The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – A Boom Community Book Club Selection

Welcome to the Boom Community Book Club. Below you will find our discussion on The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray. There are eleven sections here that each link back to the discussion in our private community. You are welcome to come join in the discussion any time.


On p. 13 of the Introduction to The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, Gray talks about her epiphany:

“unless I quit drinking, I was not going to get the life I wanted.”

I would imagine that, if we are here, we have had one or two epiphanies of our own. 

I remember mine clearly: I was sitting on the couch of my relatively gross apartment. I was recovering from my life nearly blowing up (within two months I got arrested, lost my job, and divorced my husband – my kids were 8 and 2 at the time). I had a new career, and I was in a relationship with a really good person. But things still sucked. I was drinking more than ever, I was sweating constantly, I was always grumpy with my kids, and I was creating senseless conflict with my boyfriend. As I sat in my drinking corner, for the first time ever, I thought: “What if drinking is actually creating some of my problems instead of helping soothe them?” That is the thought catalyst or epiphany that started my AF journey. 

What was yours? The one that finally got you here?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

I. The Nightcrawling Netherworld

There is so much here to relate to.. jail (yes); “normal drinking rules” (all broken); journal with ideas on how to drink less (always started then thrown away). The normal drinking rules and journal section really made me laugh out loud. I could picture my early morning scribbling… “I will only drink 3 beers tonight, and I will not start until after 5:00.” Then, I would come home at 4:00, rip it out and drink the night away.

I thought the section on ‘Rock Bottom Convincers’ was good, and I’m sure many have things to add there. 

But the part in this section of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober that stood out to me was on p. 55. Gray talks about the thought in her head on a loop – “I need a drink. I need a drink. I need a drink. I’m drinking, but I still need more to drink.” This really summarizes my last few months drinking. I had always been a pretty heavy drinker, but it just seemed to keep going. I remember feeling a little sickened and surprised that a 6-pack of beer was no longer enough for my evenings. I remember how quickly I emptied the large bottle of vodka I had expected to last months. I remember wanting to know all my daily drinking details all of the time: when could I start? Where would I drink? How much is available? What are the options for more?

DRINK. DRINK. DRINK. It just kept ramping up and up and up in my brain. I started to realize that there would never be enough alcohol for me. That no matter how little or much I had, the only goal was… more.

I really like how Gray tackles so many topics in a section. If you are reading along, what stood out to you in Part I? If not, were there any other “convincers” as Gray calls them for you along the way — in those final couple months or even years of drinking? We’ve talked about our epiphanies or our “last worst time drinking,” but what about the smaller things that added up?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

II. Learning to be Sober

Yay! We are past the ugly parts and on to the “how-to.” BOOM has tons of resources for the first few days being AF, but you can never have too much of a good thing, right?

For this section, I want to focus on Gray’s “30 Tools for the First 30 Days”

I have circled items from her list that helped me, and then I will reflect on each. I invite you to do the same in the comments below. Choose as many or as few as you would like. If you are not reading along, my list is pretty long, so you can see if you agree with any below – then add your own experience.

2. I Loaded up on Vitamin B and Thiamine — Not those two specifically, BUT THAT IS WHAT GOT ME TO BOOM! On my last night drinking, I googled: “supplements to help quit drinking.” That got me to a Boozemusings article which led me here (which saved my life). So, yeah, this helped me.

4. I Saw an Addiction Counselor — Well, I went to my usual counselor, who I had been seeing for 2 years about other issues. In tears, I told him that I needed to quit drinking, and that I had been lying to him for 2 years and that I needed help. He looked at me with a mixture of shock and thrill. “Addiction is one of my specialties, but you never mentioned it, and I had no clue.” Kismet.

7. I Exercised Daily — I still try.

10. I Studied to Be Sober Like I Was Studying for a Career — BOOM’s quit-lit reading list became my syllabus. I devoured so many books that I often have no clue if I have read one or not. I just inhaled page after page. These books, along with BOOM, made me realize I was not unique. Alcohol is addictive, and some of us get dragged into it’s “Netherworld.” I took some time away from these stories last year — I was focusing on more “big picture” texts, like some of the titles in upcoming months. But, as I entered a new year of sobriety, I wanted to refresh my experiences with drinking and my early days of sobriety. Thus, BBC 🙂

16. I Cancelled Drinky Events — Big time. I was lucky to be at a place and time in my life when this was easier. Certain periods of my life would not have made this possible. I got over my FOMO and focused on my new goal — getting rid of alcohol. 

