Top 10 reasons not to drink, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love Weird and Awkward

1 Feb

5:40 pm

I went out last night. Since getting sober, I haven’t actually been “out out,” as in, out to a bar where other people were drinking and I had to fend for my poor, little, 38-year-old self. I mean, I’ve been to dinner parties, brunches, beach outings, and even bars, but it wasn’t to “go out” (we went to see a band last night).

And, well… I felt so insecure! So uncomfortable! So awkward! Dare I say, Weird and Awkward! And, without booze to hold onto, I felt vulnerable. I felt like I was in college again. GAH. NO!?!? And, I was so far up in my own head that at times, it was really hard to fake that I was having fun.

BUT, I learned something about myself. I’ve known it for a long time–my whole life. Sometimes–like when I was learning calculus–you just need to see it from a different angle to actually GET IT. I got it last night: I create entire realities in my head when it comes to what others are thinking of and about me, and one, probably none of it is true, and two, who gives a shit if it is?

I have to imagine that we all feel insecure sometimes, introverts moreso than extroverts. A mere sampling of my thought “process” during these times:

I wonder if they think I’m boring/I bet they do, I bet they think I’m boring/OH, GOD, why am I being so awkward, what with all these pauses and looking away/I have to look away, but now, oh, fuck, now I bet they think I’m being rude or disinterested when really/you’re standing too close to me and I really don’t know what to say and for some reason, I feel like I’m 18 again and not 38/it hurts I want out it hurts I want out/I want to curl up in a ball and roll on OUT OF HERE

Yup. That’s me. ME. That’s what’s going on inside MY HEAD. However, being sober and having to simply deal with it, I had the opportunity last night to observe these thoughts–not only look at these thoughts, but look at them from a different perspective, namely, not my own.

I glanced at the person I was talking to and told myself, Y’know, he’s probably faking it, too, has no idea what to say, might even be feeling more awkward and shy than I am! I had a quick conversation with a former, let’s just say, drinking buddy in front of the restroom; he got sober last year and we chatted very briefly about how he’s drinking again (and having no luck moderating) and how I’m not. “I feel really good where I’m at right now,” I said, breezily (it’s not like I’m falling apart on the outside, just in one corner of my brain). He was noticeably impressed, and congratulated me. Someone else did, too, when I told him that I had 16 weeks. What I’m saying is, other people are not just NOT thinking I’m weird and awkward in my sobriety, but they’re happy for me, even maybe envious! People are rooting for me. And what am I doing? Creating an entire universe in my head that does not exist, based upon my own self-conscious insecurities.

Almost more importantly, I realized that 85 percent of the peeps in the room were in their own, drunken worlds. Who’s going to even remember me, let alone remember that I was sober?

Hence, my sparkling (the glitter rained down, too, I swear) revelation: I don’t need to drink. In fact, I prefer to be sober. IN SPITE OF HOW AWKWARD I felt, and even in spite of the pangs. The pangs were just my body saying, I want to get the fuck out of here because *I feel uncomfortable.* Somehow, my higher brain pulled through and was like, You need to do this to learn/grow, and honey, you know you really don’t want to drink, right? I wanted to use wine to momentarily allow me to feel protected from my raging thoughts. How sadly ironic, seeing how the point of going out and socializing is to be with others, right?

YET, I didn’t drink. Why?

1. I would be sick the next day. (Do I even have to go into 2-10? Who wants to feel sick the next day?)
2. I would get fuck all done the next day, and then I would hate on myself.
3. I would have a horrible hangover, complete with anxiety/panic, depression/suicidal ideation, and general existential angst. (Shit’s not 19 anymore, peeps! It happens.)
4. I would have stupid conversations that I don’t remember, instead of attempts–give yourself a high five for trying–at meaningful ones that I do!
5. I would act like a fucking idiot, dancing and singing and swaying and in general, being WAY too out there. I’ve been out there; I want to coil myself back in. I’m MINE, not yours.
6. I would say shit I don’t mean, or might regret.
7. I would spend too much money.
8. I would consume too many calories. (Hey, y’all, that belly weight is tough to shed; I’m tired of one step forward, two steps back!)
9. I would fuck up my training body and schedule. (I’m finally getting my running legs (and core strength) back, and I’m on a workout schedule now.)
10. I won’t find out what happens AFTER 16 weeks.

