Becoming Average

Say Zen
7 min readAug 27, 2023

The pain and beauty of being a regular, sober, human person

One of the first things I remarked on when getting sober was how unbelievably simple everything was: getting up to go to work on time, keeping my home relatively clean and tidy, and making my paycheque last the full two weeks until my next one came in. It felt, at first, like I was suddenly living life on easy mode. I guess I was just realizing, in retrospect, how hopelessly, unnecessarily hard my drinking had been making everything. For that first few months — the honeymoon period — the contrast was a wonderful relief. Life felt ordered, clear and full of promise.

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Honeymoons don’t last forever, of course: not in relationships, and not in sobriety. The thing about getting sober is that it does make everything so much simpler. At least at first. Then, as time goes on, you inevitably start to go a bit deeper into recovery, and you come to see all the things that drinking was helping you to avoid: in my case, all those parts of my past and myself that I hadn’t wanted to look at, and which were now forcing themselves, slowly, but brutally, into my field of vision. As many people have said before me, getting sober teaches you that the drinking isn’t the disease itself, but the symptom of something much more profound — not only in the sense of something deeper, darker, and weightier, but also something potentially much more rich and meaningful. You have to find the scars that have grown over, but never properly healed beneath the surface. And you have to keep swimming into the abyss to find the dark, sparkling gems that, you hope, line the ocean floor.

For a lot of people, getting sober seems like the straightforward removal of a barrier that was holding them back from peace, joy, success, and accomplishment. They get sober, it seems, and their true potential is unleashed, and they transform into glowing orbs of health, clarity and positivity. I remember an Instagram account of a man who, a couple years sober, had transformed himself into a deeply tanned and incredibly muscular yogi, and whose profile was full of pictures of him doing warrior 2 pose on a tropical beach, with captions thanking the path of sobriety for the health and happiness he’d uncovered. This didn’t happen for me.