Justifying My Sobriety - Page 2

By Randi Newton 11/13/12

Trying to talk to friends—even close ones—about my addiction and recovery has proven one thing: a lot of people out there just don’t get it.

None for me, thanks Photo via

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This was a surprise. Eric and I remained silent. The way she said it made it seem like she was expecting me to jump into the conversation and agree with her. For the 15 years I've known her, we've agreed on a lot of the same things. But not this time.

"No, I can't,” I said. “I cannot just have one glass of wine or a drink and be fine with it. Alcoholism doesn’t work that way. You can’t just have one drink. You just can’t.” 

I could tell that she was frustrated and almost upset that I wasn't siding with her. 

But I was, too: I had assumed that she knew I had struggled with getting sober. 

Then something else occurred to me: a few years earlier, she’d entered an inpatient program for opiates. She had never gotten into the details about her experience, other than to mention how bad the food was at the facility and how awful their bedding was. She summarized the experience as a time at “ghetto summer camp,” always speaking about it lightly. She’s now she’s on benzodiazepines, having essentially replaced one drug with another. And I realized that’s perhaps why she felt I could have “just that one” drink: it helped to justify the path she took.

"All I'm just saying is that I really think you could have a drink, just one, and be fine,” she said.

At a certain point, Eric excused himself to walk the dog and I naively continued to plead my case with my friend, trying to tell her how much my life had improved since I had gotten sober. “Look at my life now,” I said. “I think we can both say I’m 200% happier than I was when I was drinking. I’m living again. I have a healthy relationship. I’m responsible. I’m doing things that I was never able to do when I was drinking. I think I’ve changed a lot. Am I the only one who sees this?”

I looked at her, all but begging for validation. 

"I do think you're a lot stronger," she finally admitted and for a second I actually thought I had gotten through to her. But then she laid it on me again. "That’s why I know you could have a drink and be fine with it once in awhile. Only if you wanted to, though, and I'd never make you, of course.”

I felt like I was talking to someone that I didn't know. Eventually, I changed the subject—something I probably should have done much earlier. But I’ve had so many questions since then that I know I’ll never ask her. Does this mean that when I got sober, she didn't believe it or even take it seriously? Did she think I wanted to go drop almost 10 G's on detoxing and rehab for the fun of it? Does she not get that my "Livesober" Soberisexy bracelet is more than just a fashion statement and that the AA coin I keep in my purse means something? It was as if she thought I was going through some kind of “healthy” phase that I’d throw away for a Jager bomb as soon as the wind blew in the other direction. Or was this all part of her—perhaps subconscious—justification for her own behavior?

As time has passed since then, I’ve realized that my issues are my own and that if my sharing them with other people makes them question their own potential issues with drinking or drugging, that’s their business. My college friend and I still gossip about mutual friends, talk about pop culture and go shopping together. But I’ll never discuss my addiction with her again and I don’t need to. I know I’m an alcoholic and that’s good enough for me.

Randi Newton contributes to a number of websites, including The Gloss, and her first book, Seduce U, will be released by Digitature on Valentines Day 2013. Follow her at WorldOfRandi on Twitter. This is her first piece for The Fix.

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