31 things I learned during 31 days of being sober (McKenzie Teter)

  1. I don’t like it.
  2. I’m halfway kidding…
  3. So many of my interactions involved drinking for no reason.
  4. It was so much harder than I expected, and I expected it to be hard.
  5. The longest I’ve ever lasted before this was 15 days 
  6. But that was in June, which admittedly was a bad month to pick. 
  7. I caved sitting poolside and my excuse was the weather 
  8. While my roommate went on to finish the month.
  9. Sometimes I think I’m a bad influence. 
  10. But this time I lasted all month and celebrated by watching the sunrise.
  11. I can’t imagine being pregnant 
  12. But before this I couldn’t imagine being sober either. 
  13. Maybe that’s the secret: having someone else to fight for.
  14. Was the age I started drinking. It is also my lucky number.
  15. I was the life of the party.
  16. There are whole fractions of my life that I can’t remember.
  17. I tracked how many times this month I almost gave up: it was 
  18. Times. I wanted to quit drinking when I was
  19. But it was college, right?
  20. I believed when everyone said it gets less fun when it’s legal.
  21. It only got easier. 
  22. I come from a long line of drinkers. 
  23. I asked my sober cousin why he’s never had a drink 
  24. He answered what if I like the personality that drinking gives me more than my own? 
  25. I try not to think that he’s judging me. 
  26. Was the age I decided my body deserved a break.
  27. The city I live in is situated between a river and the ocean—
  28. That feels like the opposite of a rock and a hard place.
  29. The word I kept returning to all month was surrounded. 
  30. I’ve heard sobriety compared to a disappearing island during high tide.
  31. As I watched the sunrise, it felt as if there was just enough sand left for me to stand.


Favorite drink: French martini. Vodka, Chambord liqueur, pineapple juice and lemon.

McKenzie Teter (she/her) is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s MFA program, where she studied poetry. Originally from Ohio, her work focuses on working class themes, family dynamics, girlhood and her Italian ancestry. 


image: Kelsey Zimmerman is a writer and artist from Michigan currently living in Iowa. Her work is published or forthcoming in Nurture: A Literary JournalGhost City ReviewUnlost Journal, and The Indianapolis Review. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @kenz_teter.