Since the beginning of my sobriety, I have had to answer numerous questions about it, including, Why? Did you have a problem? What made you quit? So like, you’re NEVER going to drink again? Most of the time, it’s easier for me to just order a water and ask for a lime so no onlooker is distracted by my choice to be sober. Many people act like it’s the end of the world because I’m not drinking, but my world is far from over because of my choice to not drink.
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I’ll never forget the first time someone apologized for my sobriety. The scene played out like this: A stranger at a bar approaches me and comments on my water, “They serve better drinks than that here. You should try one.” Turning to said stranger, I laugh and respond with, “I never learned the whole moderation thing, so I stick with liquids that don’t make me act so reckless.” Stranger proceeds to point out the obvious, “Oh, so you’re sober? I’m sorry to hear that!” I immediately felt compelled to explain why they should never apologize for that.
My decision to get sober was not something to be sorry about because it meant that I finally admitted that I had a problem. My sobriety has allowed me to create a life I never used to see going anywhere because I was always so concerned with my next opportunity to black out, or get high. I always dreamed of something more, but I never truly believed in those dreams until I found a reason to actually live. Sobriety has provided me with a type of freedom that I never had when my vices were in control, and it’s given me a completely different outlook on the world that isn’t so dark anymore. If it weren’t for sobriety, who knows where I’d be today, and given how my drinking ended, I doubt I would even be anywhere worth mentioning.
I still react the same way when people think apologizing for my sobriety is the correct thing to do. I’m not rude to them, nor am I harsh in the words I choose to respond with. I’m matter-of-fact and to the point, because I think it’s important for them to know that this is the LAST thing they should be apologizing for. As someone who has worked hard to say “no” to what I never used to be able to say “no” to, I will gladly choose to stand up for myself when someone feels the need to apologize for my sobriety.
For those of us who are in recovery, it’s hard enough to muster up enough courage to put ourselves in scenarios where heavy drinking is involved. It’s not something I’m able to do every weekend, as it takes a lot out of me, emotionally. My anxiety is a lot louder in these situations because I’m no longer using alcohol or drugs to distract myself from it, and sometimes I resort to the bathroom so I can take a break from all the people. I still enjoy going out for the social aspect of it, but you will no longer see me at closing time trying to convince myself that I don’t need “one more.”
I’ve come a long way in my journey of recovery, but this journey doesn’t end. I’ll continue getting better at saying “no,” and I’ll continue to let others know that they should not apologize for my sobriety if they feel the need to. My choice to want better for myself has nothing to do with anyone else. My choice to be sober is nothing to be sorry about, and everything to be grateful for.