Tag Archives: socializing

You should get out more

13 Oct

3:46 pm

Uh huh. Yup. I know, right?

I’ve learned not to take these comments from others to heart, to learn what I can from them, and well, to respect my process. Which has been to slowly but surely–as head and heart dictate–come out when I’m ready. When I’m wanting to. When I’m getting my mojo back, as Paul at Message in a Bottle so aptly described what seems to be happening to me lately.

Yesterday, October 12th, was the anniversary of something really horrible happening after a night out drinking (4 years ago) and something really amazing happening, which was that 1 year ago yesterday, I’ve gone for one whole year sober minus one day. Technically, I’ve got…208 days. Which is cause for celebration, methinks!

While I felt mostly pissed off and cheated and wanting to drink last night (yup, that shit still comes around and usually takes me off guard by how gale force it is!), I went to brunch today. I felt like it. I invited my neighbors, and we had some great conversation. (They were drunk, which made it easier for them to talk to me, I know. It did me some good: drunk people are VERY forthcoming, and they’re “good people to know” when it comes to getting into the somewhat closed circles here.)

Anyhoo, I’ve been feeling like “it” more and more, and that includes talking to people and not feeling exhausted after it’s over. LOL

I was reading a book the other night on happiness, and how to be happier. The author says that cutting out the things that you don’t need to do, or that suck time, is key. When I first got sober, I could only focus on not drinking, and I cut out a lot of things. I cut out my old job. I cut out making new friends. I cut out “frivolous socializing.” I cut out AA–it was too emotionally draining and it served to piss me off more often than not. I cut out a lot of things, I had to. That was my process, and it’s worked for me. I knew I had to figure out how to stop drinking and stay stopped on my own time. I had to learn how to derive the desire and motivation to not drink, and not be able to refer to a list of equations, as it were.

One of the most important things for me in staying sober has been to be honest with myself, not necessarily anyone or everyone else. Just because you’re not venting to the world, and admitting how horrible you feel to your 50 closest friends doesn’t mean you’re not working on it. Just because you put dealing with painful memories or emotions on the back burner doesn’t mean you won’t come back to them, and that they won’t get worked out.

I have to say, I feel a thousand pounds lighter than I did last year on October 12th. My mojo is coming back–I want to work, and I want to be more social again. My bigger-picture thinking skills are coming back; like, I can take in a lot more information and put it into place, without having it affect me, or my feelings, or my memories to the point where the pot gets too stirred and I feel overwhelmed. 95 percent of me is glad; the other 5 percent is like, Fuck you, man. I had to become a navel-gazing hermit for a year to want to want again?

Anyway, like I said, I was in a bad mood last night. But, I woke up this morning and made the choice to not carry it into the next day. I call it selective memory–and not the kind that happens when you black out! I also got some rejections to my story pitches. But, I made the choice to forget about it and move on–there are a hundred reasons as to why, none of which involve me, personally, or my talent, ability, and motivation to do a good story.

Slowly but surely, I’m coming ’round. The things I didn’t want to talk about last year, I’ve confronted. I’ve dealt with past trauma and mended my ways, so to speak. Some of the things I cut out last year, I’m adding back in. Mostly, things are righting themselves. Just the act of stopping drinking fixes a lot of problems that you don’t necessarily want or need to face all at once, head-on, right when you get sober. Some of the most painful of the ruminating is caused by the drinking; some of it, in the case with depression or anxiety, is not. It’s up to you, and your honesty with yourself, to figure it out. And, figure it out you will. Just not all at once.

Looking back, this has been a great year. I wish some things would’ve happened sooner (as in, socializing leads to networking leads to a job leads to a savings account), but they didn’t. Oh, well, that’s been my process. Drive your own drive, as one of my friends likes to say.

It takes all kinds, even drunk people

26 Aug

7:31 pm

I went to a day-long “party” yesterday–started with a late lunch and ended with a dip in the hot tub, a home-cooked pasta dinner, a night swim in the pool, and watching the MTV music awards. All kinds of people were there: normal drinkers, non-drinkers, and drunks (at least for the night). And, after all this time, I’m starting to both know and respect my limits–and surprisingly enough, others’!

It was so ordinary for me to not drink that I didn’t feel any of the usual weirdness. I wasn’t drinking–normal. I wasn’t engaging in loud chitchat–these people have never seen me do that. I wasn’t stumbling around, being overly emotional or obtuse or offensive–not even in the realm of possibility when I’m my sober (contained) self. I also wasn’t thinking, Oh, I wonder if everyone thinks I’m as lame as I feel?…because I wasn’t feeling lame. I was feeling calm, proud, self-possessed. I was feeling perfectly fine being sober, as if, being sober was just one of the infinite variations on being. Being sober simply doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t separate me from others. It doesn’t distinguish me as something else. You’re drinking, I’m not. Carry on.

