Uncle Eddie was an alcoholic. He would come to family celebrations drink a little, laugh a lot, drink more, do or say something stupid and then pass out in the easy chair in the corner. We were warned that we could turn out like poor Uncle Eddie. We went the rest of our lives trying to turn out better than that.
Before we embraced the sober lifestyle, we manufactured a marketing piece showcasing a life of glamour, achievement, excitement, beauty, and happiness- we presented as the optimal of success. Alcohol created the persona and pushed the pen to paper. We were Facebook-perfect. We spent our energy reinforcing an existence that didn’t exist. We created a mask of flawlessness and flaunted it for all to admire.
We have come to believe that most of the world lives behind a guarded veil of fantasy.
The phrase “to keep up with the Joneses” was popularized in the early 1900s by Arthur R "Pop" Momand's Keeping Up With the Joneses comic strip. The irony is that the fictitious neighbors are never actually seen in the strip. One could conclude they never existed. A world chased something that didn't exist.
Society, if we allow it, puts pressure on us to be more. To have more is the baseline to being better. The message that surrounds us is that those with the most, the best, are fulfilled. Massive amounts of marketing dollars are invested in telling a tale that alcohol is associated with both success and joy. That the Joneses have it and that we deserve it.
The Integration of alcohol as “the” social lubricant has become the societal norm. Is it just us, or has liquor now become the featured beverage at every single gathering? What we witnessed while growing up was that alcohol consumption was reserved for “special occasions” such as weddings and New Year’s Eve. Today, it is on call from baptisms to funerals – and for every occasion in between.
To break from the pull and stand in the confidence that the sober life delivers is like rowing a boat through mud - we seem to make progress but find that we have to exert a ton of energy. And though we sense a revolution starting, we still see the devastation still caused by this misguided messaging.
At the end of this day, we are left to fend for ourselves. We need to row through the mud of the messaging. We must paddle in confidence so that others step out of the murk and see the clear waters that sobriety represents.
For today, we no longer wear masks. Our existence is honest and real. The material has been replaced with meaning. Our currency is care, and our output is love. Our prized possessions are now the people in our path. Wellness has replaced wealth. We don’t look to the Joneses to compare, but with compassion, we forge.
We don't expect all of humanity to embrace the call for radical change. But, we hope that individuals working together will create a culture of inclusion that accepts those in recovery.
If the veil were pulled back, more of us would become visible. If honesty became the norm, the waters would become clear, and alcohol-free would be considered not only acceptable but admirable.
Utopia, for us, would be a civilization that celebrates sobriety as earnestly as it pushes consumption. In a perfect world, cultural change would begin in the boardrooms, where mission statements would promote abstinence as an alternative. It would include entertainment venues and liquor stores sponsoring sober choices. A global change of the idea that alcohol-based lubricant is the common thread among us will clean up the waterways for generations to come.
Normalizing sobriety is a responsibility we take seriously. Lives depend on it. People are struggling today, and people will struggle tomorrow. We can’t have baby Eddie grow up to be Uncle Eddie – the Drunk. Eddie deserves better. Society deserves better.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast titled “#137 "Normalizing Sobriety" with special Guest Jen Gilhoi”….The podcast dropped on 11/8/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.
A super-shout-out, and much thanks to sober.coffee guest Jen Gihoi. Jen has made it her mission to normalize sobriety. She has moved from peer support to mass-population positioning. Her organization, “zeroproofcollective”, is working with impactors around the world to blend alternative offerings and behaviors into social settings. Her TEDTALK, “Why We Should Rethink Drinking Culture” is helping change the narrative on what is considered acceptable. Again, we thank you, and baby Eddie thanks you.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.