A Thicker Skin

Living life as a sober person requires a sense of humor and a thick skin. To fully integrate into everyday life you have to have the ability to laugh things off and not take everything so seriously.

Many people like to drink. While I sometimes wish this wasn’t the case, the world isn’t going to reorganize itself to suit my whims (or diseases). If I want to reintroduce myself into parts of my old social life, I have to be the one to adjust.

So, a lot of people like to drink, and they also like to talk about their drinks.

Friend: This wine is so delicious. Did you know that Australian varietals are really in right now?

Jen: ……No, I haven’t bought much wine lately…always good to know, though. Thanks.

Friend: So-and-so brought this fantastic pepper beer over recently and we all had a taste! It was weird…hot but cool, if you know what I mean.

Jen: ……

And then the subject changes and all is well in the world. I wouldn’t have been able to handle this at first, which is why I pretty much stayed away from all drinking events, but it is more manageable now. I feel awkward, try not to take it personally, and then move on and talk about something else. I even try to laugh to myself at the whole situation.

I mean, I already drank a whole life’s worth of drinks, so I know how to talk about them. I think that the more comfortable I get in these situations the more comfortable others will be. I want people to feel comfortable around me, yet at the same time I don’t want people to talk about their damn drinks all night long. Seriously. That would make for a pretty boring conversation.

It just is less important now, which is really cool.

I read an article about ego-depletion somewhere recently. Ego-depletion is the idea that your self-control is finite; you only have so much willpower. Once you use it up, you use it up. This really spoke to me about addiction and placing ourselves in difficult situations that require the flexing of our sober muscles. We need to do it a little at a time and then have activities that fill us back up in between, like sober blogging. Or AA meetings. Or whatever makes us feel powerful and in control instead of deprived and sad that we can no longer drink.

Laughter helps to fill me up. When I can see the humor in a situation I am able to defend myself better against ego-depletion. I don’t feel like I am using so much self-control to avoid drinking, instead I feel happy that I am making good choices for myself.

No Drama Here

My good friend is now hitched, and I made it through the wedding festivities without drinking, so I am feeling good about things. Tired, but good. I was the matron of honor in her wedding, which I have never done before, and turned out to be a pretty fun yet stressful experience. I freaked out last minute about giving a speech at the reception and told her I couldn’t do it, because it was making me feel like diving into the closest vat of champagne (and there was plenty of booze available), but she said one of the other bridesmaids could do it and all was well. I am glad that I spoke my mind, even though I probably should have done it earlier. Public speaking on top of a sober wedding turned out to be a bit too much for me to handle. Maybe after a year of sobriety it won’t be such a big deal… I don’t know. I feel a little sheepish about being so afraid of speaking in front of the wedding, but I am trying to honor my fears and understand when to push through them and when to walk away. No need to push myself too hard too fast- I think it’s self-care to say no when I feel pushed to the edge to the point where my sobriety is in jeopardy. In the end nobody gave a speech at the wedding at all, at least before I left, so I worried about it for nothing. Such is life.

The rest of the festivities- rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception- went fine without booze. The main difference is that I get more tired now…or maybe I just truly feel when I am tired instead of masking it with fake drunk energy. I officially feel like one of the old married ladies, but then I remember that I am part of an old married couple. I did a little dancing, ate some food, chatted with friends, and tried to keep my little guy from having a meltdown. We left at around 10pm and were in bed by 11:30, sober and happy.

My attitude continues to shift… slowly at times, but surely, towards this new sober place of being. And the beauty of waking up feeling good, albeit with a slight emotional hangover, but no shame (from doing something stupid like talking to my friend’s relatives and not remembering what I said, or acting inappropriate and flirty with someone while my husband stood and watched, or any number of other embarrassing possibilities) makes me feel happy. Oh, and being a sober role model to my child. I just LOVE those things. They seriously do not get old.

I have been thinking more and more about life and sobriety being big picture, so whenever I start to worry and doubt myself I try to take a step back. From there I can see that I am on the right track, and that there is no need to worry about anything all that much. My child is not going to be hurt by the effects of parental alcohol use/misuse as long as I stay vigilant, and as an ACOA, I feel so proud of that fact. My life is not going to be hurt by alcohol anymore.

Onwards to the rest of the summer. We have a trip planned in July to see some family on the West Coast, but no big plans otherwise. Time to settle into my new life even more fully as I approach one year sober in August. It sounds good to me. Not dramatic, not particularly exciting even, but nice and wholesome and WHOLE and happy and good.

 

 

Friendships and Life

I am working on building, or rebuilding, friendships in real life because I haven’t put much effort there, aside from the bare minimum, for the past 8 months. Getting sober has been my main concern- not friends. But obviously, friends are great when you have something to talk about, like old hook-ups, that leaves you feeling icky, icky and more icky. So there it is – lesson learned – we need people in all areas of our lives. We are not islands. Staying on my little sober island was good for awhile, but now it is becoming a hindrance to growth.

