My name is Alysse, and I am most definitely an alcoholic. I started referring to myself as an alcoholic in spring 2006 before the clinical term became more widely known as Alcohol Use Disorder. (AUD for short) My sobriety date is 05.01.2006. I didn’t come out publicly on the internet about my alcoholism until I launched The Sober Curator back in August 2020. Prior to that, I was open about it around select people in an attempt to control the narrative around it. Isn’t that cute that I thought I could control what people think of me?
Recovering Out Loud
While I have seen improvement around the stigma surrounding alcohol and substance abuse issues since getting sober in 2006, I can assure you the stigma is still alive and well in 2023. Since launching this site with a very talented group of content creators that volunteer their time and energy, I have lost track of how many articles I’ve written, social media posts I’ve made, podcasts I’ve been a guest on, or crowds I’ve spoken in front of. The only filters left in my life are the ones I use on photos on Instagram.
Simply put, I finally stopped caring about what other people think of me. (I mean, for the most part, I’m not perfect. Let’s not get it twisted.) I put out content about recovery and content in general that I like, that entertains me, with a hope and a prayer it might help someone else or at least make them chuckle.
Want to know what else I’ve lost track of?
How many phone calls have I taken to help someone get a detox bed or find a treatment center. I can’t remember the names of every single woman I have sponsored over the years, nor have I tracked where they all ended up. I am clueless about how many hours I’ve volunteered for recovery-based nonprofit organizations. I’ve probably been to thousands of meetings in church basements and clocked hundreds of hours in therapy. My bookshelves are lined with every possible recovery book I’ve been able to get my hands on. Newsflash! Back in 2006, there weren’t that many of them. My dear friend and fellow Sober Curator Kate Vitela jokes that she has to “take a number” to get in line to get time with me. (She’s not wrong, if you don’t make it on my calendar, forget about it.)
Want to know what I’ve realized?
I have a servant’s heart, primarily due to how my parents raised me and because my life in recovery depends on it. Being of service to others is vital to my recovery, and I like to remind people that the definition of vital means “necessary for life.” That’s the secret sauce to recovery folks. It’s impossible for me to feel sorry for myself and be helping someone else at the same time. And because I have a brain that wants to feel sorry for itself a majority of the time, I’ve thrown myself into service work with a vengeance. Now, it comes as easily as breathing. I don’t think about it, I just do.
It also turns out I can tell a 45-minute story that should have been only three minutes. So, with this knowledge of myself, I’ll wrap this post with the 17 things I love about being 17 years sober. If you want to know more, my inbox is open.
17 Things I Love About Being Sober for 17 Years (in no particular order)
- #1. My Soberthday fell on Monday, May 1st this year, which was also the 1st Monday in May, known in the fashion world as Met Gala Day. I spent the evening at home watching hours and hours of couture, red carpet fashion draped on celebrities while eating popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, and drinking diet Coke. The Met Gala is my fashion Superbowl. I make a point to get to The Metropolitan Museum in NYC every year to see the fashion exhibit that is kicked off at each year’s gala.
- #2. While I didn’t go with a “theme” for my Soberthday this year, like I have done in recent years past, I was inspired by my friend and fellow Sober Curator Amy Liz Harrison to make a theme song. The selection? The Sound of Sober! With the help of my parents, we re-wrote the lyrics to the song “I am 16 Going on 17” from The Sound of Music. Amy performed it with me, draped in BLACKOUT Curtains (Courtesy of Kate Vitela, thank you very much), at Amy’s 12th Soberthday Party.
2:30 Minute Version of this performance HERE on Facebook
1:30 Minute Version HERE on Instagram
You can listen to Amy Liz Harrison’s Eternally Amy podcast HERE as we talk about celebrating 12 & 17 years sober.
Back to the list…
- #3. At 17 years sober, I am a homeowner and debt free. (Minus the home loan, obviously.) 10 Steps On How To Buy Your First House As A Single, Sober, Middle Aged Woman (thesobercurator.com) It should be noted that at 10 years sober I did not own a home and I was a cool $60K+ in debt thanks to the shopping addiction I had in the first 10 years of my recovery trying to keep up with the Sober Jones’s. I still love to shop, and often joke that shopping is my cardio. I’ve had to, and continue to have to work on, this area of self-improvement in my life. I’m impulsive AF.
