Thanksgiving is a special time but for me, it marks another year of sobriety. I now have eight years of continued sobriety. During those years, I have experienced the same disappointments and achievements in life as I always have but the difference is that I was able to handle life on life’s terms– just using my instincts, some common sense and I hope, good judgment. It’s been a tough yet wonderfully liberating experience.
One thing that I found a bit of challenge is dealing with friends and family regarding sobriety. For one thing, my 80 year-old mother has no clue about my using past. She and I live over 3,000 miles apart, each in separate countries. I am grateful that she did not witness nor was affected by my behavior during that dark period of my life. I decided telling her would just confuse and hurt her.
Then, I have my older passive/aggressive sister who tells me that I’m not an addict anymore and I should stop calling myself one. She doesn’t understand the concept of being in recovery. As far as she’s concerned, I quit and I’ve recovered. It somehow embarrasses her that I refer to myself as a recovering addict. Now, I’ve learned not to refer to my recovery around her, it’s not worth the aggravation.
Now when it comes to new acquaintances in social situations where alcohol is involved, it can be a little more difficult. There are people out there who are simply distrustful of non-drinkers or find it weird when people don’t imbibe. Some people are just uncomfortable around clean and sober people period. They may view us as holier than thou and that we think we are more virtuous or maybe they think we are judging their drinking. In my early years of my sobriety, I would make up excuses when asked why I was not drinking. My favorite was “I’m on medication” but then I would always would feel ashamed of myself for this little white lie. After all, there is no shame in sobriety. It’s really a lifestyle choice.
Today, I just explain that I’ve chosen a life of sobriety and it works for me. Most people will just accept and respect that choice but others may comment in one derogatory way or another, like “no drinking…no smoking..no drugs? I could never do it ..I like it way too much.” I just reply, “You know, that’s what I thought at first; but now, no feeling is as euphoric to me as sobriety.” This retort may come across as high and mighty but I stopped caring about what others think a long time ago.
Happy Clean & Sober Thanksgiving.