Locked and loaded: sober in lockdown
Updated: Apr 19
Ocean Hills Rehab & Detox Rehab staffer, Hawke's Bay
How many times can I think to myself, I love not having a hangover.
Oh that's right, every time I open my eyes in the morning after going to bed sober the night before.
There's nothing new in my cherished non-hangover existence but I have a replenished sense of gratitude for it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the country was preparing for lockdown and liquor stores were not deemed essential services, I witnessed the panic-buying of alcohol from the local liquor shop. People with furrowed, determined brows heaved around boxes of booze, hoisting them into cars, only to go back for more before the shop shut for the forseeable future.
Every time I have been to the supermarket – an eerie experience with my usually laid-back and friendly community members wearing masks and avoiding eye contact – I see people with their trolleys clanking with bottles and bottles of wine and towering with boxes of beer.
Those people, desperate to feed their addictions during a time of national emergency, were doing just what I would have done. If they are going to be locked up, they might as well be loaded, right?
My story would continue along these lines: the first week would have been a party, albeit a Zoom one, when I felt like people to drink (virtually) with. All my old party playlists would come out, the neighbours would be woken up and I'd be trying to get them to dance with me from over the fence. The fun we would have had into the night, without a care of having to get up early for work the next day...
The great times would likely skid to a halt around the third or fourth hangover, where the grim reality of the situation would kick in: the economy shattered, my family falling apart due to my inebriation, my finances perilous and the future looking hazy and decidedly grey. Not easy to buck up your mood and rebuild a life when you're hungover, depressed, anxious and shaky.
Many partygoers might well put a brake on the boozing at this point, but not me. I would have continued on, bravely trying to catch a buzz, drinking alone, while sinking further into the black hole of addiction. Waking at 4am, full of nameless fears, shaking and swearing I would swear not to touch a drop ever again ... until later that day when I couldn't see the point of being miserable any longer. Why not have a drink? I deserve it.
As a sober woman, I am still in lockdown as I write this. My freedom is curtailed, my civil rights have been temporarily clipped and my future is undefined. But I am so pleased today to claim my inner freedom – a freedom from self that can only be claimed when the chains of addiction have been broken.
Freedom is sobriety, and today, I'm going to love it like nothing else.