19. I Left the Past Alone — I’ve now had lots of time to deal with this, but I tried not to get bogged down in shame. I’ve shared some of my worst moments here, but there are some that will likely stay locked in my ‘box-o’-secrets’ forever.

20. I Found a Sober Tribe — BOOM! (And, my brother who is 7 years AF.) He and some of my earliest BOOM buddies to whom I owe the most gratitude.

21. I Developed a Twilight Hair-Washing Ritual — Not exactly, but close. I was struggling with the “witching hour.” The time between 6:00 – 9:00 when as a single mom (newly divorced), I was trying to get two girls to bed. They wanted so much of my attention, and I was so fragile, and it would have been SO much easier to drink than deal with all of that. Someone on BOOM posted a comment (and I don’t think it was to me – I just found it through endless scrolling) about taking a bath before beginning that “kid / nighttime” ritual. I tried it, and it worked. I let the girls watch TV for 30 minutes while I soaked in Epsom salt baths and totally let myself relax. I was then more present and better prepared to interact with them while staying sober.

24. I Cleaned My House — I had always loved to clean while drinking. But, once I stopped, I realized that my sloppy job needed some work. I organized and purged clothes and just changed the way I was living in my home. Since I wasn’t going to drinky events, and since most of my drinking occurred at home anyway, I wanted a fresh space to start. And I had time to do it, because I wasn’t drinking.

25. I Counted the Days with an App — Yep, still do. I know some people don’t count, and I get it. But, I needed to. It was crucial to my success.

27. I Made Medical Appointments — and dental appointments and paid library fines and updated addresses.

30. I Remembered that a Thought Cannot Make Me Drink — So I came to BOOM and typed those thoughts here. And we crushed them.

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

III. Nature, Rather than Nightclubs

This section of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober tracks Gray’s transformation from Party Girl to Sober Girl – a journey that many of us are on or have completed. She walks us through her realizations, and I could relate to many of them. 

There is also an excellent description of how she learns she is secretly an introvert. Personally, that was one of my greatest discoveries on this journey. I would NEVER have described myself as an introvert for the majority of my life. I wanted to be out among the people: talking, laughing, being the center of attention. I quickly learned that was the alcohol speaking. 

One part that stood out to me was when she mentioned that now she “look(s) into the nightclub world with horror.” I wasn’t a nightclub drinker; I was a happy hour drinker, but I can relate. When I find myself in a bar now, I feel almost dirty. Walking from the fresh air and sunshine into a dark, sticky, and musty place knocks the wind out of me. Watching people sit with glazed expressions talk over top of each other makes me feel empty inside. My former “happiest place on earth” is now a purgatory of sorts. So, I don’t go. 

I also loved her section on sober holidays (or vacations). We have MANY helpful posts on “surviving” sober vacations here on BOOM, but I want to reflect a bit on how (in retrospect) truly awful my drinking vacations were. 

I remember spending 10 days on the gorgeous central coast of California and spending virtually no time outdoors (unless you count outdoor bars/vineyards – I don’t). I remember spending vast amounts of money on alcohol everywhere it was available (on the airplane, at convenience stores on the way to the hotel, at the hotel, at bars/wineries). I remember having to recline my seat in our car during the spectacular drive down the coast because I was afraid I would throw up.

When I returned to California last year, I had the exact opposite experience. I explored trails and sidewalks instead of bars. I relaxed in our accommodations instead of rushing around inventorying the alcohol supply. I breathed in the ocean air.

Like the author, experiencing nature has been one of sobriety’s greatest gifts to me. What about you? If you are reading along, could you relate to her transformation? If you are newly AF, what fears do you hold about losing your Party Girl or Guy status? If you are not reading, what has been your “nature, rather than nightclubs” thus far in your AF journey?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

IV. Being Nicer

If I’m being honest, this section did not immediately hold an appeal for me. I skimmed it and thought, “being AF has changed me in a ton of ways, but ‘being nicer’ isn’t one of them.” I had intended to write a quick post and hope that others took more meaning from it than I did. 

However, as I was getting ready to write, I took another look at the chapter and discovered some things worth talking about:

– GRATITUDE: This is nothing new, but it bears repeating. Basically everyone agrees that “gratitude is life changing.” I try to practice gratitude in different ways, but I could do better. I remember, early in sobriety, reading something that recommended starting your day by repeating “thank” and “you” with each step (likely on your way to the coffee pot or bathroom). Just for the pure gift of being alive. My first few months AF, I truly felt so happy about making it another day that I loved this practice. I might rekindle it….