I don’t feel comfortable discussing certain things with my friends right now, though. When I say that I want to work on building friendships I mean the really deep kind where you can truly share yourself- even the icky, embarrassing parts. This makes me think that I might want to reconsider AA, because alcoholics are probably able to understand better about doing stupid stuff when blacked out, while moderate, normal drinkers don’t have those types of experiences often in life. I am expanding all the time… I can feel it. My life is getting bigger, and maybe AA should be a part of that. I am less scared (of everything, pretty much) than I was at first, so I might be able to handle going to meetings without feeling so shaky and close to drinking.

Sometimes I think that the friends that we attract mirror who we are, or how we are feeling, on the inside. When I am being judgmental or gossipy I notice those qualities in the friends around me. When I am feeling worthy and whole, I notice the best qualities about my friends. This is why I am going to work harder on developing friendships by being the best version of myself. For this introvert, that sometimes means staying home when I am feeling bad. That’s okay, though. It is all about knowing your limits and being comfortable in your own skin. Loving yourself.

I hate when I feel needy around friends. My people-pleasing, approval-seeking, perfectionist self comes out and wants my friends to tell me that I am doing everything right. That never happens, and is a ridiculous desire, so I need to keep seeking that approval from within. Loving myself by accepting that I am okay right now, as is.

Relationships can really push our buttons, can’t they? I think they are meant to sometimes, but sometimes you just want to have a few laughs and feel accepted. This happens to me more often around certain people than others. What I am trying to figure out now is how much judgment I am placing on friends, and how that is affecting the way that I feel around them. I want to be free from judgments as much as possible. Since I used to plan my social life and friendships around opportunities for drinking – instead of figuring out who gets me, inspires me, motivates me, challenges me – this is a whole new ball of wax. Like anything, when it is viewed as a fun experiment that cannot go wrong, it works so much better.

Enjoying life means enjoying people. I think recovery means figuring out how to be my genuine, social self in the world sans alcohol (like my tagline). A little at a time.

 

Fear

My last post talked about a play group that I recently started attending that includes wine drinking for most of the other moms. I had a hard time at the last one that I attended, and kind of wanted to join in the drinking even though I knew that would be a horrible idea. I don’t have to attend this group! I am doing it so that my son has some kids to play with. If it doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world. I was worrying way too much, as I do. As I am trying NOT to do, but you know. It’s hard to stop.

Do I wish that we had a less alcohol-infused society? Yes. Do I want to try to meet more sober people? Yes. Do I want to ONLY attend activities that are alcohol-free? No, not really. A lot of people in our society drink so if I limit myself to spending time with those who are sober or teetotal I am severely limiting my life! However, if I find it too hard to be around drinkers I will leave. I don’t like being around drunk people. I will ALWAYS have an escape plan. I will ALWAYS say a little prayer before going out to help me stay sober. I will ALWAYS listen to my gut and try to do what is best for me (even if this means staying home and missing a social activity for me or my son). My sobriety comes first.

I think part of recovery is facing my fears. I couldn’t do that at first because I wasn’t ready, but I am stronger now. I have faith that I will make good decisions about my life. I trust myself. I don’t need to test myself or my resolve by placing myself in unnecessarily hard situations, but I need to learn how to live life as a sober person in various settings and situations. I want to be a social person. I don’t want to live in fear.

And speaking of fear- I think I have been reacting to old fears for a long time. I became scared as a young girl because I saw the world fall apart around me, and I learned to live with the constant fear I experienced by self-medicating. I don’t need to do that anymore. I need to fight these fears, many of which are totally irrational, and become the person I am capable of being.

Here is a good article about fear if you are interested in reading it.

Are Your Frightened Too? (from Veronica Valli’s blog)

I really appreciate all of your thoughts and support. I am sending the best and nicest of my thoughts to you all.

 

Things I Learned From a Party

I helped throw a party for a good friend who is getting married this past weekend. It was held at a winery, then we went to another winery, then dinner, then the group went on to a bar to watch a band and continue the festivities. I bowed out after dinner, which I think was the best call for me at this point in time. I was tired and ready to be at home with my family. It turned out great! I learned a few things that I want to share to help me remember this point in my sober life.

– It gets easier to be around people drinking, but it still feels a bit awkward at 229 days sober. I am much better at doing it than I was six months ago; there is no question. I really think this is different for everyone. I believe that my social life will continue to improve as long as I keep trying, don’t push myself more than I want/need to, and practice being patient. I have discovered that the outside world is there whenever I want to join it. Staying sober comes first!

– I am different now in these types of social situations. I tend to hang with a quieter crowd than I used to. I like being around the non-drinkers… they are interesting and thoughtful. I used to avoid them like the plague or try to get them to drink with me. No longer. Now I feel like they are my people!

– Being social for hours on end makes me TIRED. A good tired, but I need to be able to call it a day/night whenever I want and go home. I will be avoiding a friend’s out-of-town bachelorette party this year for that reason, along with a few other reasons. I still need to be able to escape.

– It is absolutely the best to be able to plan a full day of productive activities the day after a party. In the past the day after would have been totally wasted while I recovered from a horrific hangover. I really love and appreciate this part of living sober.

– People don’t really seem to care whether I am drinking or not. Oh, and I don’t give a damn what people think about me not drinking. This has changed… I felt like I had two heads when I didn’t drink at first. So awkward and judged. Not anymore.