I’d say that number 10 is playing a huge role in keeping me from giving in to my pangs. My “fuck it” moments seem to last not moments, but days–I have time to ruminate over the consequences, and they ultimately end up pointing my face toward the door that says, “Don’t Even THINK About Knocking.” More and more, I see how far I’ve come and I think, Well, if you stop now, you’ll probably NEVER get to 17 weeks, or 6 months, or a year. Could things be monumentally different than they were at day 1, than they are now? Maybe… I’ll just have to keep going to find out.

11 Responses to “Top 10 reasons not to drink, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love Weird and Awkward”

  1. Belle (Tired2012) February 2, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    it is really and truly amazing how things DO get different over time, that 3 weeks isn’t the same as 3 months. something really does change. it’s hard to communicate that, exactly, to someone who’s still drinking, so it’s really great that you “get it”… but you get it because you’re living it. you’re doing it.

    I like this line best: “And what am I doing? Creating an entire universe in my head that does not exist, based upon my own self-conscious insecurities.”

    It’s true. and a tiny bit sad, when we realize that NOBODY GIVES A SHIT. no fucking body. not one body. you wonder if 85% are self involved, i’d say it’s even higher. Two or three people, who are trying to get sober, will stare at you with adoring goo-goo eyes, wondering if they can have what you’ve got. The rest are doing their THANG, sober or drunk, whatever that is.

    leave ’em to it. sober car coming through …

    • Drunky Drunk Girl February 7, 2013 at 1:34 am #

      Thanks, Belle! So funny–not one body! It’s true, and a bit maddening at first, but then…things change. Like you said, things just keep on changing and pretty soon, you really simply don’t drink because you’re doing your thing, because you don’t have time to be hung over. It’s that simple for me right now, whereas a few months back, it was THIS REALLY COMPLICATED DEAL.

      Sober car comin’ through! HAHA. That’s awesome. Y’know, I really don’t give a rat’s ass who thinks I’m cool or not for getting sober, who knows, and who cares. I am in the minority, I guess, at AA meetings or even “around town,” when I’m all, yeah, I go to meetings, yeah, I had a drinking problem, yeah, I’m fixing it. I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of there, and the longer I’m sober, the MORE it all seems so…temporarily tragic, to have been this “drunk” person. We go through shit, we change, we emerge as different people. And, so…?

      Sober car comin’ through… 😉

  2. michelle February 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I LOVE number 10 – looking to the future like this is so empowering.

    I had to laugh a bit at your description of what was going on in your head… it was like reading a transcript of my own thoughts when I first got sober and started to socialise without clutching a wine glass. I just felt so awkward and bumbling and stiff. I got better at it, I figured it out, but man. It was like being back in high school for a while there.

    The most powerful thing to realise is what you said: that you (and me, and most everyone else who drank alcoholically) did so because we couldn’t STAND to feel so uncomfortable. Alcohol as social lubricant, as anesthetic. Powerful stuff, dangerous stuff.

    Hang in there.. you are doing great.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl February 7, 2013 at 1:38 am #

      Thanks, Michelle! Totally right on about it being a social lubricant… And then, though, things change, and you start to wonder why all those people “need” to drink anyway to have fun! And then, you start to realize that *you’re* the strong one, the “empowered” one, precisely because you’re free of that burden–that illusion of social anxiety–and love yourself enough to KNOW that what you have to offer, sober, is 100% A-OK awesome! That, to me, is powerful stuff!

  3. good2begone February 3, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    Love this post. I get the entire list. Congrats on 16 weeks. Looking forward to more posts as the weeks pile up!

  4. Lydia February 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    #11. I might not be able to stop.

    • carrythemessage February 4, 2013 at 2:32 am #

      Yup…well said. 🙂

    • Drunky Drunk Girl February 7, 2013 at 1:40 am #

      YES. (Well, I think I just assumed that I didn’t stop, in all my top 10 reasons, which were all outcomes of drinking like an alcoholic per usual…)

  5. carrythemessage February 4, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    These conversations go ad nauseum in our heads when we are early in recovery. I went through it, and it took me time to quiet those voices…to stop projecting all my own insecurities and anxieties onto others. The funny thing is, and you’ve recognized this, that in passing through these insecurities and anxieties, we get to a place where they don’t occupy as much space, their voices quiet down, and we open up more psychic space in our minds. We pass through something and it brings us into a place were we don’t need to go back to …it would stunt our growth to do so.

    We alcoholics have egos…that’s for sure. We think everyone is thinking about us and our not drinking in the room…ha ha. If there is someone who is very concerned about my lack of drinking might be one of us.

    Let the thoughts play out just as that – thoughts. Give them no energy, and focus on the big prize.

    Great job 🙂

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