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?