I'm Kaitie Degen — a 27 year-old working towards sobriety. I grew up in a chaotic household, riddled with abuse, social service intervention and bullying. Having never met my father, and constantly helping with a drug-addicted mother, meant growing up quickly under a great deal
of stress. Besides my constant battle with depression and anxiety, I've also had the burden of
my own vices. I believe that drugs and alcohol have deeply shaped who I am today, but I came
to realize that the overindulgence was stunting my personal growth.
My life has been a humbling experience of searching for my self-worth, but recently I'd been craving more; more love and honesty towards myself and more confidence to help others do the same. This was the beginning of Sober Saturdayz. My aim is to integrate alcohol-free products into establishments across Canada and help create radically fun alcohol-free events. Where people can talk openly about substance abuse and build the confidence to engage in social situations, while making healthy decisions.
I’m Been! I am 100% sober. I have 18 years of sobriety. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but at the same time it’s been, at times, a very difficult journey.
When I drank, I drank to be someone other than myself. I drank until there wasn't anything left to drink. I drank to find confidence I didn't have. I drank to escape my strictly Christian upbringing which, I felt, put me at a disadvantage out in the world. I didn't know anything, I thought. I believed I wasn't cool, I didn't fit in, and I definitely carried a lot of evangelical guilt around with me that only lots of alcohol could drown out in my mind. I suppose in some vague way I understood my grandfather had been an alcoholic but these things were never spoken of. Not outright. I drank so much so often. I thought I could stop if I wanted to but hell, why would I want to? Being drunk felt better than being me.
I couldn't stop, though. I tried. I tried to stop once, on a new year's dare, and lasted a whopping 14 hours.
When I did get sober, it was through the very direct and honest help of a friend who was an addiction counselor and through Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't stay in AA but I stayed with sobriety. That friend helped me look into the abyss of myself to see why I drank. That's the thing with recovery: you have to be willing to look into the darkness and dwell it in a bit in order to recover. It's not easy. It's never easy. It's difficult and painful and tedious and awful. But sobriety is also the best worst thing you'll ever go through. Of everything in life I'm most proud of my sobriety. It represents a hell of a lot of work and a freshly clear mind that lets me grow without booze as a crutch. It represents freedom.
At Sober Saturdayz we embrace everyone no matter what their story is with alcohol. Maybe you can't drink because of your medication or religion. Maybe you have mental health struggles. Maybe you just don't like the taste or have a family history you'd prefer not to repeat. Maybe, like me, you needed to recover from alcohol addiction and for you, like for me, sobriety is a life and death issue. I see you. I'm one of you. Sober Saturdayz has given me a community to both be part of and help nurture. A community where we are our best selves without alcohol. Where we have a blast and are also brutally honest together. A place where harm reduction is an action, something we are currently working on, not just a dream. We can create non-alcoholic havens within society together, and bring real choice, community, and delicious fun to everyone, not just those in recovery. That's why I'm here. That's why I believe in Sober Saturdayz.