Tag Archives: Christmas

Socializing sober–there is no escape

26 Dec

11:27 pm

I hope all are having or had a good holiday.  We did, but honestly, I’m kind of glad it’s over, and I’m looking forward to a quiet New Year’s Eve with no plans (or obligations) and no cooking (or overeating).  Oof!  Back away from the chocolate, the cookies, the quiche, the chicken pot pie, DDG…

Maybe it was the move and all the work surrounding that both before and after, but I felt quite stressed this Christmas.  Like, I don’t have kids, I didn’t travel to family and so didn’t have to buy gifts for said family; it’s not like a have a ton to do–not like my friends who are parents, who have actual long lists of things they HAVE to get done and places they HAVE to be during the holidays.  I live on an island, for crying out loud!  Still, I felt like there was no down time, so when Christmas finally came–well, eve and day–I was kind of relieved when it was over.  Granted, I had a great time and am grateful for all of it:  we had some nice food, went to two sweet beaches, did a downtown event, ran into and/or hung out with some friends–but, I’m glad to be moving into a quieter week and a quiet New Year’s Eve.

I’ve taken a step back today, finally, realizing that it has been a LOT, our move, the holidays, the job; the unpacking and shipping and sorting and planning and pondering, ruminating on where to go and whether or not we should go there.  Now we’ve here, and it feels so good to finally be quiet enough, in mind and body, settled enough, to dream, to pause, to put thought to word.

All that being said, the holidays didn’t pass without some sober angst.  Sometimes, I do want to drink; I just want “my” down time, “my” escape.  It does get to be a slog, having to constantly be sober.  Of course, I am better at redirecting my thoughts and feelings, resetting, moving forward, but I do wish I could drink now and then (without the drama, the hangovers).

Anyway, when I was getting sober, the holidays were such a big deal:  I wanted to impress everyone, I stressed out a lot about how I was going to “navigate” the socializing with people who were not sober in any way, shape, or form (there is no avoiding socializing with people who are drinking or doing drugs down here, unless you make a point of only hanging with your AA or sober friends).  It was exciting, to move past and over those hurdles; now, it feels a little stale.  Like, I know I can do it, but why choose to do it?  Why not choose social interactions with people who are purposefully present?

Like, I know I can socialize with basically anyone, in any situation; and that is sweet relief.  It’s because I’ve had to practice working with, through, and around the awkwardness.  I think most of us have some form of anxiety around socializing and making small talk with strangers or people we don’t know that well; but, I don’t think most people have been forced to endure it and practice getting through it–instead, most people still use (drink or drugs) to escape the pain of having to be and feel awkward.  It’s not easy, and I totally understand why you’d choose escape over the reality:  sometimes, the entire conversation should just be trashed after it happens; but, you keep practicing having these conversations over and over again because you have no other choice as a sober person.

These days–and particularly on Thanksgiving and Christmas days–I noticed that EVERYONE around me was drunk or high.  I was like, wtf?  This is just irritating me!  To me, as someone who totally knows why one would use booze or drugs while socializing, it’s just an escape.  So, that begs the question, am I that boring that you need to escape by smoking weed?  Are you that bored out of your skull in this social situation with me that you have to do ecstasy at the table?  I mean, come ON.  I am ALL for freedom of choice, but, really?  It’s SO inconsiderate; not that they’re drinking but that they’re escaping, and from what?  Me!  The situation!  And, they don’t even realize it, which is something that someone who is not sober would, of course, not realize.  ARGH!

It’s not that big of a deal; here, there is always a deck to watch the boats from, or a beach to go swimming in when I feel the need to escape what feels almost burdensome, being the ONLY person sober in the group.  It’s something I wrestle with:  am I enabling them by not saying this to their faces?  Should I just hang out with different people if it bothers me that much?  For the most part, these peeps are friends and most don’t overdo it; but, it’s this thing and it bugs me–still, after all these years!