I like the author’s quick list of everyday things for which she is grateful.  

What’s yours? I will share mine, too.

– BITCHING: Ugh. THIS is an area where I can still improve. Full vulnerability on display: I know I can be bitchy, and it makes me sad. Some of my deepest hurts are times when, as a kid, I got in trouble for making fun of other kids. In my high school awards ceremony, I was voted “Wicked Witch of XXX High School” (I still want to cry for my humiliated teenage self). For a long time, I felt misunderstood. I felt like I was naturally sarcastic and my judgements/criticisms of people shouldn’t be taken so harshly; it was all in good fun. I honestly don’t think the drunk-me was any bitchier than the sober-me. But one of the “gifts” of this journey is the ability to reflect and feel empathy. I was so busy drinking that I didn’t have any time to consider how I impacted those around me. 

So quitting drinking did not stop my proclivity to be mean. But it did give me a clear enough head to consider why I leaned that way (ingrained feelings of not being ‘enough’) and also how it might make people feel (like they are not ‘enough’). So, as I continue to work on loving myself, I continue to make progress in loving and showing kindness to others. I can be pretty certain that if my brain were still totally focused on drinking, I would not be doing this work today. So, maybe my initial reaction about this chapter was wrong.

– DRINKING ME vs SOBER ME from a friend’s perspective: No way, no chance, no how. If you are brave enough to do this and think it would be helpful, please do. For me, I just can’t. I’m too far away from that person, but I remember her very clearly; I don’t need reminders. Maybe earlier this would have been, as Gray says, “a sober-refueling strategy,” but not now, not for me. I don’t have the capacity to know additional things I did to hurt those around me – I already know of so many.

This is also, for me, a huge reason I never considered AA. The dreaded “make amends” step. I knew myself well enough to know that I just wouldn’t do it. There are many, many people in my life with whom I have made amends, but some of the hurt I have caused just can’t be approached in this manner. I have worked (and am working) on those things with myself and my therapist, but there ARE parts of Drinking Me that will stay buried and forgotten. I don’t think I would have ever made it past this step.

But what I might do is to write a letter to myself with a different focus. I would like to write to myself sharing all of the ways I have grown during this journey. If you would like to write one, share it in our comments.

Curious to hear what others thought of this section, or just thoughts in general about the link between being AF and being nice 🙂

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

V. Socializing Sober

Another great section, and one that we cover extensively here on Boom. I liked Gray’s “timeline” of how being around alcohol from seven months sober all the way to two and a half years. I feel very similar to her, and I think this is powerful material for anyone who wants to know more about how this progression goes. 

I also liked her “Why Are You Not Drinking” one-liners. When Winged Victory shared hers on being “retired from drinking” it totally changed my life. I struggled SO much with what to say and how to say it. I was so afraid of losing my “street-cred” as a drinker, and I didn’t want anyone to ever think I was one of “those” people who had never had a drink. (I still use this phrase sometimes, but I’m MUCH less worried about what others think 🙂.)

Also, and as we have chatted about here on Boom over the years, there is good information on what it’s like to attend weddings booze-free. Many of us have done it, and we love to talk about it, so always remember to post when you need help navigating a new sober situation. I will never forget my first sober wedding. I had the great fortune of having a waitress who “got it”. After I turned down cocktails several times and always just asked for a refill on my soda water, she lovingly brought me an AF glass of bubbly for the toast. She was discreet but clear, “This one doesn’t have alcohol in it.” To this day, I wonder if she, herself, was sober, or if she thought I was in the early stages of pregnancy – lol! But either way, she made my evening much more comfortable than it could have been.

But, hands down, my favorite part in this section is a simple line that made me laugh out loud: “Everybody in recovery will remember, with pin-perfect clarity, the first time they had to ask for a soft drink in front of a crowd/table/kitchenful at a party. It’s heart-stopping.” I can laugh now (because it is so true!), but I wasn’t laughing then.

