social struggles.

I’m cruising along in my sobriety- 5 1/2 months! The obsession to drink is not really there, most of the time. I still think about drinking sometimes; last night, in a flash of a moment, I thought about grabbing my partner’s freshly poured vodka soda and having a sip, while he was out of the room.

But it doesn’t take long for me to play out that old scene. If I had a sip, then why not have a whole drink? Would I be able to stop at one? Would I start to lie about and hide my drinking again, would the obsession start up right away or would it take some time to percolate? I honestly don’t know, but all the evidence that I have gathered in my drinking history strongly suggests that it would become quickly problematic for me. Just thinking about it makes me tired. I am so done with that. It’s just easier not to drink then start all that up again.

Not that sobriety has been all rainbows and unicorns. There has been a fair share of those- yes- enough to keep me on this path, but there are real challenges too. One of the biggest issues my thinking mind loves to fixate on is my social life. Or lack thereof.

I became isolated in my drinking. I don’t fully understand the reasons why. It’s a long story. I have always been a social person, although not always the most outgoing. I fluctuate between an extrovert and an introvert. There’s a word for that- an ambivert. I don’t want to get too hung up on labels but it was good to know that there is a middle ground in there. I don’t feel very comfortable in groups and I enjoy spending time alone and solitary activities, but I also enjoy connecting with people and I do get energized around others sometimes. If left alone too much, I struggle with feeling bored and empty.

I have spent most of my life in large groups of hard partying friends. A lot of these friends I have only known intoxicated. The intoxication has helped with my uncomfortableness in groups. Of course, growing older, my social scene has changed a lot. This happens as your friends start to have families, especially when kid number 2 and 3 start to come along. I also find that people hang out as families with their children together, and as I don’t have children, I feel a bit left out of these get togethers.

It takes a lot more effort to socialize sober for me and I am just not reaching out to build relationships with friends and their families. My partner and I are kind of existing in this little bubble right now. I still see a good handful of my girlfriends- as I’ve mentioned a lot previously, I go for regular hikes and/or meals with them, which is awesome and I am truly grateful for these relationships. But that doesn’t include my partner.

We haven’t been putting any effort into doing “couple” type activities and I worry about us. He works a lot, and on the weekends he is pretty happy to just relax, or hang out with me as we don’t see much of each other during the week. Once or twice a month he gets together with a friend or two to watch a game or go for drinks. He seems content with this. Which is awesome for him.

But I have a desire to be a part of a “group” of friends. I want us to have friends together as a couple, like we used to, back before we both started isolating and before all my friends had kids. There is a group of friends we could be part of- and I am somewhat a part of in that if there is a birthday or special occasion I go to an event with them. But I have a hard time integrating my partner into it because he can’t always attend events due to work and/or his teenage son’s obligations. Because it is so hit and miss with him attending things, we aren’t building relationships with people. What we need to do is invite other couples/families over for dinner or something- but that’s where I start to freak out because of my soberness.

At least in a group, when I was partying, I could either just connect with one or two people at a times, or I could disappear into the group. And honestly I was usually so wasted it didn’t matter to me anymore. But I feel if it’s a small group, besides just my girlfriends, and I am sober, I anticipate feeling uncomfortable and awkward, or wanting to drink and feeling irritated by it. I am generally just pretty afraid of it.

I have social anxiety.

Feels good to admit it.

I have a strong desire to connect with other sober people too. I feel like I just need to be around others that understand and can relate. I can talk to my partner and friends about it but as you all are aware, there is nothing like connecting with someone else who understands the struggle of addiction.

I worry that as I am changing my life, I am becoming more separate from my partner. I feel like we have less in common than before. A big part of what we did together was go out for food and wine. Of course this almost seems silly now, but it was a big part of our reality before.

I can easily go to the dark side about this- my brain loves to bully me about not us having enough friends, having a lonely life, nobody likes me, I am going to die alone (!), etc… And my work around this has been to stay in the PRESENT moment, acknowledge the thoughts but not necessarily believe them, and not get worked up by them. My meditation practice is helping me to recognize these super negative and destructive thinking patterns- and once I become aware that I am not my thoughts- that my thoughts are not always true, it gives them less power.

