How Sober Life Became Jubilant for Me

In the online community that I host to help people reach their goals of stopping drinking or cutting down on alcohol, we have a theme every month to give the year some structure. A sober life can be a daunting thing to imagine. Most people who are new to living life alcohol-free like to have shorter-term goals than Sober Forever. So we start the year with Dry January, then A Tuned in February, A Momentous March, An Alcohol-free April, A Marvelous May, and right now we are enjoying A Jubilant June.

A Jubilant June? When you first cut alcohol out of your daily routine jubilance is not likely the emotion that comes to mind. Trepidation, frustration, sorrow, fear … an overall sense of discomfort and loss… these feelings are more likely what people feel in their first weeks sober. When you first stop drinking, jubilance and joy are emotions that may need a bit of prodding to rise to the surface.

If you are struggling with depression or a general feeling of “meh” in early sobriety please do read up on anhedonia – EMOTIONAL FLATLINING: HOW TO DEAL WITH ANHEDONIA

When I think of the word jubilant the first thing that comes to mind is music. I spent most of my life playing one of these horns down below and it was most definitely a jubilant kind of experience – most of the time ..

Sharing music was something I did a lot of in the online community that helped me stop drinking. I found in my early days alcohol-free that actually listening to the music I spent my days rehearsing and performing, listening to it in my kitchen while cooking, in my living room while cleaning, and in the evening when that empty gaping hole would open in my soul because the wine reservoir was empty – listening to the music I loved got me through all of the emotional ups and downs of my newly alcohol-free days.

During the most difficult years of my life, like after my brother died when I was 17, it was listening to music that got me through. Music takes you out of your head and into your heart and soul. It can focus your energy when you’re working, bring you up when you’re down, and calm you when you’re wracked with anxiety.

My need for music took me by surprise when I stopped drinking. Without my world revolving around alcohol I was a fish out of water as to how to live life. Living sober? How?

Drinking had been an activity that filled my days even when I wasn’t drinking. I was so used to the stress of recovering from drinking the night before, the push and pull that started in the early afternoon of planning to drink even though I’d promised that morning to never drink again, and then the activity of actually drinking which was all-consuming once it started, that when all that activity was taken away I was at a loss as to how to move through my day. 

So I would brew some coffee in the morning and turn on this to get me going 

and then to keep myself flowing along I’d put this on 

and somehow the mundane stuff of the day would just kind of feel much lighter.

Having the music playing throughout my day as I went from activity to activity was like walking meditation. It took me out of my head while I was doing all of that fussy stuff we all have to do during the day, stuff that I used to look forward to drinking during or after. It was a long time before I fully got over the lure of drinking as a reward for surviving the mundane and monotonous bits of life but music exalted the mundane for me so that I didn’t feel the NEED for a reward.

In the afternoon, the time that many of us refer to as the witching hour when it’s so hard not to reach for a drink to unwind, I’d listen to my daughter practicing this and it was such a lovely meditative sort of peace that I could float away on – 

And in the evening when I sometimes felt such sorrow — inexplicable sorrow really — sorrow at the loss, at the emptiness – this would soothe me 

and sometimes it would help me cry 

The intensity …

I had tried to filter the intensity of my life through wine but that did not work well for me in the end 

So when I put down the wine I turned on the music and let my feeling be filtered through it 

It gave me the energy I needed to be brave 

There is a wonderful quote from Glennon Doyle about early sobriety in her book Untamed :

“We can do hard things” becomes my hourly life mantra. It is my
affirmation that living life on life’s own absurd terms is hard. It isn’t
hard because I’m weak or flawed or because I made a wrong turn
somewhere, it is hard because life is just hard for humans and I am a
human who is finally doing life right. “We can do hard things” insists
that I can, and should, stay in the hard because there is some kind of
reward for staying. I don’t know what the reward is yet, but it feels
true that there would be one, and I want to find out what it is. I am
especially comforted by the We part. I don’t know who the We is; I just
need to believe that there is a We somewhere, either helping me
through my hard things or doing their own hard things while I do
This is how I survive early sobriety, which turns out to be one long
Return of the Ache. I say to myself every few minutes: This is hard. We
can do hard things. And then I do them.

Somewhere around week 5 alcohol-free, I heard this recording for the first time 

I’d never heard it before and I don’t think I’d ever heard KD Lang.  

But that became my sober life theme song.

That song became the expression of where I was at 5 weeks sober. I was so absolutely stunningly grindingly grateful in a fall-to-your-knees gritty kind of exalted sort of way that could only be felt not explained — and I still feel it when I hear that song. It brings back the JUBILANCE I felt at being free.


I’m over 8 years sober now and I still love music but I stopped listening in this way years ago.  I stopped needing the music as a tool in my sober toolbox that helped me remember how to process emotion and how to get out of my head. It was crucial to me then – to get to the place where I could FEEL my beautiful life rather than hide from the intensity of it all.

So when I think of A Jubilant June I think of the music that was maybe the most important tool in my sober toolbox.

You CAN do it 

You can! 

I hope you’ll join me alcohol-free today 

It’s about this! 

If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us

We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using

More Tools for your Sober Toolbox

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense: Keeping Your Sober Toolbox Full


If you’d like to join us this month we’re discussing Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed in our Boom Rethink the Drink Community Book Club.

These are thoughts excerpted from Untamed that describe perfectly what finding the Jubilance in a sober life is all about for me.

Break the Status Quo. Imagine different!

The norms were created by somebody, and each of us is somebody. We can make our own normal. We can throw out all the rules and write our own. We can build our lives from the inside out. We can stop asking what the world wants from us and instead ask ourselves what we want for our world. We can stop looking at what’s in front of us long enough to discover what’s inside us. We can remember and unleash the life-changing, relationship-changing, world-changing power of our own imagination. It might take us a lifetime. Luckily, a lifetime is exactly how long we have.

Let’s conjure up, from the depths of our souls: The truest, most beautiful lives we can imagine. The truest, most beautiful families we can fathom. The truest, most beautiful world we can hope for. Let’s put it all on paper. Let’s look at what we’ve written and decide that these are not pipe dreams; these are our marching orders. These are the blueprints for our lives, our families, and the world.

May the invisible order become visible.

May our dreams become our plans.


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

Sober Diaries – A Boom Community Book Club Selection

Blackout – A Boom Community Book Club Selection

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

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