The result of my reflection on American perfectionist culture.
Should I stop abstaining I would have yet another tick on my list that proved me a failure.
In October of 2019, I decided to take a week off drinking. That week lasted a little over 2 years. During that time, I experienced some of the most transforming situations of my life.
- I found myself in an abusive relationship (again).
- The pandemic.
- My dad got cancer.
- My aunts threatened to sue me. Twice.
- I (kind of) lived in Ireland.
- I moved (back) to France.
- My father died.
- My family excommunicated me.
- I fell into the most profound depression I’ve ever known.
- I changed my birth control from Mirena to the copper one.
- I got a dog from the Societé Protective des Animaux I named Soleil.
To say that sobriety hurt me during this more than trying time would be a lie. I tapped into a power source within me that I did not know existed. Life without alcohol changed me, inarguably, for the better. It also allowed me to challenge certain qualities that I inherited as an American.
Before I continue — I very much understand that some struggle with addiction. I am of the school of thought that addiction and abuse are not the same. I am also of the belief that there is no one school of thought. I do not deny or diminish the seriousness of addiction; it’s an illness that has maintained a presence in my life since 1987 (aka birth) in the form of my parents, family, and countless loved ones.
In August of 2021…
I became acutely aware of how attached I’d become to my identity as “sober.” Further, I became acutely aware of how toxic perfectionism swamped the sobriety community online. I believed and still believe it to be a consequence of American culture.
A woman I follow on Instagram would post gleefully about her sobriety streaks. Then, after one evening of alcohol consumption, she’d publicly berate herself for her failure.