Two words fill me with dread; Party Bus. A party bus in Las Vegas in no less.
Part of the tour I had booked included a party bus and a nightclub entry. I have to be honest even after a few years of sobriety, the proposition made me uncomfortable but not for the same reasons it would have done years ago. This time I wasn’t uncomfortable with the inevitable carnage, it is Vegas after all. I was uncomfortable with the fact of being uncomfortable. With all the uncomfortable questions and the proposition of being excluded. To counteract this potential I had a couple of options; decline the invitation or go along maintain a sense of fun and not be a misery. I chose the latter.
Sobriety is a duty that I have to perform in order to lead the way for more people to step up.
With it being Vegas I overindulged in my drug of choice; caffeine. A few red bulls and a five-hour energy, wild I know and I was throwing shapes with the best of them. I know I shouldn’t have to perform but fuck them, the drinkers I mean. I want people to know that a good time can be had without imbibing alcohol. The contrived nature of the party bus made it feel forced but the club we went to after enabled a sense of space. I busted some moves and threw a giant smile when people moaned about paying $14 for a bottle of bud light. I felt like the representative for sober people and think I did them proud. Then the tables are turned “I don’t know how you do it without alcohol?” My answer; “Try it. It’s more fun than you think.”
Eventually, the caffeine wore off and I hit the wall but had done my bit to show that things are still possible in sobriety. I survived a night on the tiles in the city of sin and my sobriety stood firm. When I drank I had nothing but drinking. Now I have everything thanks to sobriety. Without it I have nothing. No social pressure, no sin city, nobody, can change that fact. To drink would meaning losing a bet I made against myself 5 years ago. I didn’t think I would make it. How wrong was I? Each day now I pause, just for a minute, as if I’ve only just realised what is happening. That my life and I have completely changed over the last five years, beyond the point of recognition. At thirty-seven years old, I wish I had done it sooner. I wish I realised that I had the strength to do it younger. I wish I didn’t wait until I was completely fucked before making the change. If you are older start today. If you are younger start today. Don’t wait for it to fall apart.
The following day, I was awake early and went for breakfast… with a huge sugar/caffeine comedown. So it wasn’t all plain sailing but it was close enough to a hangover that I would want to get. It is an interesting place Las Vegas, kinda like being at a music festival. With performers and music playing, people getting bang on it and losing more than just money. There was plenty to do other than drinking and gambling so my original fears were not really needed. Initially, I wasn’t looking forward to going to Vegas but even in sobriety, it turned out to be a fun experience. Although, I’m not sure I could have stayed more than the couple of nights that I did though. The rollercoasters were fun and just walking around was an experience.
I left with no stories of destruction but one story of strength. My pride intact and sobriety’s stock risen.
The message from this is that even in the epicentre of temptation, collapsing to expectation isn’t necessary. In fact, it is detrimental. I think of it like this; Is everything I have worked for in sobriety worth one cliché story about Vegas? In fact, is it worth one cliché story about the weekend? Is it worth one night on the piss because someone annoyed me that day? Of course, it isn’t. My sobriety is the energy that shines the light into all areas of my life. Without it, there is darkness and despair. I was there for too long to go back. So I don’t play about with sobriety. I don’t tempt fate or put myself into situations like this too often. A one-off is doable for me. A constant life of party buses would push me over the edge.
I had spent the night prior to Vegas in monument valley, underneath the stars. The wind whipping sand around me as I laid looking up at the fantastic scenery that was silhouetted against the unbridled beauty of the night sky. It’s a great metaphor for the transition that I feel I have undertaken. Vegas being the chaos, carnage and self-destruction and monument valley being the peace, serenity and connectivity that is available when I remove my self from the former.
Along with the serenity and calm, I have a sense of strength. I will not budge, some smart arse kept offering me a beer in Vegas but I just smirked and said: “ask me again tomorrow.” I wish I had thought of a better retort because he kept asking me. Maybe he thought I genuinely meant ask me again tomorrow. Thankfully, incidents like that are rear but I do sometimes feel that I am fighting convention by not drinking.
That sobriety is an act of revolution; throwing down the chains and saying “no more to a life of chaos.”
Life doesn’t have to be a cluster fuck of drama interspersed with fragments of contentment. My life previously was the equivalent of living with a pyromaniac who was always starting fires and I would rush around constantly putting them out. Sobriety means evicting the pyro and any other unnecessary shit from my life. I keep it simple and don’t get involved in anyone else’s battles, unless completely necessary. I try to handle situations as and when they arise, where possible. I walk with ease and my mind is at rest. I have come a long way from the anxious, unconfident, misfit that I spent many years unnecessarily living as.
I feel like a badge carrier for the sober movement. An ambassador for freedom and the potentiality of living without alcohol. That my failure is the failure of many. I don’t see it as extra pressure, I see it as a duty, as a reason to keep going and keep living. To show the people who are where I was that it is not only possible to quit drinking but that it is possible to venture into the imagination and bring it out as reality.
I want my message to be the hand that someone finds when they are drowning in the madness because if I can inspire just one person to make the change to get their life on track then the years of shit I waded through will have been worth it.