I’m Sick of Sober

by Rebecca A. Watson on May 15, 2014

in definition, habits, perception, Recovery

Wait. I think I missed a word or two in there. Let me start again. I’m sick of the word sober. Yep. That’s really what I meant to write. Cheap trick? Maybe, but it got your attention didn’t it?

I’ve never really liked saying, “I’m sober.” Or that I “got sober.” Or talking about “my sobriety.” Don’t get me wrong. I clearly have no problem with talking about not drinking, as I’ve made clear on this blog and also in my personal life. This is more about semantics.

Maybe it’s the stigma of the alcoholic or AA or something, but the word “sober” has always elicited a scrunched-up nose face from me. It just seemed so lame, almost like an affliction all its own, much like alcoholism. I thought maybe I was alone in this until I started doing the penpal thing. Turns out I’m not the only one that isn’t into it.

“I’m sober today,” wrote one of my penpals, “although I just hate saying that. Not that I want to be out drinking or anything, but who wants to say they’re sober?”

Amen, sister! The connotations of the word aren’t lost on me. Hell, the denotation includes words like “serious,” “grave” and “subdued.” Does that sound like anyone you’d want to hang out with, much less become?

sober gavel

It doesn’t exactly scream party when you’re “sober as a judge.”

No wonder it’s hard for folks to divorce themselves from the idea of booze=fun when the alternative sounds so, well, boring, bland and unappetizing.

Words are powerful things. What we say affects how we feel and how the world around us operates. Awhile back I heard a Bubble Hour episode where a guy promoting sobriety among young people said they choose to say they’re in recovery, not sober, and they’ve received a lot more compassion.

So I decided I was going to start using the word “lucid” and the phrase “lucid living” instead. Well, not instead, but more often. I am a writer after all, and I’m not going to limit the tools I use.

But it makes a difference for me. If an aqaintance asks if I want a beer, I can say “No thanks, I want to be lucid tonight.” Or if I’m talking to someone and they’re curious about why I’m not drinking, I say, “I’ve just found that life is so much more beautiful for me when I’m lucid.”

What’s funny about this is that I remember when I learned the word. I was in college and drinking like most kids do then. Someone said something like, “You are definitely not lucid.”

The word stuck with me. I thought it was so beautiful. And it’s definition is full of words like “clear,” “luminous” and my personal favorite, “suffused with light.” I love that now it’s become a more active part of my vocabulary and my life.

So while I’m certainly not going eliminate “sober” from my vocabulary (that’d be a little extreme wouldn’t it?), I am going to try to use “lucid” more often. It just feels better for me and the life I want to live — one suffused with light.


(P.S. This is my hometown a few weeks ago. That loon call at the beginning is pretty haunting, is it not?)
How do you feel about the word “sober?” 

If you like this post and are interested in reading more, I suggest starting with my 100 day post, or just check out all my posts about not drinking and recovery

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

furtheron May 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I’m happy with it. I find many others words I don’t like in the recovery lexicon (mostly around AA I’ll admit) like God (that was a dumb move for a movement that makes such strenuous efforts to not be religious. Sponsor – it should be mentor, it isn’t the dictionary definition of sponsor neither is it what a sponsor was in AA in the early days any more. Recovered – because this is a life long condition.

So sober, sobriety I’m ok with they describe what I am and what I seek

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Rebecca A. Watson May 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

It’s interesting to hear the words you’re not too keen on. We all have things that rub us the wrong way or stuff that just doesn’t resonate. That is one great thing about AA: take what you works and leave the rest. Thanks for stopping by.

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Jen May 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I love this!!! I hate saying sober…it sounds so boring, and like my life is over. Really staying lucid is an awesome way to live!

Day 24 or maybe 25??? of lucidity.

Love,
Your penpal, Jen

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Rebecca A. Watson May 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

Yay for lucid living! Glad this resonated with you 🙂

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Maryn May 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Wow, I never realized this and you’re exactly right. Words have a huge impact on the way we think about ourselves and see the world around us.

