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  • Writer's pictureLandon Payne

Sober Life, Pt. 1: The Beginning

My relationship with alcohol began in college. The year was 2006. My mom and grandmother helped me get settled in my dorm and left me to my own devices. The first semester was a whirlwind. I was a fish in a new pond where all the fish seemed to be swimming much faster than me. Before arriving at this HBCU in the middle of Oklahoma, I was an introverted strait-laced, church fanatic obsessed with books. When it came to socializing, I was ill-equipped.

Let Him use you, young man!


I will never forget my first drink. It was also my first time getting hammered. My new associates were getting prepared for the FIRST party of the year. At this point in life, I had never been to a party without adult supervision. The excitement and anxiety had me on the cusp of imploding. I was able to score my FIRST bottle, a 750ml of green apple-flavored Burnett’s vodka. (YUM RIGHT!?)


The rest of that night was/is a blur. Before inebriation swept me off my feet, I was on top of the world. I said and did things that were out of character, but I was getting laughs! For once, I felt like I fit in! Here I was in college, partying it up and making friends! I danced the night away and ended up passing out on the bleachers with a Black & Mild in my hand. To this day, I still have no idea how I made it home.


That crazy night wasn't the last. It ushered in the beginning of a 15-year struggle with alcohol abuse. After that first drink, I was hooked. There was nothing that could stand in my way when that liquid courage was in my system. It made me confident, it relaxed me when I was wound up, and it became my persona. The people that knew me, knew I was coming with booze and jokes (neither of which were top-shelf, in my opinion). My whole personality was in a bottle. A high like that always comes with a crash.


Addiction is tragically romantic. As I plummeted deeper into my alcohol addiction, a part of me enjoyed the chaos. Getting drunk on a near-daily basis became normal for me. I didn’t mind losing close relationships with my best friends because alcohol was my best friend. Why would I give up my bestie for humans? Crazy, right? Inside, I was falling apart. I wanted to quit, but I had built this prison that I couldn’t get out of. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Life was just too burdensome.


Keeping a job was difficult because instead of working, I wanted to day drink or I’d be too hungover to be useful. I spent all of my money on drinking. Being drunk and broke is futile. What the hell are you going to do with a bottle, no money, and a belly full of booze? Nothing. The cycle of drinking myself into oblivion only to pass out was a continuous drunk loop I felt I had no way out of. Being told to attend meetings, seek help, moderate, etc. didn’t help me, because I didn’t want to hear all that. My sole purpose was to get drunk whenever I could. I didn’t want to stop. The chaos had become my comfort.


(It was rough trying to hold a down a job in active addiction. The longest job I've ever held was as a wine salesman for the largest liquor warehouse in Oklahoma.

It didn't help me, but I met 50 Cent... Sooooo... yay?)


Looking back on the last 15 years and reflecting on all of the turmoil I reveled in is mind-boggling. By all accounts, I shouldn’t even be here. There was soooooo much drinking and driving happening, it would blow your mind. Waking up with a raging hangover almost became second nature. Most, if not all, of the relationships I had, were rooted in alcoholism and shared trauma. It wasn’t long until I found myself married and it became a struggle within my marriage. I was unhappy in my marriage, so I talked it over with my best friend, booze. As you can imagine, this was ineffective.


After the split, I was forced to take a long look at myself. Living back at home, searching for a job, and starting over seemed daunting. I was back at square one and it was time to rebuild. On January 23, 2021, I decided to drop the bottle. My best friend was gone. The bottled personality was capped indefinitely. It was the hardest decision I have ever made in my humble 33 years of life. Purging everything I thought I knew for sure has been the most humbling experience I’ve ever had.


Being present and showing up for myself are two things I wasn’t doing because I thought alcohol was filling that void. It feels good to show myself the love and patience that I desperately needed. It’s like meeting myself for the first time. This new, sober dude is a bit off sometimes, but I like him. I’m still learning how to be social without alcohol. It’s been a little weird, but I’m slowly progressing (more about this later).


Being fed up with your own shit will leave you ready to do some pretty irrational things. I was so tired, I quit cold turkey. It’s not for the faint of heart and I do not recommend doing so if you are an extremely heavy drinker. The first 5-6 months were a mental obstacle course for me and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the people who love me. Please seek the assistance of a medical professional if you feel like the cold turkey method isn't for you.


As of the publishing of this entry, I am 289 days sober. I'd be lying if I said this journey has been a breeze so far. The nine months of sacrifices, sleepless nights, and moments of unfiltered emotional unveiling have been worth it. I've had to unlearn so many toxic and disabling behaviors to get here and it yet continues.


If you read this far, thank you for reading my story. I debated for days on whether I wanted to post it. If I can help just one person, it's worth it. I'm too happy to answer any questions you all have and I will gladly share the resources that continue to keep me lifted.


To be sober is to be intentional. Let's be intentional together.

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2 Comments


Shar Jossell
Shar Jossell
Nov 09, 2021

What an incredibly raw, vulnerable, and moving piece. Thank you for your transparency, Landon--forever proud of you!

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Jon Mack
Jon Mack
Nov 09, 2021

So proud of you! Thanks for sharing. ❤️

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