Reflections on sobriety (7 months sober)

I keep trying to use this blog as one medium of putting my writing out there without feeling like I need to censor myself in the ways that academia seems to thrive on. So far, I have progressed to 20 drafts/prompts saved for future writing endeavors and this post! It’s a start?

If you’ve known me for a while, you might know that I’ve tried to quit drinking since I started at age 12. The first time I drank I got black-out drunk. Out of spite [because pre-teen angst about my parents separating], I decided I would have a glass of my mom’s Livingston Red Rose. I remember taking a glass of wine with me to my room. And then I had another, and then I had another, and then I had another. I don’t remember much else, other than crying on the stairs by myself. I vaguely remember pouring the rest of the gallon of wine down the sink. A few days later, my neighbor [a 13-year-old girl who I thought was so badass] convinced me to take my mom’s car to go drink beer and flirt (and/or have sex with) with boys. We did this probably two weeks straight; eventually we got caught and were placed on probation for joyriding. I have a vivid memory of standing on a windy road in Jonesborough, Tennessee after giving an older boy the keys to my mom’s Plymouth so that they could go get drugs. Sometime around then I drank Moonshine and snorted Xanax with my best friend. Not long after that I was raped by my sister’s 34-year-old former boyfriend. Luckily, I was able to live with my brother and his ex-wife from mid-8th grade through high school graduation.

Fourteen years later, I can confidently say that I feel supported by many people, and I sometimes feel some sense of stability. Even before I decided to stop drinking for good, many friends accompanied me to social gatherings at bars, knowing full well I would get overwhelmed in approximately ten minutes because either a) being around the smell of alcohol made me nauseous, b) someone would say something fucked up about trans people that made no damn sense and/or sexualize my body without my consent, c) I would feel uncomfortable without a drink in my hand, or d) I could go on but I’m going to stop here.

On my birthday (in November) two of my best queer friends who are in my PhD program convinced me to get out of my apartment instead of sticking to my plan of reading a sad book in my room alone (in the dark) while my former partner was in their bedroom ten feet away from me being mad at me killing a spider. They made me a cheese plate and everything. During the end of my Master’s I attended 3 or 4 ACA meetings, thanks to my dear friend in my Master’s cohort. I attended an AA meeting with a friend I met in a Master’s class. I also went to an NA meeting with a trans guy who previously lived with my former partner. I am increasingly limiting the time I spend around alcohol, and I am working on improving my life by ridding myself of unhealthy behaviors and relationships. When I say thank you to friends/etc that have supported me, I mean it. If you haven’t seen me a complete and utter drunken mess, I’m glad. I might not be alive without the many times people have intervened and cared for me. I don’t take that for granted, and I wish I could adequately articulate the feelings I have for everyone I hold dear. You are amazing, thank you. You are amazing, thank you.

Even with all this overwhelming support for my decision to stop drinking, I haven’t been able to shake the few bad encounters, especially those from trans&queer people in “the community.” Let us please continue to cultivate healthy spaces. If someone says they don’t want a drink, maybe ask if they’d like a hug instead of giving them a weird look. Maybe invite them for coffee or tea. Maybe you could even get to know each other better! The possibilities are endless, and I’m feeling optimistic.

Cheers,

J

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