If You are Sober and Stupid, Boring and Glum, Then You’re Doing it Wrong.

Studio 54 Cartoon

Some of my most favorites lines in the big book are, “For most normal folks, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination… am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring, and glum?” (BB 151-152).

Let me start off by saying that I was born in a nice part of Houston, complete with bike trails and trees. My mom took me to church and sometimes bought me an ice cream cone after (Bubblegum of they had it; turtle if they didn’t). I had tons of books and art supplies and after school activities. My parents stressed good grades and participation on sports teams.

So, where I got this notion of drinking, I have no idea. No, no, not the notion of should I drink or why I drank. I got that. I mean the notion that alcoholics and drug addicts are brazen intellectuals and glamourous artists, pushing past the lines of conventionality into oblivion, the notion that alcohol and drugs allow one to experience life on a heightened, more surreal plane.

I decided that my perception of drinking is based not on the reality but fantasy. James Dean. James Bond. Hemingway on the Champs-Elysees. Andy Warhol at Studio 54. Hunter S. Thompson’s Las Vegas, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls…Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can, (Fear and Loathing). The realization that all my drug fantasies exist in an era before I was even cognizant of what drugs were, is only further evidence that I have invented my own duel existence.

The reality is, that’s not the way my drinking looked at all. There was no step and repeat in front of the Marshall House. I was a writer that never wrote. A schemer. A dreamer. I was neither glamourous nor charming. At best I was a bar fly and at worst a depressed, isolated drunk.

I am lucky that I am able to realize that my fantasies of drinking and drugging are a fictitious twist of my imagination. That’s not the case with many. There is a guy I hear that speaks of waxing poetically as he drinks. He doesn’t get it. There is a girl who, while she is at meeting, laments about the friends she is missing; maybe she doesn’t have to give them up after all. She doesn’t get it either.

When I got sober, I thought I would never again go out dancing, see a concert, or have sex. I never thought I would have interesting friends hell bent on making up for lost opportunities and time. I never thought of the sober artist as the creative one. That it would be my sober life that was the exciting, daring, fulfilling one.

Everyday I wake up, there is a change to do something spectacular. ( I usually just end up at work, but there’s always that chance). When the book says, “You will gain a new freedom and a new happiness,” I get that. I am no longer held by the confines of the bar stool or liquor bottle. My brain does not hurt. My mind is not hazy. I have passion and ambition and love. If you are sober and stupid, boring and glum, then you’re doing it wrong.

6 thoughts on “If You are Sober and Stupid, Boring and Glum, Then You’re Doing it Wrong.

  1. I stumbled onto your website and couldn’t stop reading. We are not a glum lot! And for that I am grateful. Look forward to continuing posts.
    Sincerely, your friend in C.A. Arizona. Rebecca D. Groen

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  2. Ann, I agree with you sober, stupid, boring and glum is not the goal. In fact overcoming addiction (sobriety) is really a stepping stone to the real goal of living a balanced, fulfilling and meaningful life. Now mind you for me and many others it is an absolutely necessary step as there is NO WAY to have a meaningful life while in active addiction. It is also a real challenge for many of us to achieve that goal after the absolute destruction that addiction had brought to our lives. Finding work after being fired from multiple jobs (even with a degree), the alcohol and drug related criminal record is another hurdle. Broken families, lost homes all of these things make living a balanced, meaningful, and fulfilling life difficult but not impossible. We can and do overcome addiction and go on to live good lives. Althought I work Cognitive based program (SMART Recovery) that is based on selfpowerment philosophy where we believe we are definatley not powerless over our addiction. I do however enjoy your blog and respect the 12 step programs anyway you can beat addiction is a good way in my book.

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    • Mike- Thank you for your comment. I’ve read it several times over the past couple of days. I think the powerlessness part of AA has to do with the active part of addiction. In my day, I never once turned down a free drink. But I’m not powerless now. (Over drinking at least. Pizza is an entirely different issue.)

      I have never believed though that AA has a monopoly on sobriety. Its just the way that worked for me. I’d love to hear more about SMART recovery. How does it work? I look forward to hearing more from you.
      AGK

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