully. Sobriety didn’t happen in one fell swoop, but over those six months of slipping: cue demoralization, despondence, and despair. This is not meant to be a cautionary tale, but rather, an exploration of that first year: its confusing messiness and simultaneous clarity. I was mostly curious about what life would look like when I wasn’t hijacked by the pursuit of substances at each moment of every day. I see what I learned and what I’d do differently. My sober time (>5 years) now surpasses the number of years that I used (~4.5 years), and the longer I keep at it, the more I realize certain recovery slogans resonate, while others feel irrelevant and require a kind of precise unlearning. “Take what you like, and leave the rest,” is one of my favorites. Sober living isn’t easy, but it’s easier than the runaway train of using and its inevitable wreckage.
From Unmanageability To Sobriety
I woke up in Bellevue in July 2013 after yet another blackout episode, thinking I’d discreetly slip out of the hospital gown and vow to never, ever, end up in this scenario again. It was my fourth drinking-related ER visit in four years, and it felt like Groundhog Day. I’d rationalize each trip by saying I should’ve eaten more beforehand or hung out with the friends who would’ve put me […]