Am I glad I wasn’t babbling on and embarrassing myself through an acidic, blurry haze? YES. Am I glad I was able to get up at 11:30 and say, Welp, it’s time for me to go, I’ve got ‘Breaking Bad’ to watch at midnight? Fuck yeah. Am I glad to not be hung over? Uh, that NEVER gets old!

What’s different, I guess, is that I really wasn’t paying all that much attention to what and how much everyone else was drinking. Most people, I’ve realized, don’t even GET the concept of sobriety, let alone have it in themselves to judge anyone for being sober–especially in a setting where they’re getting their fix. I think most people are just too busy having a lot of fun, having a little fun, or not having fun to worry about what anyone else is doing at a party.

Sure, I noticed there was champagne, but I felt too bloated to really care. I might have said no anyway had I not been sober (I have a short fuse on champagne). I was actually really thirsty toward the end of the night, and as I was drinking my bottled water, I did notice one person cracking open beer after beer; and what I thought foremost was, Wow, that looks SO like the opposite of what I want right now (which was water), not, Wow, she’s drinking a lot and really fast, maybe I should waste two brain cells contemplating HER choices?.

One thing I do when I start to feel “thoughtful” about my not drinking (like, wondering what others are thinking of me, if they’re thinking anything) is I relax. I literally make my body go slack, take a deep inner breath, and try to project this feeling of inner calm to the outside. I KNOW from experience that when most people are drinking, they’re not thinking AT ALL about those sober folks in the room. And, if there is a split-second thought of, Oh, what a wet blanket, it fades in the next instant and is replaced by the all-consuming, Where’s the wine (or beer, or vodka, or weed, or whatever)? Projecting a sense of calm to those who have been reduced to lower-brained mammals seems to me the best way to say, I am doing fine, thanks, and get them to back down and think it was their idea. 😉

While I didn’t necessarily want to drink, I had one familiar moment of, Aww, this is SO not going to be fun/Aww, this would be SO much more fun and I’d feel SO much more a part of it if I was drinking. It was fleeting, a minor blip. What a relief, after over 14 months from my initial sober date, to finally be at a point where it feels practically normal–and good–to be sober in social settings? Let me be the first (not) to tell you: it gets better. It does, it does, it does. Your mind recovers, literally. You BECOME sober, which means that it doesn’t happen overnight. But happen, it DOES. I mean, I NEVER would have thought I could socialize sober and enjoy it– and here I am, beginning to do so.

What am I trying to say? I guess that both drinking and not drinking has become almost a non-issue these days. Within a matter of weeks, actually, that table has turned. There is a point–at least for some people, including myself, who maybe USED wine but wasn’t ultimately DEPENDENT on it–where the cravings and obsession and thoughts of drinking die down enough to be replaced by thoughts of what to do with your career, and what to do in your relationship, and everything else that’s important. I don’t want to say that I’ll be drinking again–most likely, no. However, nothing in life is black and white–a personal mantra that gets stronger and stronger with every single passing day of sobriety.

(Maybe my “dip”-turned-month-long depression finally lifted? Like someone smart once said, and I’ll say it again, Carry the fuck on!)

Everything scares me…a little bit

10 Jul

12:57 pm

Well, we all know that I spend a good part of my day inside my head. Does that mean I, myself, am oblivious to this? No! Does that mean that I don’t believe it serves my recovery? Hell’s no! Which is why, I beg of you, to bear with me on this post; I promise, there IS a point.

Everything scares me…a little bit.

Just what I said. I have a friend coming to town this weekend, and instead of being excited (which I am), I’m nervous. She and I have never really hung out, sans booze, in any kind of “domestic” capacity. We never went over to each other’s apartments, we went to the bar! In fact, our entire friendship was based on nights out, mutual commiserating. It scares me a little bit to socialize, in general, but it also scares me to anticipate what I’m dreading might be a lot of awkward moments, pregnant pauses, and maybe even some insistence on “what the fuck happened, your life is WAY different now, WAY better!” Maybe I’m scared of holding my own in the face of my successful recovery–I’m so used to being down, I guess, that it’ll be weird to “show off” my new life. (Maybe success makes me feel uncomfortable?)

I’ve got some decisions to make soon, one of which involves biting the bullet and likely getting back into the full-time workforce, maybe going to school part-time on the side. Which will involve a LOT of people, and places, and things I’ve been avoiding as triggers since I got sober last summer.

