I’ve been a bartender, at least part time since I was 17. That’s 21 years, if your doing the math. For as many years as you need to have lived to legally consume alcohol, I have been mixing and serving it up to the general public. I’ve worked in the hood, on a mega yacht, in a dive bar, and at prestigious country club. I can definitely say I AM a bartender. And I love it! There’s so many incredible connections and friendships that I have cultivated through these bartending jobs. The kind of friends that, even if you haven’t seen them in months, will come rescue you when your stuck on the side of the side of the road at 2am. These people got me through some difficult times in my life. Transition periods, the part where you don’t know what to do… these friends were right there with a shoulder to cry on and a couch to crash on.
This summer was my first time bartending sober. I didn’t think twice when I started applying and interviewing at different places. I love this job. I’m good at it and it’s fun! I didn’t think twice until a very wise and sober friend asked me “Aren’t you worried that being around alcohol, and serving alcohol will be a trigger for you?” I didn’t even consider that. In fact, I was so new at this “sober thing” that I had no IDEA what my triggers were! What if I was asked to try the wines so I could explain the difference between a full bodied Merlot and a light, buttery Chardonnay to a guest? What if I had to sample the beer selection so I know exactly what “hoppy” means! What if the temptation to pour myself a drink was too strong? And I failed?
Slow your roll girl. Let’s think about this. For 21 years I have stood behind that bar and poured drinks, popped beers and blended cocktails without abusing alcohol while I did. Not to say I NEVER drank behind the bar, for many of those years a couple shift drinks at the end of the night was the norm. But one had nothing to do with the other. Serving, pouring, mixing. Those things are part of a job. Sitting on the other side, drinking. That’s a different place for me. And somehow the two don’t seem so close in my mind. But that’s me.
I prepared myself for the feels. It’s not unheard of for those babies to sneak up on you. Was I a little jealous that Angry Orchard decided to come out with their Rosé flavor after I got sober? Absolutely! Was I envious of all those lucky ladies enjoying wine flights at my bar? You bet! Was I mad? No. I was envious. Jealous that they COULD enjoy alcohol and I couldn’t. They could control it, instead of allowing it to control them. But I couldn’t. But I own that. I could drink if I wanted…. but I choose not to. This is my choice.
You have to own it. The good the bad and the ugly. All of it. Because the moment you play the victim and blame someone or something else, you will lose. This is my choice. I have to own it. I choose to live sober. No one made me do this. I did this because I want to be better, do better. It’s like the person on a diet watching someone enjoy cake. For a moment you are sooooo jealous and then you remember you have a goal that’s more important to you than a few moments of delicious decadence! Ughhhh but whipped cream frosting is amazing! I feel ya.
Empowerment comes when you own your circumstances and stop playing the victim. When you realize you have complete control, when you truly believe that, everything becomes easier. I’m strong enough and have enough discipline to be surrounded by the thing I can’t control and stare it down. I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I’m so grateful for that strength. I never take it for granted and I know it’s something I need to work on daily. Like a body builder with a goal, we work that much harder everyday! If we stop working, those muscles slowly get weaker. Then before you know it your back to where you started. Weak. Don’t let YOU (or anyone else) tell you that you can’t do something.
You are strong 💪🏼 And so am I. 😊