Women’s Month is a month of appreciation for all the roles women fulfil. Mother, sister, carer, wife, leader, etc. For me, it’s a month of reflection- being sober made me realise that as a wife, a mom and a friend, I am able to give more in my relationships at a lesser cost. Being sober means that it doesn’t take as much work and sacrifice to do everything compared to when I was drinking, recovering from drinking and still trying to do everything.”
These are the wise words of Lindy, a member of Tribe Sober who has been sober way over two years now and is reaping the many benefits.
Why Celebrate Women?
August is women’s month in South Africa and March is the international version of this major calendar event. Why should the world celebrate women? Why should South Africa celebrate women? Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th as it has strong connections to the women’s movements during the Russian Revolution (1917).
The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February 1908 when the garment workers went on strike in New York against their poor working conditions. Then, in 1910, women wanted to vote and so set up Women’s Day there to get equal rights to do so. Many women later used International Women’s Day to protest World War I.
In South Africa, on 9 August 1956, about 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas. They were against the passbook system and they bravely marched to protest it. I believe that it is vital that our society remembers this day and pays tribute to these brave women who paved the way to better conditions for their gender in South Africa. It is therefore extremely sad that so many women suffer daily at the hands of men.
Sober in 2023 – Women are Wonderful!
I asked our Tribe Sober Platinum members (who have been sober for two years and more) what it means to them to be a SOBER woman in 2023…
For Irene, it simply means “unf*cking myself and having my sh*t together. Not quite the appropriate catchphrase, but just about covers it.” I love her humorous honesty which is reinforced by Sue who claims that for her, 2023 as a “strong sober single 64-year old sober Queen brings new opportunities to learn and grow. I have found my purpose with Tribe Sober giving back and helping others on their sober journey.”
I find this truly heartwarming as I too have learned that being sober opens up many doors to help others in life, to be sober or just to be valued in their particular roles, male or female.
For many women, the way we were brought up by our parents did make us who we are today, in many respects. For Geozel, it was a different childhood as her mom had no interest in home baking, cooking and caring. She rebelled against these womanly things as an arty free spirit growing up in her own conservative times. She also got married and had her kids very young.
But for Geozel, “it created a warped idea of what I wanted to be and what I thought it meant to be a modern woman. It took me years to understand that I could be my own person AND enjoy and embrace creating a warm home environment, enjoy cooking and cleaning,” she acknowledges. “I love cooking for friends and family, and I love creating a loving and warm environment with a peaceful atmosphere. I love having bonds with women, I feel like there’s a certain camaraderie between women that men miss out on. I feel sorry for them, but I love that we have that.”
Being a Sober Woman is Personal
Being a sober woman in 2023 is indeed a very personal thing but for Jane, it is about being able to “clear the fog and clear the old perceptions handed down through the generations.” She says that she is “deeply rooted within myself, I love myself and feel inspired and empowered to live my best life. Sobriety is freedom, the breaking of restraint.” Wow, Jane such powerful words because I for one know that loving oneself takes years of practice!
Another Tribe Sober member says that being sober as a woman in 2023 is being present and her motto is “There is no such thing as failure, only delayed success.” I agree with that one, and we can reach our own levels of success, no matter what they are! Some women love being housewives, others love to be corporate CEOs and run their own companies! Some women can run one kilometre, others are doing the Iron Woman!
“Society is harsh on women, expecting them to live up to certain standards. I’m adjusting to getting comfortable in my own skin, (and mind) in what I do, whether it’s in or out of my comfort zone, is for me,” confirms Michelle.
Lucy is very secure in her sobriety and has this to say,” For me, being a sober woman is about being kind, firstly to myself and then to others. For forgiving myself for being hard on myself in the past and loving me, imperfections and all, as I am now. It’s about living in, and enjoying the moment, and giving thanks for the many blessings I have. It’s saying no to things I don’t want to do without reasons or guilt, and saying yes to things that scare me a little. When I first stopped drinking I thought my life would be over, if only I’d known then that my life had only just begun!”
According to an article recently in the high society Vogue Magazine, “sobriety is quickly becoming the new social trend, as many people choose to avoid alcohol and other substances. More and more individuals recognize the benefits of leading a sober life. This includes improved physical health, mental clarity, and enhanced productivity. The decision to choose sobriety can be difficult for some. Yet, taking that leap of faith can also open up an entire world of possibilities. Whether seeking a break from drinking for a short time or looking at living sober for the rest of your life, you are part of an ever-growing movement that values clear-mindedness and self-care over substance use.”
It was written by a sober woman who knows that the opposite of addiction is connection and that getting sober is hard work within the judging culture of the modern age. But if sobriety comes into fashion, more women will stop drinking, with hope, and there will be less stigma attached to both drinking too much and stopping drinking, as a woman.
In another pertinent Vogue article, CJ Thurlow goes sober for a year and has this to say:
Sobriety tears you open and leaves you open. That is the simplest way I can explain it. There is no escape hatch, nowhere to run and hide. You take all the stabilizers off your life. There is nothing to hold onto because this is deeply internal work, and you have to turn up every day. The work begins with one simple, seismic instruction: do not drink. But beneath that is a cavern in which lifelong questions reverberate, bellowing for answers.
Everything suppressed rises to the surface. Everything you’ve ever pushed down, ignored, batted away, held off facing, comes to party. It’s now your job to scrutinize these pain-phantoms as they present themselves. You are being given a chance to exorcise them for good. What remains in their wake is an entirely new understanding of the world. It’s like a yearlong gut punch, but somehow, doubled over, you are beginning to smile.
How apt! She notes that she became unstuck when she stopped drinking. She could kickstart her life all over again and find it new and exciting again. She was no longer just going through the motions of life but she was in the face of it, feeling everything there is to feel and loving every scary moment too! She decided to fix herself emotionally after realising that she came from a family of hidden issues and anxieties so she started to mend all the despair and turn it into hope.
In case you missed it, International Women’s Day was on 8 March and this year it celebrated equity. For sober women, this would mean being accepted as a non-drinker in a drinking society. This would mean being able to ditch the guilt and shame of those drinking days and to stand up and be counted as an individual with value to society. On International Women’s Day, the theme was embracing an inclusive world, being included and cultivating a sense of belonging:
“When we embrace equity, we embrace diversity, and we embrace inclusion.
We embrace equity to forge harmony and unity, and to help drive success for all.
Equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there.
Through the process of equity, we can reach equality.”
South Africa’s Women’s Day falls on 9 August. “Every year, in August, our country marks Women’s Month. We also pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. A system meant to control women even further and reduce women to passive beings, at the mercy of men.”
The theme for 2023 is “Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women’s Improved Resilience”. The concept of Generation Equality is a global campaign and links South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Let’s end with a great quote: “Being a sober woman in 2023 is creating a brave new path to walk, with each step a journey in returning to my true self, and gently inviting more and more women to hold hands and join this pilgrimage.” Amen.