Deep breath. I’m sure I’ll rally, and take this as it comes. One of the things that getting sober has allowed me to see about myself is that, I want to drink when I’m confronted with something that scares me. And, quite frankly, everything scares me…a little bit.

I don’t know if it’s FEAR per se; it’s more like doubt (uncertainty): Can I do this sober? Will the stress be too much?

I have to re-learn how to learn new things, I think.

Sobriety is not just about avoiding the “people, places, and things” that made you want to drink; it’s about crafting a new life, and one that includes new people, places, and things–that don’t make you want to drink. And what, pray tell, ARE these things that don’t make me want to drink? Discovering what those are is, in a nutshell, LIFE.

I mean, I used to be (am?) a science reporter, and I think aspects of that career drove me to drink. Yet, I am used to the sense of accomplishment I got from this career, and I am used to knowing how to apply this to my framework of the world. I know, though, that if I am truly committed to a “new” way of life, I have to confront the possibility that this career might be more harmful, painful, and addictive than anything else (it involves a lot of competition, a lot of ego, a lot of outside validation).

On the other hand, do I have it in me to switch careers? Do I really want to? How accurate are my projections of having the money, the time, and the focus, at 39 years old, to earn another degree? I don’t know myself that well right now, is what I’m saying. I know how “old me” would have tripped through these decisions, what framework of the universe I was working with. Now, I’m not sure what I hold most dear, what my universal laws of personal physics are! It’s like, I am learning not just new ways of coping, but new ways of learning how to cope.

Journalism is exhausting, but it’s the ultimate high. Can–and should–I relinquish this for something “less” rewarding? I could, for instance, teach, or do grant writing, or write fiction (yes!). A part of my mind–that part that is the source of some of my avoidance/addictive behavior-cries out, Nooooo, DDG! You can only do this one thing, because this one thing is what you’ve always done!

Ugh. “Alcoholism” is SUCH a mental game; I’m beginning to realize it has nothing to do with wine and everything to do with long-held “life philosophies.” Trying something new is often what caused me to drink–not because I don’t like it or I’m afraid of it, but because I believe that I’m wasting time NOT doing what I “should” be doing, what became “too hard,” what I KNOW I can win at, if “just keep trying.” Life philosophies like this are hard to even articulate let alone begin the process of overhauling.

A simpler–and more positive–way to approach this is: My work might not be healthy for me; a relationship might not be healthy for me–do I have the courage to try (to learn) something new, something different?

I had a friend whose literal life refrain was, It’s a process. And, if I can keep that in mind over the next few weeks and months, I’ll consider myself “successful.”

On a final note, you know what’s crazy? I’ve been so busy thinking about other stuff that I haven’t even checked my day count in at least a week! September 9th will be 25 weeks, so that makes today…114 days! Woot! Rock on, me, and fuck you, wolfie!

Binge drinker, or alcoholic?

2 Jul

6:46 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of posts lately that are asking that same pesky question: Am I really an alcoholic?

I’ve written about it here, and there. And, like a lot of things, my idea of what the answer to that question is has changed over the course of getting sober. One thing, however, has remained consistent in my mind: It doesn’t matter. If you were running around town with a bleeding abscess on your leg, would you spend your last hours trying to figure out what it is, or would you stop running around and bandage it up?

If I only binge drink, am I truly an alcoholic?, I used to ask myself. I know plenty of binge drinkers, and I’m sure you do, too. Not all binge drinkers are the same, though. I was a binge drinker who blacked out and did and said crazy-belligerent things. Did I ever drink more than two bottles of wine? No. I’d drink a full bottle, and was blacked out either before or no later than the end of the second. Might someone consider me a “binge drinker” but not a “full-blown alcoholic?” Probably.

I remember feeling like a fraud at AA, when I’d leave meetings after conversations with men who drank like, WAY MORE than I did (one guy said he could drink 40-something shots and still be standing). However, whether or not I binged, sipped, skipped days, never drank before or after this, that, and the other–I used wine. I drank it compulsively (with a powerful, distracting psychological “need”), and it turned me into a crazy bitch with hangovers from the veritable Pit of Satan.

It was only after I left the rooms, after I cleared out the noise–the steps, the labels, the comparisons–that I was able to see a glaring fact: I drank alcoholically. Maybe I was a binge drinker, or an alcoholic, no matter. I drank alcoholically. Maybe I’ve simply been a lightweight my whole life? Maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. The point is, I was drinking to blackout almost every night, and I needed to make a change.