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Rebecca A. Watson May 19, 2014 at 9:33 am

Glad the post resonated with you. That concept was first introduced to me by the book The Giver, I think it’s called. They wouldn’t use hyperbole at all (e.g. “I’m starving” instead of “I’m hungry”) because they respected the definitions so much. Thanks for stopping by girlie!

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Nameless Here May 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I personally don’t like many of the AA terms either. I am struggling, have been for years, with my threefold addiction of beer, smokes and tv at night. Since last Fall I started making more of an effort to get rid of this part of my life. I never made it past 12 days (Lucid). I am however seeing more clearly how this works. My emotions around it and what I am stuffing down.
I found that I can’t stand counting how many days “sober” I am and announcing it. It doesn’t work for me. That pressure to stay focused on not drinking. Then that awful feeling of failure and shame when it fails. Feeling like I have to start all over.
I love your view of this. I think “lucid” is perfectly wonderful. It is truly how one feels when getting the toxins out of the system. Waking up in the morning with actual thoughts that make sense. Positive feelings. Creative ideas. A sense of humour. Lucid.
Thanks for this. I can only hope I can get to your level of lucidity very soon. Before this addiction kills me.

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Rebecca A. Watson May 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Hello my dear. I think what you’re doing (the seeing how it works, your emotions around it, etc.) are a HUGE part of getting to accept the loss of booze in your life. And yeah, AA doesn’t work for everyone, particularly if you feel shamed by meetings/people. I have experienced good meetings where that doesn’t seem to happen, but it often goes the other way. Hang in there and keep trying. You’re doing the right things, reading sober blogs, reaching out, etc. Remember treats 🙂 And perhaps choosing a lucid state of mind will help too. You’re in my prayers!

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sica May 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm

I couldn’t agree more!

I think the stigma of the word “sober” is at times worse than the idea of being an “alcoholic” or having a “disease”. when I go to my meetings I refer to them as groups, and when I talk about aa get together and stuff, I often omit all together that they are sober events.
why? because it’s not weird that a whole bunch of adults have a barbecue, or what have you, and not poison themselves. what’s weird is that we make a big deal of it.
in one of my groups they make a big deal about the word sober, because sober is sad, sober is being a dry drunk, sober is just getting through and not living. recovery is the lucidity that you talk about.
I think that lucid is just a great word to describe how this not-using me is.

it’s a reminder to people that we’re not missing out on having fun, we’re just giving up on that one (pretty harmful) thing in favor of ACTUALLY experiencing our lives to the fullest.

living lucidly.

thanks rebecca!

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Rebecca A. Watson May 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Hey Sica! How awesome to read your comment on my blog 🙂 Yay for you stopping by! And yes! it is not weird for adults to have a BBQ together and not drink. I agree and also think it’s weird that people think drinking must accompany all activities. Glad this post resonated. Hugs to you!

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Colin May 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

When people ask me why I don’t drink, I simply say “Me and my old buddies Jack and Jim had a bit of a falling out”

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Rebecca A. Watson May 21, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Ha! Yeah, some friends are just toxic 😉

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Molly May 26, 2014 at 7:49 pm

In Britain, I believe they are using “alcohol free” as a term rather than sober.. I like that because it has the word FREE in it! That’s how I feel when I am sober, free of the obsession, free of the hangovers, free to be me.
xo

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Rebecca A. Watson May 26, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Ahhhh yes. I Love the freedom not drinking gives me. And yeah, I could say “I’m alcohol free,” I think, if I think of it in terms of how free I am now 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Molly.

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WalkSober May 30, 2014 at 4:08 am

Yes, yes, and more yes. Language is where it is. I physically tense up at “alcoholic” and “sober”. I am digging the “lucid” word. And, I agree that its definition is the way I want to live. So funny, because “sober” to me also rings of boring, anxious, lonely, heavy, withdrawn. And neither that term (nor “alcoholic” nor “diseased” nor “recovering”) matched what I am after on this journey of life without alcohol …. I am “after” life, and authenticity and communion, and compassion, and courage, and enthusiasm, and love …. and quiet (in my head and in my soul); oh, and I’m “after” fun and adventure and laughter.

