Today’s blog entry is from Justine.  Justine has been a member of Café RE since November 2023.  She can be found supporting her fellow Café RE UP members and on the Café RE chats.

Sobriety, Stigmas and Smiles

By:  Justine (Café RE UP)


As I sit here today, I am 2 years and 11 months sober.  A few months ago, I decided to tackle the daunting task of beginning to date again.  As if dating in your thirties isn’t hard enough, I am one of the chosen ones who must add “alcoholic” to my resume. I know some people choose not to embrace that label.  When I first started my sober journey, I wouldn’t be caught dead calling myself an alcoholic.

But where I stand today, I say it purposefully.
I want anyone I tell that to to know that if they ever see me drinking, there is a serious problem.
Just another way to keep myself accountable.


Anyway, I digress. The point is, when I decided to date, I knew that I would have to share the part of my past I so desire to change, my alcoholism. It is something I bring up in the first conversation.  I began seeing someone exclusively for the past five weeks.  A few days ago, he let me know that he could no longer do it because it weighed too heavily on his mind to know that if I were to relapse, he could never support me through it.  Phew! As an outsider, you’re probably thinking I dodged a bullet.  And deep down, I know that I did.


Here is the thing. My first reaction was that of sickness. What a punch to the gut to know that something I have worked so hard to change about myself can STILL stand in the way of my happiness.  For the last 1,072 days, I have woken up and made the incredibly difficult choice to remain sober. 


If I could go back and re-write my past, I would do it in a heartbeat;  But I can’t.  My past is the one thing I will never be able to change.  This experience served to remind me that the stigma of alcoholism still exists so prevalently in our society.  It felt like someone was telling me that I will forever be undeserving of (their) love because I am an alcoholic. That no matter the length of time I have away from the bottle, there will always be someone there to remind me, “But hey, you might relapse.” 


I’ve been reflecting a lot on coming up on three years of sustained sobriety.  I’ve shared in a few evening groups about how difficult it feels to have achieved so little in what seems like so much time. In the Café RE community chat today,  I listened while others reflected on change within sobriety.  I changed a lot in the beginning.  My appearance, my career, my location.  Still, I am not where I want to be.  The truth of the matter is, it took me more than a decade to ruin these parts of my life.  So, I’m not sure why I have the audacity to think I can rebuild it in just three short years.


Instead of dwelling on what I don’t yet have, I started to reflect on what I do have.

  • I have two sisters who love and support me unconditionally, who understand and are always willing to lend an ear.
  • I have my health and the ability to run long distances with relative ease.
  • I have perspective on my problems.
  • I have coping mechanisms other than alcohol to deal with those problems.
  • I have the ability to be present in the moment and a proper role model for my nieces.
  • I have two fur babies who provide me with the most comfort I have ever felt.
  • I have a job that pays me.
  • I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear and the ability to order off Amazon a few too many times per month.

I have my personality and most importantly, I have my smile back.


In active addiction, I did not have many of those things I just mentioned. When I write it all out, how foolish it is to think that I haven’t achieved much in sobriety! Here is my reminder to you. If you are struggling with the “why” and want to take the easy way out, write down all the things you might lose again. Despite not yet being completely “fixed”, I would never in a million years wish to go back to my old life.  I want to take a second to thank everyone in the Recovery Elevator community for being a part of my journey. At the beginning, I was most definitely a dry drunk.

If I could start over and do one thing differently, it would have been to join a community sooner. What great perspectives I gain every day from every single share. Here’s to many more years of sobriety and smiles. 

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