Anyway, we had a good holiday but I’m looking forward to some quieting-of-mind time the next few days, hiking the hills and smelling the grasses and tropical things, listening to the sounds of the night, and letting some of these thoughts go.  I don’t know what this year will bring, but I know I have to start emptying my mind of the negativity that is circular and eats away at all things expansive; I know I want to–and I hate to say it but it’s true–divest myself of the negativity in my life.  I HATE using that dreadful phrase–get rid of the toxicity (am I a toxic person?  you bet I am, just like you, but that doesn’t mean I should be gotten rid of)–but I really do want to focus on the positivity, on getting my fire back, on myself, frankly.  I know this year is going to bring some solid changes, and I think I’m finally ready for them.  I think I’m finally ready for the fruition part to happen…

Am I a lurker in my sober life?

27 Dec

11:34 pm

What a week, eh? Ah, holidays. Ugh. Even with my 280-some days, I had MAJOR pangs, which was quite unexpected! Again, not necessarily pangs to drink, but pangs to avoid what I really didn’t want to feel, or acknowledge, or confront.

So, quickly, let me set the stage. My boyfriend and I went away for a few nights, and all in all, we had a great time. We’d been to where we went before, and so there was a level of familiarity–and nostalgia–to the place. Which played against me this time, as you’ll see. On Christmas Eve, he sprung something on me that I wasn’t comfortable doing–honestly, I’m not sure I would’ve been comfortable doing it drunk, let alone sober. However, while other people do everything sober and don’t think twice; not me, so cue the whirlwind of “should I/shouldn’t I” thoughts!

I was also feeling surprisingly lonely. I mean, lonely for family in the sense of connection, of belonging, of “protocol.” You know, how it’s nice to sit around once in a while with your big, dysfunctional family because, well, it makes you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself? That there’s SOME sort of order to the Universe? Now, I’ve been “un”-celebrating holidays for a long time, spending many of them alone, or doing random things around the world, literally–it’s not like I’m all that big into Christianity OR family. Why the HELL I found myself wearing shades en route to the airport, having a hard time holding the tears back, I really don’t understand. I think it was the combination of feeling a sense of loss–my old self, my old way of doing things, the old me who could party and be independent–and a sense of finality–how much I’ve gained, how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown.

It was in this state of mind that my boyfriend sprang “the thing” on me. I sort of moped my way through dinner, feeling inadequate in a way because I couldn’t (wouldn’t) do something just because it would have been easier to do with a “glass” of wine to take the edge off. And then, we went to a salsa club. Neither of us danced, and it was the worst feeling in the world–because I’ve been the one to Not Dance out of feeling awkward and like everyone is staring at me SO MANY TIMES. And, it brings up the worst sort of paranoia in me: that I’m unable to enjoy the way others do, that I’m unable–worse, unwilling–to have fun, to let go, to just be. That I can’t do so many things (that make me feel unsafe and self-conscious) without wine.

And, then, I said, Let’s wander around the bar. And my boyfriend was like, And, do what? If you want to be part of something, go and do it, but stop making not being able to drink an excuse for not having the guts to do it. (I’m paraphrasing.)


Am I, in fact, a lurker in my own life? Have I always been? Duh. YES. I mean, when I was drinking, I was alone and desperate for connection, but I was afraid to go out and get it. I’d watch other people, looking for clues as to how to have a life. How to LIVE a life. Ten years ago, I started to walk around the city I lived in at night, looking into lit-up living rooms, craning my neck to gaze deeper, feeling the chill in the air outside even more strongly because the inside looked so warm. I’d DRIVE the fuck around after midnight, passing clubs and bars that I used to frequent, hoping to find…something I had lost, I guess. I never went into those clubs or bars; I was alone, after all, and way too scared. But, I wanted to know that nothing was going on without me. That I hadn’t really lost anything. Or that, I wasn’t missing out on all that much.

Nothing has really changed, it seems, with me getting sober. For years, I drank and drank and drank, and that gave me the courage–or alternately, the excuse to pass on events–to go to things, bars, events, dates, to initiate conversations, to maintain relationships. I had to drink to do it, I was way too scared to do any of it sober. It wasn’t that I was always drunk, but, toward the end everything and everyone in my life involved wine.

It’s been a struggle, and I’ve been trying to be patient with myself. These days, it’s not that I can’t do it, it’s more that I don’t want to. I gave myself a pass for these past 18 months, but more and more, I’m finding myself craving connection. And I see that my “pass” has become an excuse to lurk, to hide out, to avoid contact, to basically give myself the excuse to not do things, socially and professionally.

And, I can’t come up with one thing other than that horrible four-letter word: fear.

