Cut & Paste: Zines About Sobriety

Cut & Paste is a column highlighting zines and small press publications. 

Recently I was on a panel called “Zines as Radical Resistance.” It was part of Boston Zine Fest and I talked about the importance of writing about my sobriety in my zine, Lady Teeth, as a way of holding myself responsible and to process my addiction and recovery. For me, this has been a crucial part of staying sober.

I drank for a reason and I needed to figure out what that reason was and how to deal with it. But I also drank for no reason and allowed it to get out of control—to the point where the only viable option for me was to quit entirely. There are so many ways to get—and stay—sober. Making zines just happen to be part of my recovery. 

Growing up in suburban Philadelphia I sought out artists and weirdos to befriend, but as I got into punk rock and feminism I started to feel really alone amongst my peers, all of whom seemed uninterested in what I thought was the bigger picture. Then, I discovered zines, and how there were other writers working out their teenage punk feminist identities along with me. Now that I’m working on my addiction, recovery, and sobriety, it made sense for me to search out zines, and the community that came with it, to help me understand myself again all these years later. 

Doris #25

I've been a fan of Doris for so long that it feels like I've always read it. This issue is titled “questions” and writer Cindy Crabb has used the questions as a “jumping off point” of sorts to write about things like how she finally was able to quit drinking. The entire zine isn't about sobriety or drinking but the piece she wrote about quitting wrapped it's arms around me. Cindy begins with,  “Quitting drinking was the hardest thing I've ever done” and goes on to discuss reasons why she drank and the long process she went through to reach her sobriety. Doris has always been a painfully honest zine but this issue was the beginning of a new candor that felt so raw I was thankful those arms were around me. (Cindy is also well-known for putting together Filling the Void: Interviews about Quitting, another zine focused on quitting booze.)

Doris is available from Cindy at dorisdorisdoris.com 

Sad Weekends #2 & #3

“I want to seriously destabilize the idea that once we stop drinking or using, we stop thinking about drinking and using.” In Sad Weekends, Brittany writes about sobriety in a way that expresses exactly how I feel about it, it’s grittiness, and how we demonize those who drink to validate our own sobriety and even though it’s so wrong.  I've always said that just because I can't drink doesn't mean others shouldn't be able to. This idea leads into a piece on sober spaces in radical communities and the discussions happening around them. For example: working consumption patterns into space mandates rather than simply declaring a space a sober space, which some may see as a forced agenda.

In the third issue, Brittany writes about supporting a loved one with an addiction. This is an intense subject for me because it's wrapped in so many confusing layers of self-awareness, guilt, and empathy that can feel suffocating. As someone in recovery who loves someone battling an active addiction, I find myself wanting to support them without enabling them. Yet, I don't exactly know how to do that without contradicting everything I know about recovery and what it means to be supportive rather than simply enabling.

Sad Weekends is available at sadweekends.etsy.com

You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania #9

In You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania, Sari writes, “This zine is an attempt at reflecting on the hardships, mistakes, lessons learned, and positive experiences I've gone through over the past two years.” We are often so focused on living a sober life that we almost forget to also live a good life, a happy positive life, the life we wanted when we decided to give up drinking. Sari has figured out how to balance their present life in a healthy manner while also processing the reasons they decided to quit booze in the first place. Sari explains that their reasons for drinking weren't out of some need to self-medicate, once again reminding me that there are a variety of reasons why people turn to drinking, and subsequently to living a sober life. YGAFIP is one of the best zines I've read about sobriety and includes a fantastic guide on how to support your sober friend.

You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania is available at hoaxzine.etsy.com

Make All Good Things Fall Apart

Both Clementine and Geoff identify as sober addicts practicing a 12-step recovery, together they write about their experiences in Make All Good Things Fall Apart. In the third issue, Geoff breaks down some of the language commonly used to describe sobriety and addiction, like saying “sober” and “clean” and the connotations behind it. Clementine's piece, “Sobriety is an Energy,” really spoke to me, in examining how sobriety is often framed as an absence of alcohol. But for Clementine, it is actually more than what it is not. “I feel that my sobriety grows, it builds and gains momentum, the longer I am sober,” Clemintine writes. It's that energy that is so inspiring about living sober and reminds me of why I quit drinking in the first place. Sobriety is “memory, is presence” and “long visible nights and clear warm mornings” and that's what makes it so special.

Make All Good Things Fall Apart is available at from-the-margins.tumblr.com

Think About the Bubbles #8: Trust the Knife A Frac/tion of a Story of Post-Traumatic Growth

Joyce has written one of the most honest and brutal zines that I’ve ever read. Think About the Bubbles is so hopeful and inspired that I sobbed while reading it. This zine begins when Joyce's boyfriend, during a make-out session, finds a lump in her breast. It concludes at the point where she is not only four months cancer-free but four months sober. While dealing with cancer, Joyce was also deep into her alcohol addiction without realizing it (or maybe she just ignored it, or was just trying to use it as a means to an end). It was as if she was so consumed, and rightfully so, by her diagnosis that her drinking couldn’t possibly be a problem. Cancer was the problem. This issue reads like a diary during the shittiest time in Joyce’s life, but it was also a period of her life that she survived. Think About the Bubbles reinforced my belief that sobriety is more than just not drinking—it’s living the best life you can live.

Think About the Bubbles is available at thinkaboutthebubbles.bigcartel.com

by Taryn Hipp
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Taryn lives in Pennsyvania with her bmx bike, her dog & her dude. She's been making zines for more than half her life & currently writes the perzine Lady Teeth, about her addiction & recovery.

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