I remember that I was about 30 days sober, and I had to attend a work function out of town that would be soaked in booze. Luckily for me, I was new to the company, so no one knew my drinking tendencies, but that didn’t stop everyone from constantly talking about alcohol. I knew how many drink tickets I would be allotted; I knew where the pre-party and after-party would be; I knew which guys to stay away from and which gals likely wouldn’t. It was astonishing – everyone automatically assumed I drank, and drank a lot. But then again, 31 days before, I would have been the ringleader…

So, I knew I had to go to the “party” (but I would skip the pre- and after- ), and I knew I would have to stay for at least an hour. I was terrified. But, I went, and I resisted the urge to immediately scan the room to find the bar (some habits die hard). I walked around a bit and said hello to a few people. Finally, someone asked if I wanted to go get a drink. “Sure,” I said. My heart was beating outside of my chest, and when I approached the bar, I didn’t really know what to do. All of the alcoholic options were on display, but nothing else. “Um, do you have anything that doesn’t have alcohol?” I asked, my voice breaking. 

“Yep, we have sodas and water.”

“Oh, okay, any soda-water? Ha, ha…” The line behind me was getting thirsty, I could tell.

“No. We just have bottles of soda. Like pop. We have Pepsi, Sprite….”

“It’s fine, no worries, just a bottle of water, please!” 

I had done it.

The woman I was with said, “Don’t waste the drink tickets on water! There are coolers and cups everywhere. If you aren’t drinking, I’m sure someone would love the tickets!” She didn’t say it rudely, just matter-of-factly.

“Oh, okay, here you go…” And I handed her my two remaining tickets. “I’m not drinking right now; I have a race coming up.” (I was going to use my excuse whether I needed to or not!)

And that was that. My nerves loosened up, and I treated the rest of the night as, as Gray puts it, “an anthropological observation.” I found a guy who was also drinking water, and I chatted with him for a while. Finally, I felt comfortable enough conversing with people who were clearly on their way to getting good and drunk. It was interesting and also sad. I stayed for a little over an hour, and then rushed back to my room to call my boyfriend and tell him that I had survived.

So, what about the rest of you? What was your first time asking for a soft drink when everyone else was drinking? And, if you haven’t been there yet, what’s your plan?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

VI. The Booze-Free Body and Brain

I loved this section. Learning about how the brain works and seeing/feeling the physical changes in my body has been one of the best parts of my AF life. I liked that Gray used expert opinions here (particularly that of Dr. Marc Lewis – I think this was the final push I needed to finally read “The Biology of Desire”…).

The quote from Lewis and Gray’s analysis of it hit home for me. Lewis says, “Dopamine is the fuel of desire, not fun.” And Lewis further states, “Addicts are not having fun anymore. The fun broke long ago.” I feel like those two sentences sum it all up for me. I also think it’s why it is so hard for some people to conceptualize. For those who can use alcohol responsibly, it IS fun. They are not left with that nagging, paralyzing desire for more.

There is a lot of great information in this short chapter, and I would love to read anyone’s thoughts on any part of it, but my question for everyone is simple and mirrors the end of the section: What are your top “physical wins” of quitting? Gray lists ten, and I will put them here for a reference: cheeks; acne; hair; tanning; face; stomach; energy; nails; sleep. What about you? Do you agree with any of these, or can you add to the list?

Mine are easily face and stomach. I really hate looking back at pictures from my last six months or so as a drinker. My face is so bloated and red. It is very easy to see that something was wrong, but I looked in the mirror every day and didn’t notice. And, my stomach is one of the things that got me to Boom. I think my stomach finally overpowered my brain and said, “If you insist on continuing to do this, I’m going to do something about it!” I knew that my bowels were not right, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. It took that very real and physical evidence of internal impact to get me to finally recognize what I was doing to my one and only physical self.

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

VII. Dating & Sex

This was a short section, and admittedly one I did not take many notes on. When I quit drinking, I was already in a secure relationship, so I have no experience being in the dating world as an AF person. If you are in this situation, PLEASE share with us what that’s like.

However, the “sober sex” thing was a big deal to me, and I agree with Gray about a few things here. During my drinking years, I was promiscuous – both before and after my marriage. Drinking allowed me to slip into another persona. One that was wild, carefree, up for anything. And I was heavily drinking at the beginning of the relationship I am still in. So, I was very afraid that my newfound sobriety would bring with it a chastity that would be concerning to my partner.

I found that it wasn’t quite so black and white. One fear was dispelled early – I worried that I wouldn’t be as sexually attractive sober as I had been drunk. It turned out to be the exact opposite. My boyfriend (now husband) found only positives, so that was a relief. I also felt so damn good about myself, that I think my allure increased.

