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.

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.

 

Play Groups With Wine

My son and I started attending a new play group last week for mamas and littles (plus wine). I felt fine not drinking the first week we went, but this past week was a bit harder. Maybe because I was offered alcohol a bunch of times by an exuberant host husband trying to be polite and friendly? Or because the hosts drank more this time? Or because I was the only Mom not drinking? I am not sure exactly, except that it was a little harder to deal with this time around. I wasn’t close to drinking, but the thought crossed my mind about how easy it would be to say yes. These are new friends so they don’t know my history with alcohol, and I felt scared facing a social situation without the loss of inhibitions that comes with a few drinks. I didn’t feel loose; I felt uptight and shy. Prudish. Boring.

Those thoughts and feelings were all in my head, though. I believe that I came across just fine to others. I talked to moms, played with the kids, ate snacks, drank the bottled water that I brought with, and had a nice time overall. I am not sure anyone really CARED that I wasn’t drinking. In retrospect I don’t think they even noticed- I think I just felt sorta awkward about it and projected that onto others. I am still learning how to be sober in different situations. It takes time.

I played the tape forward and thought about what would happen if I did say yes to a drink in that situation. Well, I likely would have had more than one drink and then had to drive my sweet little toddler home. When I was drinking I felt nervous with new friends, as I do now, and would have craved more drinks to TRULY RELAX after I got home, so I would have stopped at the store on the way home for some beer or wine. I also would have wanted a cigarette to go with my drink(s), so then I would have bought a pack of cigarettes. The end result = me at home drinking and smoking on my back deck feeling like shit. Worth it to feel a bit less uncomfortable at a play group that lasted all of two hours? No!

The main problem is that I feel stiff and uptight sometimes. I have always felt that way, even when I WAS drinking. I am just not a dance-on-the-table type of person. And I feel defensive about being sober! Like I am defective and not good or fun enough to hang out with this group if I am not drinking. Wow- where do these thoughts come from?

So instead of drinking I am going to work on loosening up a little around others in a healthy way. I am going to start by trying to release fear and just be myself. What do I have to lose? I DON’T DRINK, so that is not an option.

Any readers have tips on letting go of fear? Let’s share!

 

 

My Body and Mind Are Not on the Same Page

I woke up feeling sick today. Dizzy and slightly nauseous- totally reminiscent of a hangover. I am not sure what the deal is, but I am SO glad that it has nothing to do with drinking. My back has also been killing me all week. My body is not happy with me apparently, even though I feel like I’ve been being pretty darn healthy. The joys of aging, perhaps?

It might be trite and annoying, but these health-related problems have got me thinking about how lucky we are when our health is good. Acting careless with our bodies for years on end is a really easy way to end up with bad health. I always used the reasoning that a glass of wine a day is GOOD for your health. Yeah, that may be so, but buckets of wine, beer, and anything else is definitely NOT good for your health. In fact, it causes all sorts of health-related concerns.

It just goes to show how easy it is to take good health for granted, and to minimize the problems that alcohol can cause in our lives. It is so easy to put the fact that alcohol hurts our health out of our minds. To even think that we are actually HELPING things in some way by drinking wine! Yeah right, addictive voice, yeah right.

When my back stops hurting and I feel less dizzy and nauseous, I am going to start exercising more. Hello, yoga! And maybe running. I am being inspired by all of the sober bloggers who run- you guys are pretty awesome. Prevention is the best medicine, and now I am living a lifestyle where exercise fits in nicely. Before it almost seemed hypocritical to even try.

In other news, my mind is feeling great today. Very peaceful and almost (gasp!) happy feeling. The pull of drinking is lessening slightly. It is still there, and I know I need to watch out for those killer urges that come out of nowhere, but it is getting a bit easier. I am starting to register more pleasure from day-to-day stuff such as a delicious bite of food, a long walk, or a kiss from my husband. Even reading something nice gives me warm, fuzzy feelings in my brain area. Thank you sober bloggers, I enjoy reading all of your things. They make me feel pretty good.

So today I am grateful for my (mainly) good health and my brain starting to return to its normal, non-addicted state.