‘If it’s not fun sober it’s probably not fun’
I’ve had a busy weekend socially. The night out on Saturday and then dinner at my friend’s on Sunday, both situations I’ve been avoiding since I stopped drinking. I last wrote on Saturday morning when I was dreading going out. I went and I had a good time! So what’s changed and what have I learnt?
I’m getting used to not drinking so I’m no longer battling internally with the wine witch when I’m socialising. The social awkwardness is a reflection of this internal battle I think. Why can’t I be like everyone else? What’s wrong with me? It’s hard to be relaxed when this is going on inside, hard to be present. I noticed that I’m more tolerant and less judgemental of others. Now I’m more at ease with the new me I can be at ease with others choices too. I still noticed when they were getting drunk but it bothered me less. I was able to focus on what I like about my friends rather than not liking their drinking. Although I could sense some discomfort from them about my lack of participation it didn’t snowball as I wasn’t feeding it with my own anxieties.
Everything is more real without alcohol. There’s not the fuzzy haze surrounding things that makes a place seem exciting and cool. Just a room with some disco lights and people dressed up dancing. Music still has the power to transport though, can still get under my skin and into my bones and make me move! No anaesthetic though for the arthritic joints and the sore feet! Next time I go dancing I’ll wear comfy shoes!
Not everyone out is there to get drunk. This is obvious to the non- addict but an eye opener for me. Realising that getting pissed has been the primary aim of most of my social interactions for so long saddens me. Towards the end of my drinking career I started choosing to stay in so I could drink more. The awareness of the priority alcohol had in my life became too big to ignore. I was bored and fed up but I still chose drinking. Thankfully I didn’t lose the rest of life completely. I’m thankful.
When I used to go out I was always restless. One minute on the dance floor – then let’s get another drink, go for a smoke, go to the toilet. Let’s go somewhere else. Never settling in and just being. I’ve realised that this restlessness came from the desire to be intoxicated driving my brain. Unable to settle, always needing something. No time to really appreciate anything. I’m looking back on all those ‘good times’ now a bit differently. Thinking about what I missed out on by being drunk rather than what I’m missing out on being sober now. Both nights out last week I did what I’d gone to do – I watched the band all the way through and I danced. No distractions needed.
I went home early and that’s ok. Partly because of the sore feet, partly because the others were drunk but mostly because I’d had enough. Alcohol makes us stay longer and later – not because it’s so much fun but because we can carry on drinking. Making my own choice felt good.
I have to mention waking up on Sunday hangover free. Everyone says it but it is so good! I took my mum to watch my daughter show jump, and remembered all the lost time when I’d slept Sunday away or worse still got up and taken her to a show – grumpy and tired, argumentative and probably over the limit still. Without the booze I can have Saturday night and Sunday morning! Result!
I thought I’d find it hard not to be smug on Sunday when we went for dinner; that my friend would be hungover and not great company and I’d gloat a little – I didn’t want to but I thought I would. I was surprised not to feel this way. I didn’t mind that they had wine, I enjoyed the delicious food and the conversation. We laughed a lot. It was evident they’ve missed seeing us as often and I’ve missed them too. This is a huge relief. When I stopped drinking last time I didn’t get past this. One of the reasons I didn’t find AA helpful was the suggestion that I might have to ditch my friends and get new non-drinking ones. It’s probably why I decided to give moderation a go. I love my friends and dinner on Sunday showed me that the stuff in the bottle is not a necessary part of our friendship. I had thought it was.
We have our annual girls weekend away coming up when 11 of us stay in a cottage without men or children. It’s our 30th year! I’ve been dreading it and wondering how I’ll handle it without alcohol. I’m looking forward to it now – the laughs, the food, the games, the walks. If I’m honest I’ve not enjoyed the last few years as I’ve been too drunk. Unable to pace myself and crashing out early. This year there may be moments when others are drunk and it gets to me, but the majority of it will be more enjoyable and I’ll remember it! I feel I’ve turned a very important corner here. If you’d told me I would be able to socialise without a drink and actually enjoy it 6 months ago I wouldn’t have believed you. My mindset has changed – I’ve been reprogrammed! Thanks Kate Bee! (sober school blog and course – check it out if you’re struggling still).
If I’m honest I’m not sure I’ll want too many nights out like Saturday – there’s only so much disco dancing and drunken chat you need in your life! That’s going to be in the ‘every now and then’ box of entertainments moving forward. But old friends, great food and a good laugh – I hope that’s a regular treat.