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Straight Edge Interview Project: Strawberry, 30, New Jersey, Hers/her/she

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects?

strawberry sher/her/straight edge

I work in higher education. I am currently half way through my Doctorate in Educational Leadership. I do a great deal of mental health advocacy through mental health associations including NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness. I love to read and write! I love nature and hiking also. 😀

What is your definition of straight edge?

During my second year of graduate school for Sociology & Social Justice, I took a professor who insisted we call hm “Rich.” Rich was not only a great professor but awesome in his demeanor. He was covered in tattoos and we joked that he looked like a bouncer at a club. In one of our classes, Rich told us how he was part of the Straight Edge Community. He explained “ I do not drink alcohol, consume drugs, smoke cigarettes or engage in promiscuous sex.” I follow this simple definition.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

I see it more often than in the past all over the internet and social media as well as in the music scene

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

I would say I am. I love music but have not played a heavy role in this aspect but have with the principles of sobriety, both physical and emotional.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

People think I am boring sometimes but then see my personality is anything but boring! LOL! I think people assume because I am sober, I must have been in and out of rehabs. People also assume I will be uncomfortable if they are drinking.

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

I feel like I always feel at ease around other edge people and that I do not have to defend myself or explain myself. I feel understood. People, who are not edge, do not understand sobriety and often ask many questions about my lifestyle. I am always happy to inform and explain.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc? What drew you to it?

During my second year of graduate school for Sociology & Social Justice, I took Quantitative Analysis with a professor, who insisted we call him “Rich.” Rich was not only a great professor but awesome in his demeanor. He was covered in tattoos and we joked that he looked like a bouncer at a club. In one of our classes, Rich told us how he was part of the Straight Edge Community. He explained “ I do not drink alcohol, consume drugs, smoke cigarettes or engage in promiscuous sex.” My classmates and I, who were mainly in our twenties, thought about how such a boring life that must be and how none of us would ever be able to live like that!

I thanked Rich for being the one to plant the seed in my mind and remind me of the path I was destined towards. Not only was I meant for this life but I was derailed. When I was in high school, I used to always talk about how I would never engage in any of the activities listed above, mainly because of what addiction did to my family. I did not want to be part of a society that led to so much pain and distress but I did.

I went through hard times myself and looked for anything outside of myself to fill the void. I do not think drugs and alcohol are the only forms of dependence or ways to escape reality. Yung Pueblo once said, “I was never addicted to one thing, I was addicted to filling a void within myself with other things other than my own love.” You could use food, people, social media, technology, gambling, shopping, plastic surgery, tanning, risky behavior and the list goes on. After a bad breakup and years of complacency, I found myself falling into the trap myself and feeling so disconnected from myself and reality. Drinking so much, feeling invincible, to wake up the next morning feeling empty and alone but repeating that pattern with other behaviors. It is just like eating an entire pint of ice cream, some cake, half a pizza etc. and feeling sick to your stomach but not feeling the effects until the last bite. Then, wondering why you did something so stupid but then repeat two days later. Albert Einstein is known for his definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

My first step for embracing reality and giving up self-sabotage was through sobriety. I took my last drink on April 21st, 2016, took the straight edge pledge and have not looked back since. I was tired of ending up in the same situations with the same yet different toxic friendships and relationships. I was tired of having regrets and the vicious shame cycle. I felt like I was reliving re-enactments and they always ended the same. I am a firm believer that nothing changes if nothing changes and something needed to change for my own well-being. When I reclaimed my power, I no longer needed to fill voids. I became whole as I filled the void with love and compassion; I learned about who I was and other interests I had. I did not look towards people, food or other means to attain happiness. I met other straight edge sisters and people who embraced their sobriety. I am grateful for those around me who do not judge or question my decision just as I do not judge them. Addiction and alcoholism are both crippling diseases and when I see someone struggling I remember the quote by Yung Pueblo. I have compassion for them and what struggles they have gone through and hope they find self love and happiness.

I celebrated four years in April of this year. Rosa Luxembourg said “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” I am forever grateful for having the awareness to recognize the cycle and the courage to break it.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

My definition has not changed but it has grown to learn more about the music scene and different eating preferences.

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

Yes. I advocate for the straight edge and sober community, mental health advocacy, those impacted by alcoholism and addiction like myself and self-love! 😀

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

A clear mind and body, a healthy mindset, being apart from toxicity and surrounding myself with positivity.

What you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

Hiking, Walking in Nature, Writing, Journaling, I read a ton!, I love support groups and twelve step rooms to discuss sobriety, trauma, adult child issues and the impact of addiction and alcoholism. I also run and attend book clubs. I also do presentations to share my stories and experience with mental health struggles and advocacy work.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

I did not have any issues honestly. I did read 30 books in the pandemic so far! 😀

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

No. Even in those small moments of the thought, it is not worth throwing away years of sobriety and regressing back into negative times.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

I have never dated anyone who is edge and my current partner is not.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

I do not have issues but do def. limit my time in bars/clubs. I go to enjoy the company but do not stay for expended periods. A great deal of my family have become sober after years of struggling with alcoholism. I am grateful for their sobriety and how we are changing the family dynamic through out decision to not pick up alcohol.

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

I wish I could find more women to connect with locally but online it has been great meeting so many great ladies!

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

I simply explain that I do not drink, do drugs or engage in those type of behaviors. If they ask why, I simply say I do not like how I feel under the influence or the impact it has had on my life and family.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

I feel as though I have met many people who are edge but have never engaged in such behaviors. As a child who witnessed a great deal of addiction and alcoholism, I always said I would never drink or do drugs. I did end up losing my way briefly and drank for many years but I am not one to understand moderation. Whether it is one drink or one brownie, it is not possible for me. I eventually stopped drinking all together and became that child who said they would never touch substances again. I am glad I found my way back. I do feel as though I was accepted into the community openly.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

I see many woman and girls! I love our representation!

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

I feel as though more can be done on many levels. I would love to see more people and groups know about the edge community.

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share! My article last year 😀

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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