Since launching merchandise with "We Are The Luckiest" t-shirts and mugs, many of you have asked where the phrase comes from and what it means.
This is the backstory...
Back in 2013, when I really hit the wall and saw that normal drinking—or more accurately, the full-time, tap-dancing, jazz-handed charade of trying to appear normal whilst drinking—was over for me, I fell into a miles-deep pit of anger and grief. I was unbelieving. Despondent, really. I’d take anything else, I thought, if this could just not be my thing.
Now, nearly five years later, this sounds a bit dramatic if not quite absurd. All that anguish over wine? Am I overstating it? One slow, deep breath with my eyes closed and I know I am not. Facing sobriety brought me all the way to my knees.
It wasn’t about the wine, really (although it wasn’t not about the wine, either). It was about my identity and what I perceived as my belonging place in the world. It was everything I’d come to connect with alcohol, dating all the way back to my earliest years, long before I actually took a sip. Drinking was right of passage. Drinking was love. Drinking was belonging, confidence, affection, attention. Drinking was friendship. It was the way in and the way out. It was connection and protection; the smoothing agent and the escape hatch. Drinking meant yes. Not drinking was a big fat no—a cold, stinging slap in the face.
I believed the ones who didn’t have to do this—who could drink or not without much care or consequence—were just so damn lucky. They’d never have to fight this particular, stupid war. Shit, they didn’t even have to be aware it existed. They could just accept the glass of Rosé, or the IPA, or the margarita, or whatever, and slip into the moment, the dinner, the conversation, the date. They didn’t have to take on a label, count days since, contemplate every happy hour or vacation or get together or *whatever* as if it was life or death, explain themselves to prospective dates, face misunderstanding and judgment, find a “program.” They didn’t have to think about it.
Most importantly, they had a place to send their feelings, or at least pieces of them. They didn’t have to stand so damn near to the crushing pulse of being alive without a buffer.
One night in the fall of 2014, I was lying next to my sleeping daughter, crying. About what, I don’t know—everything was at the surface then. After a year of starts and stops, I had finally, unbelievably, put together thirty consecutive days of sobriety. It didn’t feel like much; I had so little faith in my ability to stay the course. But I was there. I was there, with her, in our clean, soft sheets with the cool air on my face. Sober. Awake. Not running. Not hiding. I was in pain, but I knew it was the pain of being alive and that this meant something. I was living, not dying. I was expanding, not destroying. I knew it was pain with purpose and that—if I stayed with it—it would take me to the place I’d been trying to go all along, which was closer to life, not further away. I knew it was a gift—that it was the gift.
I thought, this is the hardest, but it is better. The magic is in here, not out there. They’re not the lucky ones, I am. We are.
We are the luckiest.
P.S. That night in my bed I posted something to Instagram with the hashtag #wearetheluckiest. Since then, it's become a thing. Today, a search for #wearetheluckiest on IG reveals almost 25,000 posts (!). One of you even has it tattooed on your arm (if it's you and you're reading this, can you please email me?!) Your posts are about addiction. About recovery from all kinds of things. About waking up to life. About living. How great is that?