That’s not to say that binge drinking isn’t a common thing. Most–or at least, many–people simply GET TO THE POINT QUICKER, as the comments in this story at Jezebel suggest. They realize that the tradeoff for getting buzzed simply gets to be too much, unbearable, and/or unmanageable. How is that different for any of “us?” We’re not that different from others, actually. We use booze to fix shit, just like them. We bounce around finding the best ways to not have hangovers, or to avoid debilitating ones after we turn 30. The difference seems to be, we don’t stop using booze even when the tradeoff gets to be too much.

I am a binge drinker and therefore, I binge drink. I am an alcoholic, and therefore… What? The closest I’ve come is: and, therefore, I DRINK ALCOHOLICALLY. Each and every one of us, however, has to define exactly what *drinking alcoholically* means. For me, it means that I drink to fix, to numb, to avoid. To excite, sure, but it’s become more of a psychological crutch than a way to get high. At some point, the fact that I was using wine instead of food, or whatever, stopped being as important as my growing need to start living better, stronger, freer.

Here’s the thing, though: at 100-some days, and, minus a few slips, over a year of sobriety; I no longer give a shit to define “what I am.” Who cares? Drinking makes me feel “good” for about an hour, and then it makes me feel tired, fat, unhealthy, hungover, remorseful, etc. Drinking almost always leads to me blacking out, which is not uncommon, but which is cause for concern for anyone, whether a once-in-a-while drinker, binge drinker, or “alcoholic.”

I don’t have any apologies left, which is why when I’m around people who are drinking, I don’t care who’s got questions. I’ve got answers, though. Why don’t I drink? I don’t want to feel like ass the next day. I can’t drink AND go running. I literally don’t have the time. Why should I consider these excuses rather than simply pretty good answers? And, should I turn it around and ask, Why are you drinking? It’d be interesting to sit back and watch most people find it difficult to avoid the obvious: we’ve all been socially indoctrinated with the idea that it’s not only encouraged, but advised to drink to fix, to celebrate, to numb, to have “fun.”

I think what I’m saying is, it just doesn’t matter what you “are.” You don’t have to “be an alcoholic” to stop drinking alcoholically, or, to stop drinking, period.

I’m coming out…

16 Mar

10:42 pm

soon. Very, very soon. I think. I guess.

Lately–well, today especially–I’ve been feeling like I need to get out more. I do, it’s true. I work from home, I have no professional network down here, and I’ve perhaps become complacent in having my boyfriend as my sole/primary source of social life.

The thing is, I don’t know how to be all that “social” without drinking. And, if I do recall, I didn’t want to drink with others not just because I didn’t want to drink like a lady, but because I just liked being alone. Sober or drunk, I like being alone. In fact, I’ve spent a LOT of days, nights, weeks, years–as a journalist, as a drinker, as a 20- and 30-something–getting to know other people. I’m kind of digging getting to know myself. Spending all my time with myself. I feel like people want me to apologize for this, and it pisses me off.

I’m not going to apologize, and I’ve been doing my thang long enough to know that it’s quite all right to let what other people think I should be doing with my time go in one ear and out the other. I have been ignoring the crowds since I was a kid, and it’s never made me feel “happy,” but I’m not necessarily seeking happiness rather contentment, peace, creative expression.

It also bugs me when “grownups” think it’s all about them. Just because I’m not hanging out with you doesn’t mean I don’t like you and/or I don’t want to hang out with you. Maybe I’m, y’know, getting sober and going through my own shit? Did you ever ask, or wonder? Maybe I’m going through my own awkward time figuring out how and what to do as a sociable sober person. Bottom line is, it has NOTHING to do with you.

Luckily, for some reason, getting sober has allowed me to take a big step back and give–excuse my French–much, MUCH less of a fuck about other people’s drama and bullshit. I don’t need to get upset; I really don’t allow myself. And this, somehow, is happening without much effort on my part.

What’s more, I feel like enough of a loser sometimes because I don’t socialize, but even more because I don’t want to, as a sober person. And now I have to defend myself against people who force me to be the empathetic one and lay out gently but non-offensively what *they’re* missing and how *their* reaction is not acceptable to me?

Not a good way to end my otherwise good day (I pulled myself through a 6-mile run, and am now feeling relatively pain-free, so that’s A+-awesome!). I wanted to drink over it tonight. I looked at the calendar and realized that I’m probably, deep down, just waiting for the night I allow myself to drink again. (For the record, I would have zero desire to go to the bar to do it!) Am I simply living the same way, just not drinking? Have I made any progress then?

Yeah, I do “need to get out more,” but I refuse to pressure myself right now. I don’t care what anyone else or the little voice inside my head is saying–talk to the hand, bitches! 🙂

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