I went to a great meeting today. It is a buddhist recovery meeting but most people are 12 steppers so it has a mix of philosophies. I really enjoyed it. Afterwards two women came and introduced themselves to me and told me about other meetings they go to that they enjoy, and one woman gave me her number and told me to call if I want to go to a meeting or for coffee. It was so nice! It made me feel so much less alone in this.

I just miss being around people, connecting and being carefree.

I know I need to create this for myself, in my new reality. I just need to be patient and yet slowly move towards what I want. I want sober friends but I also want to work on re-building existing friendships with my partner. My partner says that I am “reinventing” myself and that it will take time. I hope that we will have a rich social life again.

I never want to give up the time I have to myself- I truly love it, and I need it- but I do miss that feeling of community.

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29 thoughts on “social struggles.

    • Part of it is for sure my thoughts and head- there is no reason that I need to beet myself up for my changing social life! I recognize that I still want there to be some change though.

  1. I think you will have a wonderful social life if you can wait and allow the universe to give you what you need. At least that’s what I tell myself! Be patient, accept invitations, and take some risks (but not risks that risk my sobriety). It’ll happen! 🙂

    • Thanks, Jen! That is exactly what I need to hear. It will happen. I keep reminding myself how much life can change, it always does and I’m sure it will shift again.

  2. I love that. I am like you. I do like my own space, but I also like to talk with others. Sometimes I am like my mom and will talk to strangers wherever I am. I am finding most people seem happy to be spoken too and almost always engage. I try to make any interaction positive. It is amazing how much it lifts me up.

    But finding couple friends is tough. I would give it more time. This will be easier when you wan to socialize at home more. I am still not at this point, even at 14 months. I definitely don’t want others drinking at my house, and I really don’t want the pressure of being the host yet.

    My hubby and I also spend a lot more time alone than we ever did. He golfs a lot during. Golf season, and I do yoga. So we also spend a lot of time apart. But golf is social and yoga is less social….

    Like is long. We will find new friends in the least expected places. I am going to bring my daughter to Harry Potter night at the local library. Maybe we will find friends there.

    You are doing great.

    Anne

    • I totally agree- it is so nice to talk to strangers sometimes 🙂 Yes you are right- life is long. I have had lots of friends in my life and lots of changes in friends as life shifts. Thanks for your hopeful reminder. It helps me a lot. xo

  3. A Buddhist meeting sounds great. Wish I could find one in my area. I have been planning to go to introduction to meditation groups. Have you read “One Breath at Time”? It is a 12 step book for Buddhists. Can’t remember the author right now but I think it is listed on my page under Sober Reading. I haven’t finished it yet but your post reminds me to start it again.

    • Hey 365! I have been loving the buddhist recovery meetings. There are a few different ones in my area. I don’t know where you are, but have a look at this site, this is one of the meetings I go to: http://www.refugerecovery.org/meeting-listings/
      They are adding new meetings in new cities all the time. It is a growing movement.
      I have that book too- One breath at a time, but I also haven’t finished it! I need to.

  4. Thanks for the continuing courage to share your journey with us. I wish you well on walking your own path. As someone once said to me, “You have to do it for you.”

  5. This is a great post..you put so clearly into words what so many people feel in early sobriety.
    I think that the solution is in patience….your meditation practice will help. I find I am always bringing myself back around to things unfolding in the way that they are supposed to.
    51/2 months sober is so great! Give it a little time. I like what anne says, we do fond new friends in the least expected places, and I am sure that as you start moving out into the world more (I love the Buddhist meeting!), you will begin to open more to new people. This while sobriety thing is a change for your partner too…so allowing him some time to settle in is good.
    You are asking the right questions…that’s where it all starts.

    • Hey Mish, thank so much. I totally agree that patience is the answer. Patience and openness.