Thank you for being suffused with light. If it’s ok, I’d like to borrow some. 🙂 Day 21 …. for the upteenth time ….

Peace.

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Rebecca A. Watson May 30, 2014 at 8:42 am

Congrats on day 21!! Yay you! That’s HUGE! You are more than welcome to borrow some light 🙂 Since you’re choosing to live lucidly, the longer you do it, the more light you’ll produce yourself! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Hugs to you!

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Ginger May 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Thx for the cyber hugs. Changing my screen name. Didn’t feel quite right anyhow, now I know why. So, I’ll just be me — traditional AND spicy, ginger. If I am living in the light, instead of the dark alley of “sobriety” and “recovery”, the light is not mine to hoard and hide. Light is meant to be shared. So, world, here I am, Day 22 (again … and again …. and again …. and, …..), sharing the light I have found this time around by being just me. Ginger, The Lucid.

Peace.

Elizabeth June 10, 2014 at 2:39 am

Hi, Rebecca,
Thanks for your thoughts. I came to this site obviously because I am sick of the lexicon, too.
I’m actually sick of hearing people’s problems and not being able to express myself well enough to get along(!). I know: the fault is mine. But bumping up against it all the time–I need a break! Not to drink. I just want some other kind of wisdom…one that doesn’t start with sobriety/not drinking–or end with it, either!

Al-Anon/AA changed my life–they gave me the permission to have a higher power and see how consciousness and awareness and responsibility are part of the higher path. I guess I’m trying to balance it without feeling down and broken and needing to be fixed…. Yes, language is important. Maybe I can go to meetings (or anywhere else I want to go) on my own terms and simply not care anymore what people think and give myself big breaks and hugs to be who and what I am, lucid, loving, flawed and all that is human! And allow others the same!

thanks again for your thoughts… on my path of light
🙂

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Rebecca A. Watson June 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Hey my dear, Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. I think AA is great too. It helped me a lot as well. And going to meetings isn’t a bad thing at all. Take what you want and leave the rest, right? But I hear you. Some of it is an old system I feel like. It still works but not everybody digs it. Kinda like record players. Yeah, they’re cool and some people adore the sound and everything, but iPods are awesome too. Hell, Spotify is pretty rad as well. It’s a different way of doing things. Analog to digital. Hugs, love and light to you Elizabeth!

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Blaze July 2, 2014 at 3:36 am

I love the concept of, “Lucid living”. I’ve been a non-drinker for 4+ months and am loving it for the most part. I love fooling with words myself and lucid is the best description of this new healthy lifestyle I’ve read so far.

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Rebecca A. Watson July 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Hey Blaze. Congrats on the 4+ months! Yeeehaw! Glad that lucid resonates with you. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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pfbsurf July 17, 2014 at 2:50 am

Hey – thanks for the inspiration. I googled “how I quit drinking and became awesome” and got to your blog. (Also a fan of Belle/100 day challenge) Great stuff.

Anyway, not that I/you am/are not already awesome, but the stigma around “becoming sober” seems to suck the coolness out of an incredibly amazing feat.

And I i’m going to be addicted to something, I’ll choose coolness.

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Rebecca A. Watson July 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

Thanks for dropping by 🙂 I’m glad you’re getting inspiration from me! Yay! I agree, let’s just be cool 😉

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Nikki C November 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm

10 months, 7 days lucid today! What a great word! Blessing and good fortune to all of you on your journey!

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Rebecca A. Watson November 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

Woooohoooo! Nicely done my dear 🙂 So glad for you. And thanks for your wonderful words 🙂

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kelly Tomblin February 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I don’t like the word “sober” because it sounds like sombre.
and I am definitely not that…..and the word is tricky.

I can have one drink and still be lucid.

So I life AF (alcohol free)…….I love freedom in all its forms…and it works for me and my mind that tries to bargain with me.

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Rebecca A. Watson February 20, 2015 at 12:10 pm

I like AF–if it works for you, I say go for it. We all have our own quirks, so finding what works, what resonates, is a big part of finding the solution 🙂

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Rebecca A. Watson May 31, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Traditional and spicy, ginger 🙂 ha! I love it! Keep shining your light girlie!

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