Sober is a crap word. I don’t like it. It sounds so… sobering. It’s not at all like my favorite word, ardor. That sounds so beautiful by comparison. But both are an essential part of my life. Interestingly, the crap word fuels the beautiful word.
For those like me with a checkered past of intoxication, sobering up is about as crap as a thing can be. The word sober reminds me of that.
Of course it doesn’t mean only that. Sober means free from addiction, which is far-freaking-out-fantastic for those like me who once suffered from it, once you get through the hard part, which is pretty much every day for the first three years or so and plenty of others days after that. But once you go climb back, you think differently. You see the results of sobriety. Sober becomes a cause for celebration. In just a couple of weeks I’ll hit my sixth year of sobriety. There’s nothing crap about that.
Sober also can mean thoughtful and deliberate, which those who know me best–and have been subjucated to my conversational quirks–would say I deliberate in bunches. I’ve been known to try out a dozen adjectives in a single conversational sentence just to make sure I get it right. That’s a sober way to talk (or maybe it’s a neurotic way to talk, but we won’t quibble with words right now).
So sober isn’t all bad. But I still think it’s a crap word. It just grates on my ear. I don’t wear it well even as I know it applies to me.
I’m trying to embrace it rather than fight it. I’m thinking more these days about “sober living” and what that entails. For me, it’s not all bad. In fact, for the lion’s share sober living has turned out to be damn fine.
A defining theme of this website is that sobriety expands life, not diminishes it. Life narrowed for me in my drinking days until it barely resembled a life. Sobriety expands it.
All those years of “fun” during my drinking days are sobering to think about now. The money wasted and loss, the time squandered, and the moral decay that resulted. I have so much more fun now living a clean life. I wake up cheery instead of hung over. I have energy long into the evening instead of being so stressed that night after night I’d do nothing but empty of bottles of wine into me. I pursue a wide scope of activities instead of one: drinking.
I still don’t love the word sober and all its seriousness. But I am sober and that, by the grace of God, remains an adjective of singular importance in my daily grind. Like the word or not, I am profoundly grateful it applies.