Today was the second Soberistas meet-up and it was, again, an amazing experience to spend time with so many fantastic and brave people who really do feel like old friends. Thank you to Linda, Binki and Nicky for their brilliant organizational skills and the lovely goody bags we all received, and to Katey for the beautiful orange bracelets she made for those who attended. Thanks also to Andrew Langford, CEO of the British Liver Trust, for travelling all the way up to York from London to share with us his great expertise, and to Sarah Turner, my brilliant co-author of the Sober Revolution, for her inspirational speech about women empowering themselves in the fight against booze.
Below is a little extract from my own speech for those who couldn’t make it today (and a photo of the goody bag with bracelet!).
I was thinking about how to summarise what Soberistas means to me and the two words that sprang to mind were HOPE and SOLIDARITY.
Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life, or in the world at large. Hope is what keeps us forging on in life when everything seems black. When we lose hope, we are left with despair.
Hope is what makes it worthwhile fighting the fight, even when it seems we are getting nowhere fast.
Hope is why we put ourselves through hell during the initial weeks and months of sobriety, because we believe things will eventually get easier.
Solidarity means a community of feelings, purposes, of responsibilities and interests. Solidarity is blessed relief, of knowing that you aren’t alone no matter what madness you are experiencing; that someone is on your side during the darkest moments.
Solidarity allows us to win a battle which, if fought alone we would more than likely lose. Solidarity allows us to find laughter amidst the depths of despair, and helps us rediscover hope when we think we might have lost it forever.
Soberistas was to me, right from its inception, about hope and solidarity. My main goal when creating the website was to ensure that whoever joined this community would instantly recognise that the problem we here today have all known, is not only theirs. The fact that there are now almost 25,000 Soberistas (who have joined in the 15 and a half months since we first launched) is evidence of how very common this problem is, and is an incredible example of the power of solidarity.
Life is great without booze, if you are a person who cannot drink safely. The terrible consequences of excessive alcohol consumption should be reason enough to kick it out of our life for good, but somehow it’s not always that easy…
But on Soberistas we can share our concerns about how to cope with a social event minus the wine prop, reassure each other that we are not terrible people for having developed a damaging dependency on a widely-marketed and addictive substance that virtually everyone in Western society consumes regularly and without concern.
We can advise on what alternatives to drink, how to beat cravings, how to spend our free evenings. We can laugh together about the stupid things we have done when drunk, in a way that someone who has never suffered the pain of dependency would ever be able to do.
And because we read about the success stories on Soberistas each day – three months AF, six months AF, and now people who are celebrating their first year AF – largely as a result of the support and wisdom they’ve found on Soberistas, it provides us all with hope that a happy and healthy AF life is possible.