sober-in-nyc

Sober in the City: I Want To Drink To De-stress, But I Can’t. Now What?

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An Addict’s Experience with Staying Sober in NYC

Last Friday, I worked 8 hours on my feet at my retail job in SoHo. As much as I love people, it’s emotionally taxing to be “on” for an entire day with a smile on my face. Towards the end of my shift, I was pretty grumpy. On my train ride home, my grumpiness continued when I realized the train had no seats left. I had to stand for 20 more minutes, shoulder to shoulder with stinky strangers in a crowded little box.

I stood there, with my eyes closed, picturing myself taking a bath while drinking a big glass of wine. This delusional thought was so relaxing, I may have even smiled. When the train slammed on its brakes, and I had to get off at my stop, it brought me right back to my reality: I. Can’t. Drink. Wine was never even my drink of choice, I was always more of a Jack Daniels straight from the bottle kind of gal (#classy).

I stood there, with my eyes closed, picturing myself taking a bath while drinking a big glass of wine. This delusional thought was so relaxing, I may have even smiled.

I’ve been sober for over a year, and I still struggle with the fact that I can never drink again. This very thought can be overwhelming sometimes. On the 10 minute walk home, I listened to a few fracks from Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes. The piano intro to “Trouble” was the soothing melody that I needed in that moment. It calmed me down. It helped me accept the fact that taking a bath and enjoying a glass of wine are not viable options for me because my apartment doesn’t have a working bathtub and I have a terribly unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

As soon as I got home, I made a warm cup of tea and put on some comfy clothes. I sipped my tea in the comfort of my bed while writing in my journal. In this moment, I remembered how for years I chose to drink until I forgot what was stressing me out. Now in sobriety, I choose to pause and reflect on the madness of my day. I identify my stressors and how they made me feel.

After journaling, I meditated for 20 minutes. I laid there in my dark bedroom as I felt the day throb through me. My body ached. My mind was mush. I took a series of deep breaths, desperate to find relaxation. The sirens, honking, and yelling outside my window are customary now. My mind has accepted these background noises as non-negotiable. This is urban city life. It hurts. It’s loud. It’s triggering. It’s not for everyone. Sometimes, I have to remind myself why it’s for me.

My body ached. My mind was mush. I took a series of deep breaths, desperate to find relaxation. The sirens, honking, and yelling outside my window are customary now. My mind has accepted these background noises as non-negotiable.

New York City life is tough. Sobriety in this city is even tougher. Somehow, the two came together and worked for me. As much as I wish I could have come home to a relaxing glass of wine, I’m happy that I chose to unwind in a different way. I do wish my bathtub worked though.

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Tawny is an NYC-based millennial who writes about the intersection of sex and sobriety. Her work is featured in Playboy, Men’s Health, Huffington Post, Writer’s Digest, and more. She is the co-host of Recovery Rocks podcast and the story developer for the Webby-Award-winning podcast, F*cking Sober.

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