Sobriety has many different definitions. The Webster dictionary only lists one definition, but everybody knows that a street survey, coordinated by undergrads, is more reliable than the Webster dictionary. I haven’t ever seen a street survey focused on the definition of sobriety but I have in some ways, been taking my own personal survey on sobriety since I was eight years old.
There were times in my life when a drug test could prove my sobriety, my pee was more trustworthy than my word when it came down to the judgment of my parents. Although I knew, whether it said I passed or failed, I knew I had failed. Coke didn’t show up on tests as long as it had been a week, my extreme abuse of random prescription drugs or OTC pills wouldn’t show up on their silly little pee sticks. In some way it made me feel more justified, them trying to prove I abused drugs & me, being so good at hiding it.
Sophomore year of high school I was becoming more & more confident, hiding inside my sobriety shadow. Nobody ever suspected I did drugs, they thought I was weird, or lazy. But not someone who was taking opiates and prescription pain pills daily. During first period one day the teacher stepped out of the class and the 12 Triple C’s I had for breakfast were starting to dissolve in my stomach acid. I had been glaring down our tiny classroom trash can for what felt like hours. I finally had the courage, or maybe the lack of self awareness, to crawl and sit at the trash can. With my legs wrapped around it I started to throw up. The classmate sitting at his desk next to me was one of the few people to notice. He helped tie up my hair & brought me some napkins along with a water bottle. I don’t know if I was conscious enough to thank him but I hope I was. When the teacher came back I had already dragged myself back to my seat and was laying my head down. Before he dismissed the class he made a point to ask me if I was okay. My eyes bloodshot, face pale as snow and shaking, I replied with some lame excuse about having a bad breakfast. I could tell he didn’t believe me, but that teacher liked me & I knew I had gotten away with it.
Junior year started off strong, I was determined to be sober, get good grades and prove my parents wrong. I don’t remember what happened, but one day I was home alone getting ready to take a bath, looking under my parents sink when I found my dads black bag. This bag was infamous & the whole family knew exactly what was in it. All his prescription pain medicine from when his back was broken. Including some pills that were prescribed to many other family members. Without even opening the bag I squealed with excitement, My whole week had just changed. I ditched the bath and spent the rest of my night researching every single pill I found in that bag. I planned which days I would take certain ones & lined up the perfect high for my schedule. A days I had English & history so those were the days I could take the stronger pills. B days I had Math & Science, I reserved the pills I wasn’t sure about for B days. Of course I couldn’t be high at home, because that would blow my cover & not only would I be in trouble but I would have to acknowledge I was doing the wrong thing, & that was almost worse.
It was a B day & I took this pill that fell into a weird drug class, it was an anti anxiety pill as well as an anti nausea medicine. In my mind I thought that made it safe to take without any food. I went about four hours on an empty stomach feeling a slight effect, like I was stoned without being tired. As soon as I walked into the cafeteria I was starving, but my legs started to feel weak & the thought of standing in a lunch line was making me feel sick. I grabbed a bag of hot Cheetos from the vending machine and ate the whole bag in less than 2 minutes. For a while I felt better, renewed, like I could go to class, take a nap & before I knew it the school day would be over. I slept through about 30 minutes of my human development class when the teacher decided we would change the seating chart. She asked everybody to grab their belongings and line up against the wall. Standing there my legs started to shake beneath me, I thought I was going to fall over but before I did, I had to throw up. My eyes darted across the room, as the teacher rambled on. A specialized water bottle with somebody’s initials monogrammed on it, stared back at me. I lunged for the water bottle and threw up the perfect amount to be able to put the lid back on. Nobody saw, not even the girl whose water bottle it was. I waited till the teacher was done talking & raised my hand. “Um I threw up” I said, holding out the water bottle with red & clear chunks. I’ve blocked out the majority of what happens next. I remember crying in the nurse’s office & I didn’t know why I was crying but I couldn’t stop. My mom came to pick me up & we rode home in silence. I sat down on the couch & she asked if I was okay, if I knew why I threw up & if I needed anything. I think all her questions overwhelmed me because all I could say was “No” before bursting into sobs. She sat next to me & held my head in her lap while I sobbed until I fell asleep. When she tried to leave me to pick up my sister I cried begging her to not leave me alone. Once we arrived at the school I opened the car door to throw up one more time. When I sat back & used my sleeve to wipe off my mouth, my mother & I looked at each other & laughed.
After that day, I thought there’s no way my mom can think I’m sober. Maybe her definition of sober is different.