5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Sobriety When I Was Still Drinking 
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5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Sobriety When I Was Still Drinking 


5 things I wish I'd known about sobriety

This post was originally published on November 27, 2014.

When I was drinking, I had so many misconceptions about what was wrong with me—and also about sobriety. I don’t regret how and when I got sober but looking back, I do know that if I’d had the right information, it might have been less of a struggle. Here are 5 things I wish I had known.

1) That I wasn’t a complete weak, idiotic loser

I wish I’d known I was an alcoholic, and also what “alcoholic” meant. I truly felt like a piece of shit because of my drinking, even though I didn’t actually know it was because of my drinking. And when I finally became aware that it was a problem, I really didn’t know how to stop it. It felt like the bad choices I was making were because I had a defect or was possessed by a demon or something. I couldn’t comprehend why. I just wish I’d known that I had a fucked up mental illness that could be treated, an illness that is mental, physical and spiritual and needs to be taken care of. I couldn’t think my way out of alcoholism; I had to ask for help, throw away my old ideas and take direction from happy, sober people.

2) That the 12 steps aren’t part of some religious cult

I thought if I did the steps, I would have to believe in Jesus Christ, and I wouldn’t be allowed to say fuck and shit and so I was like, Fuck that shit. I wish I’d known that if I studied the steps, and tried them out, that they would work and a lot of my fears and resentments would be lifted. My judgment about the 12 steps kept me away from the program for years, which was ridiculous because how would I know if they would work if I’d never tried them? It was as if I fancied myself a weird fortune teller who made ridiculous assumptions about things I had little or no information about. In retrospect, this was as ridiculous as looking at a book written in Japanese and being like, “Oh yeah, I know what this book is about. It’s about Japan!” I just wish I could have been more open-minded about the program at an earlier age.

3) That if I got sober, my confidence and creativity would come back

Fear of being the person I was without booze kept me drinking for many, many years. I thought the only way I could be fun at a party is if I drank and that the only way I could come up with ideas was if I drank. Early in sobriety, I realized I was way more confident than I had been—in a cozy way. Not sure if that makes sense, but I felt really comfortable at parties and bars and it was such a relief to not have to spend $20 on drinks to make me feel okay. And drunk confidence is the most ridiculous confidence ever: “I’ve had seven drinks, now I’m so confident I’m going to make decisions that will make me hate myself in the morning, which will in turn lead to less confidence!”

4) That most people wouldn’t care if I got sober and/or they would be supportive

I used to worry so much about what people would think of me if I drank soda at a party. Or declined a drink. The truth is, no one gives a shit! And if they do care, if they’re the type of idiot who says things like, “What? Come on! Just have one drink!” Which is to say they they probably just want people to get drunk so they don’t feel so alone in their drinking. But what was shocking to me is that most people don’t care what is in your cup. People at parties are worrying about themselves and not about what you’re drinking. Also, a lot of people who do realize I don’t drink are very cool about it.

5) About the many tiny joys that sobriety offers

One of my favorite things about being sober is the genuine joy I feel in little situations. I guess this is gratitude. I love waking up in the morning and writing and drinking coffee. I love blueberries. I love talking to my niece. I love re-watching classic movies. I love my friends. I love the way I feel after talking to another recovering alcoholic. All these things make me feel just as good as a few drinks did. And I guess part of it is getting to a point to where I don’t need something huge and exciting and over the top to happen to me to make me feel good. When my alcoholism is in check, and I’m doing the work in sobriety, I swear to God or to the Universal Spirit or to a plant or to whatever is I believe in on that day, I feel like I just did a few rails of coke—and it was for free and I don’t have a hangover or some gross dude in my bed!

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About Author

Amber Tozer is a stand up comic, writer and actor. She loves being sober even when she hates it. Her memoir, Sober Stick Figure, was published in 2016 by Running Press.