– Social events are more meaningful to me now that I am fully present. My conversations are more genuine, the plans I make matter to me, and I speak my truth instead of becoming blasted and getting overly emotional/complimentary/loud/whatever. I am more real. I feel more uptight than I used to, but I think that will lessen as I become more comfortable being sober around people socially. Like I said before, it is already getting so much easier than it was at first. I have only been sober for 7&1/2 months… that is not a very long time in the grand scheme of things. I can’t wait to see what it feels like at one year! 2 years! 5 years!

Okay… I also don’t want to wish my life away.

 

 

I Am Now a Wallflower

At this point I am not sure that I will ever be able to have a “normal” social life again. I am jesting a bit, but damn! It’s hard! I went to my friend’s bachelorette party and wedding last week/weekend and it was sorta fun for like one second and then I left. It is hard to be around friends drinking, and I felt uncomfortable, so I used my husband and baby as an excuse. Bad mama! It was just too tempting to have just one drink while my husband was at home and everyone else was tipsy, and I was scared of making that mistake, so I extricated myself from those situations. I was really hoping that I would be able to hang and party sober for awhile, but it just didn’t happen. I hope it will get easier if I keep trying, or else I might have to become a hermit. Maybe I should go ahead and purchase a cabin in a remote area in the mountains now! At least then I can hermit it up in style.

I dunno, I am really more of a one-on-one person when it comes to socializing anyway. I think I started liking alcohol because it made me feel more comfortable in crowds when I was nothing more than a wee, timid teenager. Alcohol made me louder and more carefree, and without it I struggle to feel heard in large groups. Now that I am alcohol free I think I am back to being more of a one-on-one or small group person. That is okay, but it will require some adjustments in my expectations and plans for my social life. Baby steps.

On another note, I am feeling under the weather today. I might have the flu or something because I am achy and generally icky feeling. Therefore I am going to keep this blog post short, but I wanted to thank everyone who gave me encouragement and support about being social during the past few weeks. I WAY over thought things, which is pretty normal for me, but at least I made safe, smart choices in the end. I am looking to all of you to show me how to eventually spread my wings a bit further. I know it is possible! Keepin’ the faith, yes I am.

Plus, I am 67 days sober! The days are really starting to add up without nearly as much work on my part, which is pretty damn cool. 67 days seems like a lot to me, but I know it is a mere drop in the bucket.

Have a good day, everyone. I am going back to bed.

Facing Social Anxiety (a little bit at a time)

I have a few social events to attend this week, and I am trying hard to keep my cool. I can be a laid back social girl who doesn’t drink, right? I used to use all social events as drinking occasions, so thinking about going out sober is a new experience for me. The anticipation of drinking was probably more fun than the actual drinking, now that I think about it. Events used to be exhausting because I would begin to plan my drinking really early… whether I could drink beforehand, how I could stay semi-sober depending on the crowd, worrying about how to get home, finding the after party, etc. That does not even include normal planning like deciding what to wear (which I still think about because that part is actually fun!)

In the past I almost always drank too much during social situations. I have read about other people with drinking problems who drank mainly at home and feel kind of jealous… why didn’t I think of that? It would have been just as damaging in many ways but much less embarrassing! Ah well. Since I was a public drunk I feel accountable to my friends who know that I am no longer drinking. No big secrets here! I have actually been worrying about oversharing in regards to my alcoholism and sobriety more than anything. Once I start talking about quitting I have a hard time shutting up, which seems to invite unwanted advice and general awkwardness. I would rather speak eloquently and elegantly, shut the hell up, and then exercise boundaries when given advice that I do not care to hear.

Anyway, I am looking forward to testing out my sobriety in public in a few safe situations. Well, semi-safe situations at least. I will have supportive people at both events (a bachelorette party and a wedding). The bachelorette party is a low-key spa night at a girlfriend’s house near my own home, and the wedding is an afternoon event that I will be attending with my husband and son. Thank you sweet baby for giving me an excellent excuse to leave the moment I feel weird or uncomfortable.

Here are a few reasons why being sober in social situations is preferable to drinking (for me, at least):

– Make-up looks nice the entire time, hair is in place. Eyes are clear instead of bloodshot.

– Able to drive myself home without danger or fear. Aside from normal danger that comes with driving, that is.

– Leave at a reasonable time. I used to stay til the last drop was finished and then head to the next party. This meant keeping my husband and son waiting for me a few times this past year, or staying up way too late. Nothing good.

– No drunk texting. I am the worst at that. Ugh.

– Enjoy the company of friends and meeting new people instead of simply enjoying the free booze.

– Won’t say or do anything that I will regret the next day.

– Can walk better in heels.

– More dignified and attractive behavior overall.

– I can talk to anybody, not just heavy drinkers. I used to mainly confine myself to groups that I felt comfortable boozing around.

I have been taking it slow when it comes to being social because I still feel pretty shaky, so I am excited and curious to see how things go this week. I am sure it will be hard at times, which is why I am planning ahead. Life goes on whether you are sober or not, right? Luckily it is also easy to sit things out, as sobriety is my main priority.