Another fear was that I wouldn’t be as adventurous. That was true, but also not true. I agree with Gray that sobriety increased my inhibitions. It took me a while to come out of the brain fog of my heavy drinking and separate my partner from past sexual relationships. Once I accepted that I had nothing to prove to him and that our sex life was an extension of the respect and trust we shared everywhere else, some of my inhibitions melted away, and it was MUCH better to be intentionally vulnerable in the bedroom than putting on a show. 

Also, I found out that I love cuddling and making out. I used to push these things to the side. I don’t know why… maybe they took too long (i.e. I would rather have drank that wasted time doing these things), or maybe they felt too exposed. Either way, I think sober kissing is one of my favorite discoveries.

One thing that has been harder, and is something I continue to work on, is that being drunk did quiet my internal monologue, which allowed me to be pretty present during sex. Without the numbing effects of alcohol, I find that sometimes, my mind wanders and I am merely going through the motions. As with every other area of my life, mindfulness is something I still have more room for growth.

I know that we all have different comfort levels when it comes to openly discussing sex, but I also know that this can be quite worrisome in the early days of being sober. Also, even though this section deals with “dating,” feel free to share how quitting drinking has affected your romantic relationships regardless of what stage they are in. I’m sure that those of you in long-term relationships have just as much to say about what you wonder about or how being AF has changed the way you interact.

What’s on your mind about how being AF affects dating, relationships, and sex?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

VIIi Rolling with the Punches without Drinking ( subplot- anxiety!)

We are nearing the end of our first BBC, and I will be moving through these last, short sections pretty quickly.

This one, though, is an important topic, and likely one that leads many of us to question our commitment to an AF life.

I can say, with absolute confidence, that I do have a “Life Beyond My Wildest Dreams.” So much so that I sometimes have “imposter syndrome” or find my mind wondering when everything will blow up. And even in sobriety, things blow up. But the difference is, I actually deal with them now.

By almost every measure, my life is unspeakably privileged. (Again, see “imposter syndrome” above.) However, there are also innumerable challenges. Most of them center around being a divorced parent who is remarried to another divorced parent who also works with her new husband. In all of the self-help books I have read, there is not one that focuses on this unique situation. Together, my spouse and I are trying to run a business in a highly competitive, immensely stressful field. Additionally, we are trying to raise three kids who only live with us half-time and with two other parents with whom we have high-conflict relationships. (And one of those children is a 14-year-old girl.)

I do all of the things that I am supposed to do. I work out, I meditate, I practice gratitude, I work on being mindful, I get enough sleep. But recently, I felt completely and totally stuck. My anxiety was at a 10/10, and I felt like I had no control over what I said or how I felt, and I could tell it was having a negative impact on my marriage, my relationship with the kids, and my work.

 At this point, I wasn’t at risk of using alcohol to numb my pain, but I felt very frustrated. I have so much to be thankful for – why can’t I see that and just “roll with the punches”?

So, I decided to go back to therapy, and along with my new therapist, I have decided to go back on an anti-anxiety medication (not like a fast-acting one, but one to hopefully help me long-term). Together, we identified some things that indicate this might be beneficial to help me manage these feelings. 

One of the things we discovered is my “anxiety timeline.” And, I guess this should have been obvious, but it wasn’t. He asked when I first noticed that I might have a concern with my mental health. I admitted that, although I wouldn’t have identified it at the time, I can now say that it would have been early adolescence – like around 12 or so. He then reflected back to me that I started drinking around 14. Yep. He also pointed out that I had been on these anti-anxiety medications in the past, and I agreed, that I had – shortly after the birth of my first daughter. He asked if I drank during my pregnancy. No. Okay, interesting. Then he pointed out that my really bad drinking slide happened after the birth of my second daughter (again, right after a period of not drinking).

So, I could see the correlation. Feel anxious, drink, feel anxious, drink, feel anxious, drink.

Like so many people here, once I quit drinking, my anxiety got SO much better. I felt like a new person. But, now, three years in, it has again become something I am struggling to manage on my own.

I have mixed emotions. There is a part of me that feels frustrated that I cannot feel more stable on my own. There is another part of me that is hopeful that a low-dose SSRI will help me elevate my other practices to continue to make progress on being more present and less overwhelmed. This is not a “pro” medication post – not even close. This is just a “pro” me post. To me, I am taking a big step by admitting I am struggling to manage this on my own. 

What about you? What has been something in your life that you used to manage with alcohol, and what new method(s) might you try instead?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

IX. Unplugging from the Alcohol Matrix

In this section, Gray gives a variety of examples of how we are brainwashed to see drinking as good and therefore we non-drinkers are “bad.” This topic is one that is near and dear to many of our hearts. 