- #4. Last summer, I quit my corporate job with the big NBC TV Station in Seattle, trading in my stilettos and office with a view of the Seattle skyline for coveralls in a warehouse in the burbs. I’ve never been happier. I’m working on numerous startups and projects and helping a variety of businesses reach their goals. This is my 5th “job” change in 17 years of recovery, and I love what I do and who I do it with.
- #5. I love my dogs Roxie and Bella. They can be real bitches, but they also offer me unconditional love and snuggles. For me, pet ownership and recovery work really well together.
- #6. I love the relationship I have with my parents. I see them frequently and call them probably more often than they would prefer. They were also really happy that at 47 years old and 17 years sober, I finally moved everything out of their garage that I’d been storing there for the last several decades.
- #7. I love the Sober Curators – past and present. Each one of them has a special spot in my heart. Want to become one? Send me an email and I’ll let you know what’s involved. firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh hey, only 10 more to go!
- #8. I love my son Jakob. We already have two great trips under our belts so far for 2023 and I will eagerly hang out with him anytime he wants.
- #9. The Sober Community at large, both in-person and online, has become incredibly important to me. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime or just a season, and I’m grateful for every single one. The longer I stay sober, the less I know. Being surrounded by people in recovery is critical for my personal recovery.
- #10. People with less than a year of recovery often teach me the most. And watching them sober up and figure out how to live life on life’s terms is incredibly rewarding. However, if you have a year or less of recovery and you start marketing yourself as a sober coach or sober influencer, we might need to have a little chat about reality. (I say this with love and also conviction. This comes from experience of thinking I was the sober shit at one year.)
- #11. The number eleven has become my angel number. Didn’t even know they were a thing until last summer, but I’m glad to have one now. What are angel numbers? Beginner’s guide to what they (could) mean. (usatoday.com)
- #12. Working from home is thebomb.com but I have had to learn that I still need to be around people IRL. I’ve been practicing living a more intentional life for the last nine months. If you ask me about it, prepare for a long talk. Through this daily practice, I’ve learned that too much alone time isn’t good for me. I make multiple intentional appointments to meet-up with people on a weekly basis IRL. I gave up having FOMO and embraced JOMO. I can’t and do not need to be everything to everyone all of the time. But I also can be alone for too long of periods of time. For me, social balance is key.
- #13. I started taking an Improv class and Memoir writing class online. Simply put, I’m done talking about things I want to accomplish or dreaming about them, and now it’s time to make it all real. Your actions reflect your true intentions. How long are you going to talk about that thing you want or want to do before you actually go do it?
The Final Four…
- #14. Selfcare is life. I sleep a lot. I have a regular walking routine, along with massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture appointments. I try to drink more water than I do diet coke and coffee. I allow myself a certain amount of weekly TV time to just unwind and escape. I read a minimum of two books a month.
- #15. I spend time with GOD in ways that are meaningful to me. Whether its attending church in person or online, practicing daily meditations, prayers, and gratitude lists, or listening to spiritual books and podcasts that lift me up, I stay plugged in to my higher power.
- #16. If I can be helpful, I say yes. I do this without expecting anything in return. I’m all about helping others for fun and for free, no strings attached.
- #17. I do all of this, perfectly imperfectly, one day at a time. However, I did have to stop taking the #ODAAT thing SO literal.
So, this is me at 17. It’s sometimes messy but mostly pretty decent. There are more good days than bad days, and when the bad days roll in, I know what to do and who to ask for help. Have I gotten everything I thought I would have at this age? Nope. Definitely not. But if you had told me 17 years ago that if I gave up vodka and cocaine my life would look like it does today, I would not have believed you. Full stop.
I have a life beyond my wildest dreams, and I know deep in my soul that the best is yet to come. Seventeen years Sober Alysse is stepping into her power, and she’s comfortable in her skin. Watch out, world; I’m comin’ for you!