This time of year can be triggering for recovering alcoholics and others who have issues around alcohol consumption, and for those of my readers who are in recovery from/with alcoholism, &/or having complicated, contradictory, sensitive, and difficult feelings about booze, I want you to know that I’m thinking about you. When I was in the worst of my drunk-days (and not even just the worst, but the uncomfortable, the embarrassing, the ugly, and the lonely, too… Even the fun drunk-days…), I don’t know if anybody was thinking about me or wishing me well. I’m one of those alcoholics who didn’t have any sober friends to encourage me when I quit drinking, and didn’t have any drinking friends either because everybody had learned to stay away from me. So, I want to be for you something I couldn’t have – or be – for myself.
I’m 2,085 days sober today! I write the number in my planner everyday. The last time(s) I wrote in more depth about my sobriety was in Alcohol, I don’t want to drink you anymore, back when I had 159 days, and then again in To be true to my own weirdnesses, when I had 450 days. The first entry covers a bit of my drinking history, alcoholism in my family, multiple attempts to stay sober, and questions for readers; the second entry covers anxiety and loneliness, buying books about BPD as gifts to myself, wanting to drink but choosing not to, being a misfit among misfits, and embracing crazy. Although sobriety is not a topic I address beyond a few passing thoughts now and then, those blog entries get hits nearly every single day, and sobriety is something I think about a lot. A lot a lot a lot. Folks tend to be judgemental about folks who drink, and judgemental about folks who get sober, too. Those are really complicated topics for me to discuss, and I’ve got all kinds of conflicting feelings around booze, much of which I keep to myself.
But today I felt like tweeting to strangers and pals and friends on the internet to let them know that if they were going through tough times (or magical times! or both & then some!) with alcohol and recovery, I had them in my psyche with me and wanted to make a little portal to be with them for just a moment. I wondered (hoped) that those tweets and these messages would arrive on somebody’s screen at just the right moment.
[image description: Maranda Elizabeth’s feet in the snow, with their lavender cane by their side. The snow is fresh and bright and sprinkled around their boots and the tip of their cane. They’re wearing a bright purple coat, black boots, a grey and black vertically-striped skirt, purple tights, and grey socks.]
If you’re sober, I’m thinking of you. If you’ve been sober for 10 days or 10 years, I’m thinking of you. If you’re struggling, I’m thinking of you. If you’re not struggling at all, if you’re feeling totally delighted and excited about sobriety, I’m thinking of you. If you’re drinking, whether or not you wanna quit, I’m thinking of you. If you, like me, sometimes wish you could hide all mentions and photos of alcohol from your social media feeds and inboxes, I’m thinking of you. If you’re sober and wish you could have just one drink, or wish you could drink yourself into oblivion, I’m thinking of you. If you’re drunk and wish you could stop at just one drink, I’m thinking of you. If you’re drunk and wanna drink yourself into oblivion, I’m thinking of you. If you’re sober and never ever wanna drink again, I’m thinking of you.
[image description: The ends of burning tallow candles that Maranda burned on the Winter Solstice – one is green and one is yellow. There are various crystals around the candles including amethyst, honey calcite, citrine, black tourmaline, rose quartz, and found rocks. There is also a tiny pretend typewriter.]
If you get triggered on New Year’s Eve, I’m thinking of you. If you get triggered on the Summer Solstice or the Winter Solstice, I’m thinking of you. If you’re wearing amethyst for sobriety, I’m thinking of you. If you dream of drinking non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks from amethyst goblets, I’m thinking of you. If you’re in line at the liquor store and you wanna smash all the bottles and run away, I’m thinking of you. If you’re wandering the aisles of the liquor store and you wanna steal everything and run away, I’m thinking of you.
If you’re pre-pre-drinking alone before pre-drinking with your pals before public-drinking before post-drinking at home alone, I’m thinking of you. If you’re at home snuggling with your cat(s) and staying sober – or feeling tipsy, or getting drunk – I’m thinking of you. If you’re having complicated and conflicting feelings about your alcoholic parents, I’m thinking of you. If you’re contemplating drinking/not-drinking or can’t figure out the differences between your drinking habits and your mental illnesses and your madness, I’m thinking of you. If you’re contemplating sobriety I’m thinking of you. If you’re blacking out because you’re mixing alcohol and psych meds again, I am very much thinking of you.