I found her page on “Real Greeting Cards” to be eye-opening and true. I know that I have fewer options when looking for a card to send now that I don’t drink. 

This section made me think back to an ad I saw on TV a year ago or so. It was for a large beer company, and the theme behind it was “day drinking.” It showed a couple young-ish guys waking up and starting their day with beers. As with all alcohol advertising, this led to a hilarious and great day. I remember feeling so angry. That is not AT ALL what “day drinking” looks like. I wanted them to show its reality. Wake up in a cold sweat. Nervously check phone to make sure nothing terrible or embarrassing was sent last night. Go into the kitchen and clean remnants of last night’s binge. Check refrigerator. Empty. Pace floor while trying to decide if it’s too early to go buy alcohol. Decide it is not. Get keys and shoes and drive to liquor store. Hands shake and face reddens. Try to justify this decision – it’s the weekend; this is the last time; I’ll only drink a couple… Make transaction happen as quickly as possible. Look at phone while paying to not have to make eye contact with cashier. Feel immediate mix of relief and guilt as soon as the alcohol is in my possession. Get home, crack beer, sit on couch. 

As this messaging appears so often and so heavily, I sometimes feel numb or immune to it. But, I appreciate people’s efforts to call our attention to it. One small thing I do – anytime I am at a nice restaurant and I notice a NA beer or “mocktail” specifically called out on the drink menu, I order one. I want to make sure restaurant owners know that this effort is appreciated. Even though I sometimes hate spending the money when a plain water would do, to me, it’s a small sacrifice to help keep these options available.

I would like to hear examples of ways you have or are trying to “unplug” from the alcohol matrix.

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

X. Boozehounds Debunked

We are nearing the end!
This section is short, but has a couple of powerful messages. The first is dispelling the myths associated with “boozehounds.” My favorite is:

MYTH: Sober people are straight-edge cowards

REALITY: Sober people are rebellious non-conformers

Hell yes! Accepting this reality was one of the major turning points in my AF journey. I spent a lot of time in the first year or so feeling like I had lost my edge. I struggled to figure out who I was if I wasn’t the hard-drinking / up-for-anything / drink-you-under-the-table / sneak-in-drinks-everywhere “party-girl.”

Once I lost the fear of being “boring” and embraced that I was still a “badass,” I felt a renewed joy in choosing to live life without alcohol. I now find myself actively telling people that I don’t drink; I am able to listen to people talk about drinking without feeling jealousy or shame; I have a much different picture of myself in my head – a unicorn instead of an ogre!

I also liked the section on “Sober Heroes” – I love to learn about famous people who are actively AF. But I also tread lightly as it can be triggering to learn that a famous sober hero has returned to drinking. One of my long-term sober heroes is Rob Lowe. I first learned about his sobriety 10 years ago when I read his memoir “Stories I Only Tell My Friends.” When I read it, I was FAR from considering any aspect of an AF life. The book was hilarious, and he does wonderful impressions of his famous friends in the 1980s in Hollywood, so it was really fun to listen to as an audiobook. But when I finished, what stayed with me was that Lowe was unabashedly sober. At that point in my life, I was still under the illusion that everyone drank and that certainly everyone “cool” drank. It was incredible to me that this guy seemed happy to not drink. I just couldn’t wrap my head around that.

I would love to hear about what “myths” about non-drinkers you want to dispel! And/or, if you have a sober hero, nominate them here!

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

XI. Choose Your Own Sober Adventure

Thanks to everyone who has joined the conversation! Our next book will be The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley.

But, to close The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, Gray saved the best for last. This final section was beautiful. I could write for days about the contents (and I might use it for future inspiration). For those of you not reading, Gray fills the pages with small musings on a lot of topics. Things like:

Choose your own way…

Choose your own tribe…

Choose not to drink…

Choose your own label…

Choose your own time frame…

She also reveals some of the realities about going alcohol-free:

Sober is 95% exquisite, 5% savage…

Moderation is a mirage…

And then she closes with the beauty. And my favorite part is this – “The Dread Pit – Hope is by far the biggest gift being sober has given me. An unnamed dread sat in the pit of my stomach…It took a few months of sobriety for the dread to depart, but eventually it was replaced by a tiny spark, then a flame, then a blaze of hope for the future.”

Me, too.

What has being AF given to you?

You can join the conversation in our Boom Community Book Club here

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