sobriety, getting sober

Definitely Gay: Attempting Sobriety During COVID

Sobriety During the Time of COVID-19

The onset of Covid-19 has turned everyone’s worlds upside down. It has affected all facets of our day to day lives, making nearly every aspect all the more difficult. Many are out of work, facing eviction, or wondering where their next meal is coming from. One thing that has been made even more arduous through all of this has been sobriety.

I began drinking regularly and heavily when I was 18, and basically haven’t stopped until recently. I am by no means an expert at staying sober and am still figuring out what my life looks like without alcohol. This is a particularly difficult time to resist turning to drugs and booze as we all face unprecedented stress. As I navigate what sobriety looks like in 2020, I hope that some of the things that have been helping me may help somebody else.

I have half-assedly tried to go sober in the past, my longest streak usually only lasting a handful of weeks. One of the first things I do is read. I have a few books that help put things in perspective. Ablutions by Patrick deWitt and Dry by Augusten Burroughs are a couple of my favorites. There is a line in Burrough’s memoir that constantly stays with me, and particularly resonates now:

sobriety, drunk

“Alcohol time is very different from sober time. Alcohol time is slippery whereas sober time is like cat hair. You just can’t get rid of it.”

An Abundance of Time

Time. There is just so fucking much of it. With many working from home if at all, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is finding ways to fill my day. Pre-Covid and pre-sobriety it was incredibly easy to lose a day or even an entire weekend to alcohol. We all have gone to those brunches that turn into an all-day affair. Though restaurants and bars may be closed, it would still be so simple to go to the liquor store and drown our sorrows in our drink of choice. For those choosing to be sober, this is not an option. What the fuck do sober people actually do?!

Sober Hobbies

It sounds lame, but hobbies. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend plenty of hours binging HBO and Netflix. For my own sanity though, I can’t spend all day watching television. I recently discovered a great site, Udemy. They offer online classes for nearly anything. I began taking a coding and web development class. I figured I should do something semi-productive while I’m stuck at home. Currently, my skill set does not go past that of a junior high school student making a GeoCities page in the late 90s, but it’s easy to lose a few hours trying to learn  Javascript. Udemy usually has some incredible deals as well. On a whim I also bought a piano class that was 90% off. I ordered a keyboard from Amazon, so that has also been something to keep me occupied. I have accepted I will never be able to play What’d I Say by Ray Charles, but I’m hoping by the end of lockdown I will be able to play something other than Chopsticks.

Endorphins and Sobriety

Working out has done wonders for me. I love running. The endorphins I get when I really hit my stride and The Chemical Brothers are blasting in my ears are unparalleled. The runner’s high is real, y’all. I know everyone has different fitness goals and varying levels of what they’re capable of, but just getting outside every day has made a big difference. Going on a long walk and listening to a good podcast has been really enjoyable as well. I love film and am partial to the A24 podcast at the moment, but there are tens of thousands to choose from. Even better than a podcast can be going on a walk with a friend. I think it’s important to still have those human connections throughout lockdown when possible. 

A Sobriety Support System

I’m still new to the whole sobriety thing, but I know that having a support system is crucial. It is a little easier now to resist going to happy hour with my drinking buddies because everything is closed, but it has been wonderful to have supportive people in my life. I’ve moved around a lot over the years, and have friends all over the country. It has been really nice to reconnect with people over FaceTime or have a phone call. Now that I’m not hungover every other day, I actually have the desire to reach out to people. It’s refreshing. And it’s awesome to actually remember what we talked about the next day.

As great as it is to have friends that support me, I must remain conscious of their own needs and not lean on them too much. Everyone has enough on their plate as it is. As I mentioned before, sobriety is new to me and I’m probably still riding that Pink Cloud (honeymoon phase, if you will). I know this is temporary and will go away, so I have done some preliminary research into AA. I was stunned at the resources available in my area. There are over 400 weekly AA meetings in Portland alone, and they are all online. All I did was google “AA meetings Portland.” Easy. I believe this is something I will definitely be utilizing later on down the road. As the weeks wear on, I know I’m probably going to need a sponsor that I can call when it’s 3 pm on a Tuesday and all I want to do is go pick up that bottle of Maker’s and drink to the point of comatose.

We’re all facing levels of isolation many of us have probably never experienced before. I miss drinking. I miss checking out. I miss getting so fucked up that my loneliness doesn’t even register anymore. But for me, drinking brings out all the horrible parts of myself that I just can’t bear to live with anymore. Whatever your reasons for sobriety may be, just know that you are not alone. There are so many people going through what you’re going through right now. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. You can do it. You are worth it. What’s that thing they say? Oh yeah. One day at a time.

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