WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON HERE?

Noun

sobriety

  1. The quality or state of being sober.

  2. The quality or state of not being intoxicated.

  3. The quality or state of being grave or earnestly thoughtful.

  4. The state or quality of being unhurried; a state of calm.*

  5. A state of moderation or seriousness.

  6. Modesty in color or style.

  7. Soundness of judgement.

*emphasis mine

Sometimes you think you know what a word means, and then you take a closer look and it can still surprise you. Like that word up above, for instance. I know what it means. And, being a word obsessed person, I was curious about its origin. I wanted to go deeper. And I was indeed surprised.

It’s heartening to read that close definition and have it reflect precisely what I know to be true about sobriety, namely, that it is so much more than not drinking. I look at that definition and it reads like psychological bucket list, so many qualities I strive to embody: Thoughtful. Calm. Earnest. Sound. So many words that reflect the opposite of how my inner life has felt for as long as I can remember.

You see, I’ve been rereading these old journals. Nine-and-a-half years worth of the ins and outs of my daily life. Most of it is boring (SO boring): to-do lists, trouble with roommates, or co-workers—so much everyday mundane life stuff. Then there’s this whole other part I wasn’t expecting.

Linking it all, a thread: a constant thrum of dissatisfaction, of discontent. Page after page, obsessing about what came next, wanting my life to hurry up and get somewhere, wanting to be anywhere but where I was. The thrum is frenetic, restless. Urgent. Again: it’s difficult to read. As I flip my way through forty journals it is hitting me so hard, these first few weeks of another new year, that if I don’t consciously work to change this now, I will spend the rest of my life, well, missing my actual life.

I don’t want to spend however much time I have left here wishing I was somewhere else.

Drinking was this thing that took me away from my life. I could feel the dissatisfaction, the malaise, and I would have a drink or two, and it would go away. I would go away. Now that I don’t do that anymore, now that there’s nowhere to go, I have to stay. And in the staying I am finally learning how to be all those things in that definition.

The state or quality of being unhurried; a state of calm. More than anything, this is how I want to experience life. Nowhere is the word “happy” mentioned. I know better, now. Happy doesn’t last. Sad don’t either. But calm? I want to be calm. Unhurried? The idea of being free from the gnawing inner urgency makes me want to cry.

So, here I am, without my own clearly defined definition. I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m doing here. Slow Motion Sober is a place where I’m going to practice, grow into, be curious about, you know, changing my life. Because it’s more than just not drinking. It’s a going deeper, beyond. It’s staying. It’s questioning my looping beliefs and thought patterns, instead of numbing or running. It’s about slowing the fuck down, releasing the pressure valve on all these self imposed, ultimately arbitrary timelines to which I’ve been programmed to adhere. I’m making my own timeline, dammit, and it will be perfect.

I will eventually get around to posting some resources. I am hoping this can become a little hub for sober/sobercurious folks in and around the Bay, so we can find each other, maybe meet IRL. I’m not selling anything (yet?). I’m more creative than science minded so my words will probably more often trace that vein, rather than, like, hard data and evidence (though I promise that any data/science I do share will absolutely be evidence based). I never thought I’d be the type of person for whom all those qualities listed up top would be aspirational. I thought I wanted passion, excitement, a big, wild life—and I still do. It’s just going to look different than I imagined. Raging hard never did anything but burn me out. I’ll take the steady glowing embers of a long burning fire over the flash and pop of fireworks any day.

Sitting in my cozy bedroom on a gloomy Friday night, listening to the rain against my windows compete with the sound of Billie Holiday’s voice on the speaker, I write. The inner thrum is quiet, for now.