I used to pride myself on being the one who was up for anything, on being fearless, on making shit happen. Maybe that was just another story I told myself, because I’ve always hated dancing in front of strangers, for instance, unless I’m drunk. I’ve had an infinite number of conversations with people in my lifetime, at bars, in cities, in colleges and travels, under blankets and in between sheets; but once I got sober, I didn’t want to anymore. I simply didn’t have it in me anymore. I chalked that up to needing to conserve my energy, to finally focusing on me, to being able to at last say, Fuck it, to the shit that I just didn’t want to do–since that “shit” was making me drink.

I keep telling myself that when the time is right, I’ll get back to doing what I used to do–all of which was WAY easier because I was fueled by “liquid courage.” Won’t I? Or, do I need to push myself?

Have I been hiding myself away from life? I think the answer is yes. It’s a very difficult truth to embrace, but…I think it’s time to cut the cord, dive in, jump off.

It sucked balls to have to confront, on Christmas Eve no less, some of the things that have been fucking STARING me in the face before, during, and now, after getting sober. That while I needed to stash myself away for a while and avoid the “real world” of socializing–meeting people, making friends, forming authentic relationships–I need something else now. Something like friends. Girlfriends. Warmth through conversation. A sense of belonging, even community, with others. What irks me the most is that I know this has always been a sore point with me, and I’ve always been afraid of it. It’s why I drank, to avoid having to do what makes me feel uncomfortable–fearful, basically. To put myself out there, for me, is to confront and embrace human interaction.

I’m glad I didn’t drink on Christmas Eve; even now, I see that it would’ve made things easier, and probably more fun. However, in exchange, I got to confront myself and get a little bit closer to my truth, to the real story, as it were.

On that note, I’ve got a cold, so it’s off to bed (at least it’s a “legitimate” excuse to stay home!).

Mostly merry, all sober Christmas Day!

25 Dec

10:59 pm

What? Yes. Still sober. Sugared out, but still sober. I think I gained about five pounds in two days, but I’m still sober. 75 days and counting. Go, me!

And, the only sad things about today and yesterday were the somewhat minor but honestly, incessant, pangs to imbibe; and the memories of how horrible things were last Christmas due to my drinking. The memories don’t fade, which is extremely helpful to me: as they say in AA, remembering–feeling it, even–how bad it was keeps the incentive to stay sober evergreen.

I had a great few days. Lots of cooking, eating, talking, hanging, petting of dogs, hitting of beaches (well, I ran and hit the beach yesterday before our evening dinner party), etc. I mean, I felt, for the most part, GREAT not drinking. However, the longer I stay sober–and especially through days like today, where I actually felt a little left out, like I was the narc, the mother, the den leader, the dance’s chaperone–the more I see just how bad it was back then. The more I see just how bad *I* was. I was in serious denial for a long time! It’s only staying sober through it all, like holidays and times when it would be SO VERY NICE to have a glass of red wine, that I am allowed the view, y’know? Afforded the opportunity to see the subtle (in my mind) difference between “not that bad” and well, reality.

I mean, last Christmas? I spent it alone in [cold west coast city]. Alone in my studio, hung over from a ridiculous night out–also alone–which I barely have any recollection of except that I went to a Couchsurfing event almost blacked out; and eventually (after maybe going to a club, I don’t remember) brought home some dude who was thankfully NOT at my place when I woke up, completely clothed (including boots on) with a near-full bottle of Southern Comfort on my kitchen counter. (Was my blackout state not enough to clue him in that I really didn’t need anymore to drink? Maybe it was I who thought it was a good idea to buy it en route home that night because OF COURSE, it would be! I don’t even LIKE Southern Comfort! Ugh.) I spent most of Christmas Day in bed, and then forced myself to walk around, alone, in the cold, horrible [cold west coast city] fog, painfully pulling myself down hills and hoping to God(dess) that I didn’t have a panic attack in the middle of Chinatown.

This year? Worlds away. Entire galaxies. And, it makes me realize just how hurting I was.

Anyhoo, not to wallow, I just wanted to check in and say I MADE IT THROUGH another holiday of dinners and brunches SANS the grape! And, even though there were pangs, I am happy, calm, and proud to have just let them go. And, as always, they came and went and I’m still here, with my memory, pride, and self/spirit/soul intact! (I also probably saved myself thousands of calories; really, I am SO fucking full, I cannot imagine also having drunk red wine!)

