I get asked that question a lot because I talk about my sobriety a lot. I make it very well-known that I am an alcoholic who does not drink. I find myself justifying to these people why I don't go to meetings, why I'm not working the steps, why I am not in THE PROGRAM. I have to explain how I've created my own support system amongst my friends & random folks who I feel a connection to because we are the same yet we are so different, how that is basically a meeting. How when I'm with these people we talk about addiction, recovery & sobriety. We share our experiences. We are a meeting. I explain that when I got sober I started writing about it in my zine (then I explain what zines are*) & I started going on zine tours & reading those zines to rooms full of people, how that is my meeting. I tell them how I wrote a book about my experiences growing up & how I started drinking at a young age & how booze shaped my life. I tell them how I do book signings & share those experiences & how that is my meeting.
But I don't want to have to do all that because I don't think there is one way to get sober & be sober. I don't think there is one way to stay sober. Don't get me wrong, I love 12 step programs. 12 step programs have kept people alive & living well for many, many years that I love so much. Plus, not every single person in the program feels this way or makes me feel this way. I won't make a blanket statement like that. But for those people who do, I just think it's unfair to shame those of us who chose a different path of sobriety. It's unfair to make those of us who are sober & living sober without working the steps to think we are doing it "wrong" & therefor it will eventually, end. Because it's not those 12 steps keeping me sober, it's me. It's the fact that after 5 years I still can remember what it was like to live a life that revolved around drinking. After 5 years I can still remember how it felt to wake up hungover yet still in pain from whatever bullshit I was trying to drink away. After 5 years I still remember that drinking never solved anything.
The steps, THE PROGRAM, the meetings, all those things are tools to help you be strong & secure in your sobriety & they are wonderful & they work. But the bottom line is, it's you & me not picking up a bottle & however we chose to do that is the right way, 12 steps or not. Whatever it is that we're doing that is bringing us another day of sobriety is exactly what we should be doing & if a day comes where a 12 step program is what you or I need, then so be it. But don't ever let anyone tell you that your sobriety isn't absolutely incredible because you aren't doing it the way they are. 5 years after my last drink I am living a life that isn't easy or charmed but rather fulfilling because of the work I put into it. I look my demons in the eye everyday & I beat them. I set goals & I achieve them & it's all because of my sobriety. I am forever humbled & thankful for my strength & perseverance. I am grateful for the people in my life who believe in me & support me, who have stood with me for 5 years & celebrated my achievements. Every day I am alive & sober is a blessing & a gift.
* a self-published "magazine" of sorts
If you're interested in reading more about my recovery & sobriety you can order my zine, Lady Teeth here. Or use the donate button below to support independent writers (ie: this old gal).