Ask Anahit: Sober as a Judge

In April's advice column, one reader asks how they can talk about their new drinking ban without being annoying

Feature by Anahit Behrooz | 13 May 2024
  • Ask Anahit

I’ve recently stopped drinking and have on the whole been loving it – it’s hard but it’s made my life better. But I feel so smug & sanctimonious when I’m talking about it, which is often because I find it motivates me to keep going. How do I share my new improved life without sounding like a dick?

I don’t know how many times I can play the Iran card before it becomes truly annoying (hey, maybe we’re not so different, you and I!), but coming from a country where drinking and drugs are framed entirely through morality and the carceral state, I am super wary of any kind of puritanical approach to sobriety. I’m not saying you’re doing this (hey, I don’t know you!) but I guess the way you’re framing it as smug and sanctimonious in your mind, even if it’s more a fear of being those things, makes me wonder what your relationship to your sobriety is. Does it come from a deeply personal, this-is-what-works-for-me kind of place? Or do you deep down believe that it is a better way of life, and maybe something that other people will benefit from?

It’s tricky because – again! – I don’t know you, so I don’t know if this has been a hard-won victory and it’s entirely natural to want to be proud of it. But that pride has to be tethered to your own personal journey rather than pride at having discovered a more transcendent way of life that others just aren’t enlightened enough to get. Let me put it this way: would you keep bringing this up about something different? I go to the gym (lmao) and every few months I might be like, 'isn’t it crazy how I have the hint of a bicep and my back doesn’t hurt anymore', but I don’t bring it up every week. And if someone was super into drinking and doing drugs, if they kept bringing it up it would be deeply loser behaviour. I don’t know… I don’t want to be like, maybe we should all just shut the fuck up, but maybe we do need to tread the line between sharing our selves with our friends and being the main character of their lives. Maybe try and let the Diet Pepsi speak for itself a little bit? And when you do bring it up, make sure it is – really and truly – just about you.

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