Choosing Sobriety

a : sparing in the use of food and drink : abstemious b : not addicted to intoxicating drink c : not drunkThe word ‘sober’ and I have an interesting relationship. Sobriety, it seems to me, is an after effect of a bout of alcoholism or substance abuse. What then do you call someone who has never drunk alcohol or battled other forms of substance abuse?

I started thinking about this recently because I was reading a thread on Reddit about sobriety.  The thread was from someone who had never drunk alcohol because they felt that they were predisposed to alcoholic through family history. Many commenters challenged this position saying that “How can you know if you have never tried it?” This had me thinking about my own relationship with alcohol.

At 31, I have never had a drink of alcohol. When people ask me why I don’t drink, I often point to my Muslim faith as my reason. However, I feel like for me that is sort of cop-out from telling people my story. The truth is I don’t drink because one of the things I learned really early about eating disorders is the co-relation to substance abuse.

I can trace back my eating disorder to the age of thirteen while living in Lagos. Thinking back now, I truly started recovering from my eating disorder in
my twenties. Of course, in my teens, I had moments when the eating disorder released it grips on me. Then, I would have a relapse. It was both an emotional and physical rollercoaster. It was in my late twenties when I really got to a place mentally that I could break that cycle and really focus on nourishing my body.

During this whole eating disorder battle, I chose not to drink because I realized instinctively that if I drank, I had the pre-conditions in place to become an addict. Why? Part of my deep struggle with my eating disorder included depression. There were times when I felt so low that I would have given anything not to feel that way. I would have turned to alcohol or any other substance to help fill the void of feeling lonely and dejected. Even when I wanted to escape feeling lost, I knew I wanted to do in a way that led me to health. I did not one to trade one struggle for another.

I choose to be sober because I recognize that part of living a healthy life means feeling painI choose to be sober because I recognize that part of living a healthy life means feeling pain. There are days when I feel so low now and I sit with my pain. I name my pain and sit with it. Part of my process includes nurturing my body, my mind, and spirit. By embracing my pain, I embrace my humanity.

Certainly, many people might challenge the choice for me to say I am sober. I can also confirm a level of awkwardness that comes with using the word ‘sober’ to describe myself. However, it is clear to me that I need to stop dismissing my conscious choice not to drink alcohol or abuse substances. While many people can make the decision to imbibe and have a good relationship with alcohol, recognizing the potential pitfall in making such a choice is worthy of acknowledgment on my part.


Small Wins

Success is a culmination of small momentsThis weekend was amazing. Last week was a rough week for me. Between so many microaggressions and getting stuck in traffic on Friday, I was ready for the week to be over. Then Saturday happened, and I felt slightly better about the whole week.

A few years ago, when I first moved to Boston, I remember telling someone that I wanted to get to a point where I could have friends over for a meal. I had never had that before. I am sure when I was thinking about this five years ago I meant having my apartment and all.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t live in an apartment by myself. I share an apartment with five other girls. Luckily, our apartment is on two floors with many rooms, so it does not even feel like there are that many people living here on most days. I also appreciate being able to have conversations with people when I am home.

This weekend, I finally got to invite a friend over for lunch/dinner. I cooked a rather simple meal (simple for me), and we parked ourselves on the balcony for a long conversation. Molly is a friend that I used to work with, and it is always good to catch up. Later after she left, I realized that the lunch with her in my apartment was a dream come true moment for me.

it has allowed me to refocus my energy from a place of disappointment to a place of gratitudeMany times I get so caught up in my “failures.” Recently, it has been about not setting my financial life up correctly, not having a career, feeling as if I am getting left behind by others my age. I feel like I am not where I should be at this stage in life. My mother likes to remind me that I am accomplished in my own right. Even when I fail to see that, I remember the words of my parents telling me how proud they are of me and my successes in life.

Being able to see this small win this week is big for me. It has allowed me to refocus my energy from a place of disappointment to a place of gratitude. This shift is special because there so many small things happening at the moment that have the potential to change my big picture. It is only when I take a step back and take them in that I can see the progress I am making in life.

Life is never really about just making it one day. No matter how talented one is, any form of success is usually a culmination of small moments. Hosting a friend for lunch this week was my small moment of success. I am grateful for it. I am glad that I am present enough to see it.

And I am ready for more.

The Quit Queen


being courageous is a form of discipline

Friday 6th July 2018

It is 11.07pm. I really should go to bed since I have a full day tomorrow. I have spent the last couple of hours in front of my computer. Between reading my usual roster of gossip magazine online, I have been tinkering with the blog. I love the current look I have. It is intentionally minimalist. I plan to bring the color with the pictures. I have been tinkering because it just did not look right. The photo sizes were not coming up the way they did on the demo.

I go back to the theme documentation. I try to read it again. Try not to skip through anything. I am not really technical, so I have to find the way I am supposed to set up the theme. There is no winging it. Then I realize the page I had ignored because I thought it was related just to static homepage was the key. Very typical. Then I tinker again, and it looks just right. I am happy.

Afraid of SuccessI am happy just for a moment before the self-doubt creeps in again. What if I do all this work and nobody reads it? What if all the time and money investment I am making into building this blog was a waste? What if I can’t keep up with posting pictures on Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook? Why don’t I just quit now? Afterall, I have quit a million times before. Read my about page. I am the queen of starting and abandoning blogs. I have no patience.

Then I quickly read another gossip page to calm my nerve and all the doubts. Then I realize something about me. I am more scared of success than I am of failure. It is really that simple. My greatest fear in life is succeeding. I know how to create ideas. I know how to develop concepts. The art of doing a brainstorm is second nature to me. I know how to write. I don’t know how to follow through.

My post on making Peach Lavender Lemonade scared me. I won’t lie. It really scared me because it showed me what I am capable of doing if I commit to the work. I can create beautiful recipes. Taking pictures is not my greatest strength but if I am patient, the settings would click and I would get something beautiful. So, I know I have the minimum required skills to write a good blog about food and style and all the things my heart wants to create.

I just lack the courage. Courage to know that going would be slow and the road long. The courage to validate my own work even when no one else sees it. Courage to redefine success away from accolades and focus on contentment. I lack the courage to understand that showing up is a form of success. Courage demands doing what needs to be done even when nothing else makes sense.

This form of discipline is what I lack. This is perhaps the most important skill I need to learn if I want to break my cycle of failing. I need to be courageous and keep showing up even when it seems no one sees or hears me.