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What Do the Sober Folk Do?

What Do the Sober Folk Do?

What Do the Sober Folk Do?

 To help them escape when they’re blue?

In the old musical Camelot, Guinevere sings a little ditty about being sad. I can’t remember why she’s sad – something to do with cuckolding her husband and a war raging… Anyway, she is feeling blue, which is an unfamiliar sensation, and together with the king she warbles the heartfelt (yet condescending) question, “What do the simple folk do?” It is clear she doesn’t know how to handle the pedestrian feelings she’s feeling. Dance a fiery dance? Whistle for a spell?


“Simple folk,” or in my case sober folk, don’t have a panacea for sorrow or life’s difficulties. They just have to live them. After four years of sobriety, this fact is still a bitter pill for me to swallow. Figuratively speaking.



Not the best sober day…

Yesterday was not a great day for me. The internet was down in the office and my apartment after a big storm. My phone is doing something weird with my car – both of them smart as whips, but not speaking to each other at the moment. I felt distant from the world. On top of that, I had to make a personnel change at work. I think I have the reputation of being like Scrooge with the Muppets (“Our pens are turning to inkcicles…”), but there is nothing worse than dealing that kind of blow to another human being.


I found myself at a too-cool-for-school coffee shop on Lyon Street feeling weird. There is no other way to describe it. Just weird and disconnected and a bit annoyed, drinking a cup of coffee I didn’t want. My laptop was spitting out the news of the world, but I still didn’t feel a part of it all… It didn’t occur to me until this morning, that I was feeling:

1. Compassion


2. Separation


3. Inconvenience


Looking for the “simple” solution…

These were all reasonable sensations under the circumstances. It is clear I am still a bit rusty when it comes to dealing responsibly with the inevitable peccadillos of sober life. And why not? For twenty years I used alcohol to deaden my surprisingly sensitive nature. My beloved brother got leukemia and needed my bone morrow? Drink a liter of wine. My husband got fired? Run out for the biggest bottle of sweet and cheap I could find. Divorce? Wow – wine comes in screw caps – you can start drinking on the way home! Feeling socially anxious at the party? Queue up at the open bar!


I could go on. But the point, is that part of living this sober life is experiencing sorrow, discomfort and annoyance without using anything to deaden the feeling. There is no simple solution or someone I can pay to suffer on my behalf.


But, there is also great joy. And there is something to be said for accountability. I felt a bit ragged yesterday, but this morning when I woke up I felt fully responsible for my actions and okay with it all. The internet is working. The rain has stopped. And the fact is, in recovery, we do whistle or dance or hike or drink a cup of coffee when the going gets tough.


The momentary unease is a small price to pay for the simple, sober life.

The complicated sober life…



Today I’m not drinking because I have a lot on my plate to deal with and it’s not that simple…

How come you’re not drinking?


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Comments (7)

  1. Avatar
    Apr 12, 2017

    Very good reminder…just live it…. Like with all, one can get better at it with time and conscious practice of accepting all colors of life. Scary but empowering in the end!

    As always, very grateful for you pointing out this simple observation today 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Bill Carroll
    Apr 12, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    Marilyn, early in my corporate life, a mentor told me when discussing my having to make personnel changes and the ;angst that comes with it, his counsel was: ” If you ever get used to having to let people go, find another profession”. If I were prone to excessive drinking, reading your blog might prove to be a deterrent. The pain you’ve experienced is evident in each post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Avatar
    Tim S
    Apr 12, 2017

    I think possibly the hardest lesson to learn for those struggling with early sobriety, one that you’ve nailed in today’s post, is Just Don’t Drink No Matter What. Once drinking becomes not an option, one is on her way and can start learning how to recover from alcoholism—all the crazy shit that accompanied our alcohol dependence.

    In sobriety, I’ve experienced death (parents, friends, daughter’s partner), divorce (and traumatic breakups), financial worries, difficult social and work situations, etc. Just Don’t Drink No Matter What.

    When I was new, in my first couple of years, I had a “hold back”: if something should happen to one of my children, read “die,” that would be so horrible that it would be ok to drink. But then I heard 3 different women, one in her first year, share in AA meetings that they had lost children and hadn’t gotten drunk over it. Poof! Hold back gone. Just Don’t Drink No Matter What

    I was fortunate to have been able to get sober at Hazelden, in Center City, MN. During my first few days, after I had gotten out of Detox but within my first week, I developed a splitting headache, something I didn’t have a lot of experience with. I went to the nurses’ station and asked for some aspirin. To my surprise, the nurse said no, “if it’s still a problem in a few hours come back.” Of course the headache was gone soon but a few days later I asked the nurse what the heck her response was all about. She said that we alcoholics are accustomed to medicating any slight (or great) discomfort we might feel and they wanted to start me thinking differently. That was more than 30 years ago and I haven’t forgotten either the incident or the lesson.

    Just Don’t Drink No Matter What.

    Tim S

  4. Avatar
    Doug D
    Apr 12, 2017

    Wow! Once again you have spread some encouragement and inspiration. I am not yet to that point of strength and self, and still seek distraction, “anesthesia” or quick comfort. Short term with it detrimental cost, over accepting and working myself thru it by other means bringing long term improvement and benefits. Good if you have a true companion, that gets you , supports and encourages you unconditionally. Hope you do albeit sounds you are with good “self”. Bravo! …and thank you.

  5. Avatar
    Rose-Marie Jaeger
    Apr 13, 2017

    Once again, your blog strikes a chord. It’s amazing how much you feel when you’re not medicated. I feel like I am an overly sensitive person who should be medicating her hurt feelings, her stress, her fear. Let’s just pop out the old anti-depressants — which I also used along with the copious quantities of wine I drank. I am now 28 days sober. Your intelligent, perceptive musings open more windows into what it feels like to be a real, thinking, feeling person……….without alcohol. Thanks.

  6. Avatar
    kansas city rehabs
    Apr 22, 2017

    At Kansas City Rehabs, we don’t just believe in recovering individuals from addictions, we aim at empowering them, their family and the whole communities through holistic treatments and the promotion of a healthy, happy, and prosperous life.


  7. Avatar
    Recovery Blogger
    Mar 23, 2020

    Yes, Holistic treatment is so powerful. Here is a great article on why someone should choose holistic treatment: https://holistixtreatment.com/the-benefits-why-choose-a-holistic-drug-rehab-over-traditional-rehabilitation/

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