[image description: A pink chime candle burning behind a large rock of amethyst. There is more amethyst in the background, as well as a yellow tallow candle in a golden candleholder, and a green Saint Martha prayer candle with her image on the glass. Saint Martha is the Patron Saint of homemakers and homeowners, servants, maids, house- and inn-keepers, travelers, single laywomen, etc…]
If you’re at home alone blogging about sobriety, I’m thinking of you. If thinking about others thinking about alcohol and sobriety makes you feel less lonely – or closer to the good kind of lonely – I’m thinking of you. If you’re burning candles for your pals who are drinking and your pals who are sober, I’m thinking of you, and I’m burning candles for you, too.
[image description: Maranda Elizabeth’s left hand holds onto a book with a lavender cover and floral illustration. The book is called Out From Under: Sober Dykes & Our Friends edited by Jean Swallow. Their nails are shiny purple, and there’s a Hello Kitty keychain and some scrap paper in the background.]
Although I’m mostly housebound during Winter (and am getting pretty okay with it, to be honest, even cultivating the Joy of Missing Out), a few days ago I ventured out to wander along Bloor West to see if there were any holiday sales at the used bookstores. To my surprise and delight, yes, there were! One of my lucky finds was a book called Out From Under: Sober Dykes & Our Friends edited by Jean Swallow. Without my cripple-body, I might not have seen it, as it was on the lowest bookshelf in a dark, crooked corner, a spot where I like to give my sore bones a rest. It was published by Spinsters, Ink in 1983, and I knew the moment I pulled it out from the shelf, curious about what was beyond the simple spine, it would become a part of my own (forever-in-process-of-finding) queer, sober, mad lineage.
The back of the book reads:
Out From Under is a road-map, a sharing, and a song. It details recovery from substance abuse in a way never before collected or published. From personal and professional perspectives, this anthology looks at many aspects of recovery: relationships, sexuality, ethnic culture, physiology; and includes the recovery experiences of lesbian co-alcoholics and adult children of alcoholics, as well as lesbians who were chemically dependent.
“This book is about recovery. This is a book about how we live after that cold day in hell when we finally said, that’s enough, that’s enough, oh my god, that’s enough.
It’s a book about how we go on living. These aren’t stories about how it was, because I think there is already enough of that… No, this is not about drinking. And it’s not about dying. This is a book about living and recovery. It is about how we do that and what happens when we try…
Recovery from substance abuse is about recovering memory and reality and vision. It is about recovering the balance we always should have been able to have. It is about discovering emotions. And then what you do with those emotions once you know what they are. In some sense, recovery isn’t just getting something back so much as it is beginnings; it is about learning how to grow up. It is about learning how to love each other and ourselves. Recovery is about making community, and so is this book.”
– from the Introduction
It heartens me to see that queers were writing about sobriety and recovery before I was born, and it feels like magic to be able to hold it in my hands. Many queer and trans folks struggle with alcohol and other substances, and we very rarely have possibility models or tangible texts to help us out. Many of us grew up with parents who abused us when they drank, or parents who disappeared when they drank. Many of us grew up needing to drink to be social, to be okay, to want to live for a few more hours. I haven’t read this book yet, but I plan on spending some time with it this evening while I do my New Year’s rituals of reading my cards, journaling, imagining resolutions and changes, and thinking about how much has changed in the last year – how much I survived, and what I feel capable of now.
If you’re reading this after your celebrations, if you’re hungover, if you’re sick, if you’re housebound, if you’re alone, if you’re in somebody else’s bed, if you’re trying to remember everybody you need to apologize to &/or everybody you need to thank, if you’re waking up feeling strangely calm and refreshed, if you’re waking up anxious and sad, if you’ve got the coffee-jitters, I am very much thinking of you!
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!