I look forward to what the next 15 days, New Year’s Eve, and POST-90 looks like sober… 🙂 Merry Christmas, all!

Happy (sober) Christmas Eve…

24 Dec

10:54 am

Christmas Eve. It used to be one of my favorite days. The past few years, it’s been alternately marred by shameful drunken escapades (usually alone, usually involving sketchy people and scenarios–it’s too bright a day to go into them right now; maybe later, to convince you, if need be, that when it comes to people like us, “Oh, I’ll have just one” means grievous damage to body and soul) and life-changing volunteer trips to [beautiful island]. I went for the first time over the Christmas holiday, the second time immediately after.

Sigh. I miss [said beautiful island]. I miss [cold east coast city]. I miss my mom–oof, now there’s another crazy drunken story (remind me to tell you about last year’s Christmas Eve and the year before, blacking out in front of my mother and uncle and effectively RUINING both their evenings).

But…wait. Wait a minute…

Ahaha. Hahahah. Oh, mind, you’re SO easy. Is that what I’m really missing? When I take a look around and see just how much I have here, and how much things are different for me, emotionally? No. Because if I stop there, thinking I’m missing those things and a hundred others that take me back to my immediate past, I could let my mind trick me into thinking I miss the “life” I had. If I dig just slightly deeper, past those superficial thoughts (the kind that might have led me to that first glass of red a few years ago), I find that I’m not really missing those things, that “life.”

Sure, I miss some elements of my old life; of course, I might be waxing nostalgic; it’s possible that I’m feeling uncertain (Have I given up my independence to my detriment? Will I ever get back to [said beautiful island]?), but I’m definitely not MISSING anything. I have so much more than I’ve ever had, and that’s in addition to this cosmetic life of blue ocean, dogs, coffee and morning walks, perpetual sun (well, unless it rains), new friends, a “new” relationship where I feel safe and at home, familial and friendly ties that have either been cut, more or less, or strengthened–this is the absolute opposite of uncertainty. Tricky, feelings.

So, what’s going on? I think I simply miss the drama. I have both certainty and uncertainty now; I’ve achieved those in my time here on island (maybe it’s been my “rehab”), in my seeking out change, in my plotting a semi-freelance business, in my continual consideration of applying for another master’s (in public health) degree, in my deciding what ties to further bind and which to let go. I have those. What I don’t have is drama, and I guess if you get used to something, good or bad, for SO freaking long, you actually miss it. Not in a heartbroken sort of way, but along the same lines; you don’t know what to do without it! So, your emotional reaction is to feel longing which may be misinterpreted–it is by me, often, if I’m lazy about it–as uncertainty, missing something.

It’s a trick of the mind, though. My solution? Move forward. Do it now! Make your coffee, wash your dishes, go for that run or swim or whatever gets your energy up, make your to-do list and start doing it. Embrace the moment, the new, the now, the whatever HUGE, SOLID rock (i.e., YOUR SOBER SELF) is staring you in the face. I think it’s helpful to feel nostalgic…for a minute. Don’t let it trick you, though, and don’t let it make you think that your “life” was better; it wasn’t. You might not laugh as loud (or even want to laugh) or have sparkly conversations; your creativity might be (temporarily) compromised, and you might find yourself feeling staid or stuck. However, based on my short experience, all these things are actually going to end up serving you better–a hundred times over–than continuing to drink or use or depend on an outside substance to “make life OK.”

Sure, you can look back in your life, but I think sobriety allows you the certainty–even though you may be feeling otherwise–of KNOWING that you’re on the right path, that you’ve made the right moves, and that there is nothing to fear, regret, or want to do over! There’s something about living while sober that allows you freedom from doubt. Sure, you can change the road you’re on–you might want or need to–but, you never have to look back and wonder if you missed a turn, crashed into another car, or left skid marks on someone’s driveway.

On that note, I’m going to get myself outside to enjoy some of this pre-noon sun with a run and/or swim. Later, I think we’re heading to a friend’s get-together, then I have to come home and file a re-do on the “practice” quiche I made last night. Tomorrow, we’re going to meet some friends for brunch and then hit the beach–where else? 😉

Merry Christmas to all my sober friends out there–you’re amazing!


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