Sober in The Big Apple

In the Fall of 2014, I was living in The Woodlands, Texas and I gave up drinking for three months.  It was relatively simple; I just chose other activities instead of going out.  I soon got bored of sobriety and eventually went back to dating Jack Daniels.

Fast forward to Winter 2015, I’m living in New York City and I’ve committed to giving up booze for a full year.  The first three weeks were great because sobriety was fun and new.   Now, reality has set in and it’s pretty rough.  I’ve been sober for seven weeks and I’m struggling.  I’m struggling pretty damn bad, actually.  Abstaining from alcohol is easy.  I have no problem saying no to a drink or avoiding social gatherings centered around alcohol.  The hard part is a newfound awareness of my true self.  I feel like a teenager going through puberty.  I’m emotional. I’m stressed out.  I’m anxious.  For 15 years, my subconscious sent me to drink and do drugs to suppress these feelings.  Now these emotions are coming to fruition and it’s as if I’m feeling all of them for the first time. Sobriety wasn’t this hard when I did it last Fall in Texas.

It led me to wonder why it’s so much harder to be sober in New York City than it was back home in Texas.  I thought about it for a few days and I came up with these reasons:

Family Support

The first time around, I was living with my aunt in The Woodlands.  I had little stress and lot of family.  My dad and I were reconnecting.  I was finally getting close to my step mother and my Nana.  I knew that my mom and my Gammy in Waco were only a three hour drive away.  Looking back, I now see that love, support, and stability surrounded me in abundance.

While I’ve made some incredible, life changing friendships here, most of the people in my day to day life have only known me for six months.  They met me as a girl with pink hair who moved to New York City to write for Rolling Stone magazine.  In a few months, I’ve changed my hair color and my goals and have come clean about having a drinking problem.  I’m blessed to have landed at lululemon Men’s where I feel like I’ve adopted a group of brothers who look out for me.  And if it wasn’t for my roomie / ride or die / best friend / sister from another mister / saving grace,  Alisson – I have no idea where I would be right now.

City Life vs. Suburban Life

In the suburbs, I drove everywhere.  I would even drive store to store in the same shopping center.  When driving from point A to point B there was little distraction.  It’s hard to see inside of a bar when you’re focused on traffic.

Here, nearly everything I do is on foot.  I’m walking four miles a day and that’s not including my steps at work.  At the end of the day when I’m walking to my train, I pass bar after bar.  Inside, people are laughing and having fun while singing along to songs that I love. They clink their glasses and celebrate whatever brought them out that night.

This.  F***ing.  Sucks.  I just turn up my TED Talk podcast and keep walking.

Social Experiment vs. Personal Growth

My first attempt at sobriety last Fall had no direction.  It was mainly just something to do and proved to be an interesting social experiment.  I even cheated one time.  A friend bought a round of sake bombs for the table and I took one.  I don’t even like sake, or the feeling of guilt that I carried immediately after shooting it.

Now, with some focus and direction, sobriety makes sense for me.  I’m not even tempted to cheat this time.  I’m at a point in my life where I’m cleaning out what i don’t need.  Clarity has shown me that alcohol does nothing for me, except for clouding my sunshine.  This isn’t a social experiment.  This is personal growth.

Losing Control

In addition to being in recovery from drugs and alcohol, I’m also a recovering control freak.  In preparation for moving here, I was trying to plan out my New York City life from my home in Texas. I tried to line up a job transfer at a lululemon in the city.  It didn’t work in line with my plan, so I got frustrated and amicably left my store in The Woodlands.  I also joined and put $1,000 down on an apartment that turned out to not even exist.

Life in New York City is hard to put into words, but I’ll try.  In 7 months of living here, I’ve learned that I can’t always trust Google Maps, an unbelievable amount of people can fit on a train, and that celebrities are just people, too.  I have also learned that I have zero control over anything.  The only thing I can control is my behavior.



I love New York even more now because it’s taught me patience – in a way that I could have never learned anywhere else.  It took me moving to the craziest city in the world to realize that I was missing and craving peace.  Without this realization, I may have never taken on this challenge of SobrieTea.

Copy Editor: Alisson Wood


8 thoughts on “Sober in The Big Apple

  1. Jody

    Keep kicking control’s butt, Tawny. Make it work for you! 🙂 Texas misses you but I completely underastand. I went to NYC when I was 19 and learned some of the best lessons of my life. Glad The Apple’s doing the same for you! 🙂

  2. brandonbenz

    Thank you for commenting on my blog, I feel like we share a similar perspective on life and it’s really refreshing. Last year I was sober for 5 months, around August I got bored. I thought to myself that I didn’t really get to “enjoy” summer, so I started to drink and smoke again. I remember when I started I convinced myself that I had so much better control over it. At first I did but by the time winter hit I was abusing my body almost every night with alcohol and cigarettes.
    On January 3rd, a new year, and a recent birthday I got sober again. My goal is also to go one year. I’m happy to see that you’re goal is also to go for one year! In the grand scheme of life it’s not that long and lets see what we both can accomplish in this orbit around the sun. I look forward to reading more of you blogs and your twitter! Thank you for finding me, last night I felt like I was going to drink and smoke again, it was a stressful way to fall asleep. Waking up to your blog gives me new hope for this new week.

  3. JustMeJustYou

    Extremely insightful, and I thank you trusting us to take a peek into your rather complex and arduous journey. I wish you all the best, and as a Native-born New Yorker, I can’t quite say I know what it is like to be on the move both literally and emotionally/introspectively. Well, that and me being relatively young.All in all, its people like you which inspire me to keep on writing.

    Once again, an extremely brave story, and wishing you all the best. You have gotten yourself a new NYC fan! 🙂

  4. Chip

    Lessons learned and lessons shared are so meaningful. Both to the writer and to the reader. If we would all just take more time to learn to love ourselves first, it is easier to learn to love others and allow ourself to be loved in return.

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