I’m So Sorry For Being Sober…Not!

A recent topic of conversation on Soberistas.com has been about the embarrassment that some people feel regarding ‘coming out’ as a teetotaller, and it’s something that I have been thinking about over the last few days as a result. We live in a society that is heavily weighted in favour of alcohol as our preferred drug of choice, but also one that shuns those who are not ‘able to handle it.’ Those referred to as ‘alcoholics’ are often pitied, excluded and frowned upon for their apparent weakness and inherent inability to just have a drink with the rest of us and not cause trouble, for themselves or for us.

It is similar for those who are overweight; we as a society tend to consider them at fault for not being able to just put the lid on the biscuit tin. It is fine for ‘us’ to indulge in pizzas and cakes, chips and pasties because we know where to draw the line, but for those who continue to gorge themselves and who are subsequently obese, well, they have no one to blame but themselves. IMG_0271

Jason Vale, in his book ‘Kick the Drink…Easily!’ (of which everyone at Soberistas is now very familiar!), makes the point that other drinkers are the drinks industry’s best advertisers. Even a drinker who is on a short sabbatical due to antibiotics or pregnancy gets it in the ear as to why they are turning down an alcoholic beverage – ‘Oh you poor thing, never mind – only nine months and then we can go out and get hammered again,’ or ‘Oh no, how long have you got to take them for? Ooh, two weeks without a beer – nightmare!’

Why? Why has it become so abhorrent to society in general that some of us may choose to live our lives fully present? Is it so ridiculous that to some, their weekend may not revolve around stupidity, embarrassment, falling over, hangovers and a multitude of regrettable incidents?

I remember how I viewed those who abstained from booze when I was a drinker. Killjoys, frumpy, boring, party poopers; I would not have wanted to spend my time at a party or in the pub with a teetotaller, simply because their presence would have highlighted my weakness, my addiction. I gravitated towards those who were equally happy getting sloshed and whose idea of fun was staggering around and talking rubbish.

Perhaps it is the case that for heavy drinkers who are out to get pissed, teetotallers are their idea of the party guest from hell. But would we, as teetotallers, want to endure their company anyway? Listening to a boring, self-interested drunken idiot is my idea of hell – drunk people do not make good company to those who are with it enough to notice what they are talking about, and drunk people love being with other drunk people simply because it helps them to justify their own excessive drinking. And, of course, they are on the same wavelength; that is a very short, immature and inane one.

It is perhaps unrealistic to imagine that people who are stone cold sober and those who are absolutely out of it can get along together and have a merry old time. But then again, who would want to hang out with a heroin addict who had just shot up a load of top whack smack? But there are plenty of people who drink alcohol who do not get completely off their heads and I do think for them, it is inconsequential whether or not the person they are talking to is sober or not. And given the choice of the version of me drunk or sober, I know which one I would prefer to talk to (and it wouldn’t be the one who was slurring her words, wobbling about and flirting outrageously with every bloke in the room).

For every person who is brave enough to pour away their last bottle of wine and come to the healthy and happy choice to be sober, one more step is taken towards making teetotal living more normal, more acceptable; for every person who is strong enough to take a sober stand in this alcohol-fuelled society that we inhabit, we are building a viable alternative to the standard idea of ‘a good time.’ One day, in the not-too-distant future, I hope that it will be considered rather odd to head off to the pub on a Saturday night, spend a ton of money on a liquid that will annihilate your short-term memory, act in ways that you would never act when sober, and then as a result, waste your entire Sunday in bed with a hangover.

9 thoughts on “I’m So Sorry For Being Sober…Not!

    • Thanks for your comment – I can’t believe some of the things I used to do when I was drunk. I wouldn’t act anything like I used to act now that I am sober, but in the midst of all that booze I honestly thought that was who I was. Just shows you how powerful it is…thanks again, Lucy x

  1. RC says:

    While I completely understand the sentiment here, this feels unusually judgmental and angry. I recognize how hurtful it can be to feel left out and judged by drinkers, but this attitude is problematic. Drinkers feel judged too, as you point out, and if this sort of language is churning in the teetotaler’s head, it is pretty obvious why they do. There is a way to not drink and still recognize that it is a choice, maybe an obvious one for some of us, and let people find their own way, honoring that their path and process may be different from yours.

    • Hi – thanks for your comment. I write from a sober person’s point of view, and I hope that what I write helps those who have/are struggling with a drink problem. I don’t suppose for a minute that what I write is ‘churning in the teetotaller’s head’ as you state, merely that this is how I feel, and how I think some of the members of Soberistas.com might feel when taking the very hard (for some) decision to give up alcohol. For some people, not drinking is very difficult to maintain, for others it is easy – I am simply writing down my feelings on it.
      But thanks, great to hear your opinion too. (NB. I am not judgmental or angry at all; far from it – I love my sober life!)

      • RC says:

        Thanks for your reply! I want to clarify that I am actually a frequent reader, and don’t find the tone on the site to be judgmental at all. It is actually quite refreshing. I know this exact sentiment, as I feel it myself, but simply because I felt drinking kept me in an “immature and inane” place doesn’t mean I want that to be something I project onto others. It wasn’t an admonishment – just an observation, and it it doesn’t resonate, perhaps I was reading in a tone that wasn’t there. Thanks for your gift of this forum!

  2. merelyshadows says:

    I wish sometimes people would be willing to have a good ole’ tea party and not feel the need to bring beer. Ah well. I guess I should be hanging out with six year olds.

  3. Traveller says:

    Thank you for a great article. I never drank regularly. Never saw my parents drink. But I was totally wasted the first time I tested alcohol at 16 years old. It has been occasional drinking since then. But when drinking I usually write history. I had many warnings and probably more second chances than anyone deserves. From I was 25 I had periods with years of no alcohol at all but I usually came back to social drinking (i.e. more to the history books). If I took the warnings more serious I could have spared myself for some unwanted experiences that came while drinking. It took a real blow to the face before I suddenly realized that the incidents from drinking was related to…yes, you guessed it…to DRINKING! So I decided for no more hangovers, post-drinking anxiety or incidents that could have ruined my future happiness. Now the reason to not drink is because of all the other benefits you get when there is no poison in your blood, but I think there are many non-alcoholics or non-abusers out there who experience unwanted situations when they drink and therefore should stop drinking just because of that. I have at least realized that alcohol never brought something positive into my life and this makes it an easy choice whenever I get drawn to become socially accepted again.. And just for the record, I have not had so much fun since childhood as when I went out with a group of only non-drinkers. Best evening in a long time and totally free from hangover. I am 40 and successful in life.

    • Hi thanks for getting in touch – sounds like you and booze definitely do not get along! I’m really pleased that you are having a good time without alcohol – it’s a myth that you need to be drunk to enjoy yourself; speaking personally, the only effect that alcohol ever had on me was to turn me into a loud, overbearing pain in the arse, and I am most definitely a better person without it! Thanks again, Lucy x

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