I started my journey of sobriety by entering the Alcoholics Anonymous process, I started going to meetings regularly, I got myself a sponsor and started working with her at her house on a regular basis. Then I went on holidays and didn’t get a chance to go to any AA meetings, came home and never re-entered the program. Recently I have stumbled across the Boozemusings blog and this blog has changed the way I have viewed Alcoholics Anonymous and the way I think about myself and my problems with drinking.
Until I got out of the realm of Alcoholics Anonymous I didn’t realise that some of the language in AA can be considered demeaning, labelling ourselves as alcoholics, saying that we have a disease and that we have a problem can be a way of putting ourselves down. However, instead of dwelling on having a disease, I am changing my outlook to be ‘I just want to live a sober life’.
You see, labelling myself as an alcoholic has all sorts of negative connotations, society in general doesn’t understand us, they label us and see us as a problem. Whereas if I say that I just want to live a sober lifestyle, that is seen in a much more positive and relatable light.
Now on a personal level, I know that I have a problem with drinking, I know that one drink is never enough, and I know that if I allow alcohol back into my life I will see certain aspects of my life (actually most aspects of my life) deteriorate. But also, by labelling myself as an alcoholic and sharing this with the broader community, I risk judgement, stereotyping and a perception that there is something wrong with me.
The one thing that I am grateful for in today’s climate, is that health and wellbeing are popular topics. It is fashionable to take care of ourselves, green smoothies are the rage, cleaning eating is hip and being healthy and fit is also fashionable. So I am lucky, because so many aspects of my life outside of my drinking are healthy, it is easy to stick with this narrative that I want a sober and healthy life.
Now I can’t totally knock Alcoholics Anonymous because in their early days, they were invaluable for me, I don’t know if I could have gotten through those first weeks of sobriety without meeting other people who have survived sobriety or were going through the same thing, this allowed me to relate to other people and not feel alone. But now, 6 months into my sobriety I feel different, I still need to relate to other people who want to have a sober life, but I don’t want to label myself as having a problem.
The world wide web has some incredible resources for those of us with a problem with drinking. I have recently stumbled across Booze Musings Boom Re-Think the Drink Community and this group is a wealth of support and resources to anyone who is thinking our relationship with alcohol. I would encourage anyone who is interested in exploring a sober life to explore the web, but on a personal note, I would steer clear of any community that is a ‘pay to play’ community. there are more than enough free resources out there, we don’t need coaching programs to help us when there are plenty of people, like you and me, who want to help each other.