How I Found Activism Through Claiming Edge

My sobriety has been like getting to know a friend of a friend. You know the one, you go out with a close friend, and they bring someone who’s name you’ve seen on Facebook. You know their face and some details of their life, but they are in no way someone you’re familiar with. 

books on sobriety

Alcohol was that mutual friend, the one who softened the contact between me and that person I didn’t know, and wasn’t sure I was going to like. 

When I quit drinking, it was like being stuck on a long car ride with that third person. Alone with them in a small space, with nothing to keep us entertained except ourselves. 

I’ve been on that long road trip for about three years now, and I’d no longer call that person a stranger, or an acquaintance. They are the version of myself that faces reality head on, without the anesthetic that is alcohol, and they are my soulmate. 

I read somewhere that connection is the opposite of addiction, and I tend to think that is true. I used alcohol as a way to numb my inhibitions so I could connect with others, whatever form that would take. My addictions don’t lie in alcohol, what I’m truly addicted to isn’t alcohol, or food, or sex, it’s connection. 

My sobriety has been like getting to know a friend of a friend. You know the one, you go out with a close friend, and they bring someone who’s name you’ve seen on Facebook. You know their face and some details of their life, but they are in no way someone you’re familiar with. 

I’ve always been an angsty angry punk. For a long time, I didn’t realize that I could actually change things, I thought that the world was screwed up, and that all I could do was mitigate my own pain. In what seems like my never-ending quest for connection, I have found so many others who share my pain, that it makes far more sense to share the weight of solving it, to connect with one another as a united front, rather than stumbling along alone. 

My sobriety has helped give me the confidence to speak up. I had to get to know myself again after a few years of drinking being part of my personality, and in doing this, I really discovered what I did and didn’t care about. When your peers are busy using alcohol to force themselves to have fun, they aren’t seeing what you’re doing.

Since I’ve been sober I’ve never once had a person tell me about something embarrassing I did the night before, because as much as we feel important, we are only the protagonist of our own stories, and nobody else is truly paying attention to us. Without drinking, without the anesthetics designed to keep the working class complacent, there is no other option but activism. There is no way to be content in the current system, there is only the desire to change it. 

I believe there is no freedom until we are all free. Inequality is rampant and unacceptable, and I refuse to rest until humans are equal, corporations have ceased the destruction of our planet and non-human animals have been uplifted. I sit on a women’s committee in my male-dominated workplace. I do work in my job for my union, protecting worker’s rights. I fight for the rights of those in poverty, locally and globally. For me, the way to fill the gap left by social drinking is with social justice. 

Maybe altruism is less selfless when it benefits oneself, but I gain the greatest sense of connection by helping others and standing alongside those who share my passions and convictions. This connection is what I crave. I find value in connecting with others through protests and demonstrations and conversations, and these passions help keep me sober. I know that if I numb myself to these issues by using alcohol, I won’t be capable of the activism that my sobriety has brought me over the last three years. I’m grateful for the life that being straight-edge has lead me to, and I want to help others get into a position in their life where they can feel this same call to protest, to riot, to change things. I want us all to stand together and fight against a system that is skewed against us as women, non-binary people, LGBTQ+, those who are living in poverty, and minorities. Those of us who have even the smallest sliver or privilege, need to be using that to pull up anyone who possesses less power. 

Activism has only become accessible to me through straight edge life. Things I merely got angry about before are now full-fledged causes that I am prepared to fight for, and I hope that your own journey with living straight edge leads you to activism as well, and that you’ll soon stand on the front lines alongside me. 

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  1. Introspective Read
    “Without drinking, without the anesthetics designed to keep the working class complacent, there is no other option but activism. There is no way to be content in the current system, there is only the desire to change it.”

    This passage served as a great epiphany for me. I’ve always found myself charged and have dedicated my career to breaking the norms that perpetuate inequity and injustice. After reading your article I have realized that my charge for social justice is heightened and complimented by my choice to live free of the recreational use of drugs.

    Thank you for your contribution to this body of literature!

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  2. Thanks!
    I’ve always seen drug use as a distraction from the work that needs to be done to improve upon the world. Your article addresses this perfectly. Thanks!
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