being the sober one
Updated: Jan 28
I knew that getting (and staying) sober would benefit my life in many ways.
I was even prepared for sobriety to change my life.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the way my marriage would change. The way my sobriety would become a third party in my most important relationship, and I have been caught off guard by the unexpected emotions that have come with being “The Sober One” in our partnership.
My husband has cut down considerably on his consumption, naturally and effortlessly, now that his number one partner in crime doesn’t imbibe. He’s what we call a “normal drinker.” He’s been nothing but supportive of my decision. But he still drinks. Why wouldn’t he? He’s not the one with the problem.
I never expected him to quit drinking to support me. That didn’t seem fair to him. I was the one with the problem, I was the one who is unable to moderate. I was the one who seems to be able to take any soothing or pleasurable activity and turn it into an addiction. That’s my bag, not his. As I move further on my recovery path, I have to acknowledge that there are some difficult feelings I wasn’t expecting to experience in this new dynamic, of being The Sober One. Sometimes I feel sad and oddly, sort of guilty, that he got the “bait and switch”... that the fun, wild party girl he signed up no longer exists, and someone much more grown up has taken her place.
Sometimes I feel scared. Surely, he finds me boring now. Surely, I’m a drag of a wet blanket now.
He will be the first to tell you having an adult as a wife, instead of a reckless, irresponsible overgrown teenager is a great thing. And he’d be lying if he said we didn’t have some incredible fun on my way to imminent danger. I wonder if he misses her, I wonder if this new me is fun enough, wild enough, electric enough to keep his interest.
Sometimes I feel jealous, fucking jealous, that he still gets to change a feeling whenever he wants, with a bourbon or a cold beer. I am stuck just feeling.
I envy the fact that he doesn't have to ever exercise restraint and that it’s absolutely no big deal if he drinks. I envy the fact that he doesn’t even know what it feels like to have an addiction, or what it feels like to have to work so hard to heal from it and become someone new. Sometimes his life seems more carefree than mine, and the inner brat in me crosses her arms and whines “it’s not faaair...”
Sometimes it feels lonely to be the sober one. As if we used to live together, and now he lives on the other side of the street. We still see each other, but from a different angle, with a street between us. It doesn’t always feel like this, but when it does, it stings.
Being the sober one at events and parties where he and “everyone else” are drinking can feel isolating at times, depending on my state of mind, the event, the crowd, and other details. This is why I must take radical care of my spiritual condition. Sometimes this means I leave him at the party we went to together. I am learning to remove myself from situations that are too challenging and draining to navigate, and I don't want to interfere with his good time. My sobriety comes first. And sometimes, that's a drag. Maybe you think I am complaining. And maybe I am. But for goodness sake, can I admit for one minute here that being The Sober One sometimes sucks?
Saying that out loud feels edgy.
Aren’t I supposed to be an advocate of recovery and sobriety? Why would someone want to get sober, with this dreary picture I’ve painted?
Yet, it also feels cleansing, and honest, to share these things out loud. And what the world needs, what I need, is more honesty.
My sobriety has given me a new life, a new reality, a new way of being in the world. My sobriety has been my greatest friend and teacher, a spiritual path that I have no desire to turn back on.
I have my jealous moments, my lonely moments and my sad moments, and lots of other moments too.
They’re all part of this new life that I’m still learning how to live in. If I’d known all these factors would be part of my path, before I decided to put down the booze, I’d still have done it, because I had become powerless over alcohol, and my life had become unmanageable. I was out of ideas. My hopes in someday being a ‘normal drinker’ were finally smashed. I knew there was only one way off the roller coaster, and it was sobriety. What helps me the most is talking about it. Naming these challenges. Finding the courage to call out a shitty feeling. Saying to another sober friend “sometimes this is hard.”
Sometimes it’s hard. But it’s always worth it.