      I love what you say here; my mom used to say to me “the universe is unfolding as it should”. I get so much peace from that. That is my HP!
      Also what you say about this being new for my partner too is so true. It’s easy to forget how this might impact him. It is a big change for us as a couple. I am lucky that he is very supportive of my sobriety. And I don’t want him to quit drinking. I actually feels it takes the pressure off me not drinking if he can still drink when we go out with people… at least one of us is still fun! 😉 just kidding. But he has wondered if he should quit drinking so we can focus on making sober friends together, but I really do want to focus on growing friendships with both sober and non-sober people. I still know a lot of great people who drink that I still want in my life!

      • you know, i have lots of sober and non-sober friends in my life too. If I hd a partner who still drank I am certain they would know my sober friends, and i would not have dropped my non-sober friends. I love his offer, obviously not an alcoholic…so if you go out with sober friends let him not drink, he can handle it. Just as you won’t drink when you go out with non-sober friends.
        The thing is, we are not just sober, right? we are all sorts of things, and whether we drink or not, in my opinion, shouldn’t make a difference. if it does then those are not the people for us.

  6. I found this post very moving. I think patience and acceptance are key here. And faith that what you need will come to you if you keep your heart open to possibilities. 5 and a half months is so great and a testament to your strength and determination.

  7. I completely understand how you feel, completely. I am 14 months sober, and still struggle with going out, and going to social situations. It has taken all this time to ever WANT to go anywhere that alcohol is the main event. It takes time, and acceptance.
    We went to a Super Bowl party last night, and it was only because MY team was playing that I was not watching everyone else drink. Distraction made me more comfortable.
    It all comes with time, it is a journey not a destination.
    Stay strong, it all comes together.

    • That game broke a lot of hearts out here on the west coast! I’m guessing you’re a Patriots fan… so congrats!
      Thanks for the kind words and advice. I am sure it will come with time. It means so much to me knowing that you understand and can relate. I’d be so lost without this community. I just wish we could all hang in person! Problem would be solved. xo

  8. It can be really hard socialising sober. I hear you when you say “my name is ClearLee and I have social anxiety”… I never realised I was socially anxious until I stopped drinking, and only then did I realise how much I drank because I was anxious. I drank to reduce anxiety and after a few drinks any anxiety or shyness dissolved away and I became party person. I’m lucky enough to have had some counselling about the anxiety and if it’s available for you I’d recommend it. If it’s not your thing then just remember that no-one is judging you. Being sober is liberating, but we have to ‘get over ourselves’ which is meant in the nicest way! I often think when I’m socialising that everyone is looking at me thinking who is that weirdo not drinking. Well they are not! Unfortunately I don’t have any answers, but others keep promising me that it takes time to rebuild a new sober social life, but it does happen. It will happens for all of us. Good luck 🙂

    • That’s a good idea. I’ve had counselling for a lot of things but never the social anxiety, because, like you, I never realized it was such a problem before I got sober. I might see how the next few months go, and if it’s still an issue then I’ll look into getting some support. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  9. This is so much like me! Apart from the fact that I’m more of an introvert. and luckily, although my husband still drinks, he has cut down and we don’t go to pubs anywhere near as much as we used to.
    We also don’t have kids, which is a barrier in a way (partly because of me) to socialising with our friends who have young families.
    I’m at six months now, and I’ve hit a phase of being happier with myself…I’m appreciating it whilst I can!! And I’m hoping that as I progress in my sobriety, a new social life will emerge 🙂
    I’d so love to find a group to be part of though. I’ll have to look out for something in my area… 🙂

    • We are close in the sober count! I just started following you so I will have to go back and get to know you 🙂 So lovely to hear that you are in a happy phase. It is so nice to feel at peace and I definitely have many more moments of that sober. Thank you so much for commenting. I am sure all will work out for us in the friend department.

  10. You know, Lee, what you says resonates with me. I am at over 3 1/2 yrs and I still am there. I was never very social, even when drinking. Introvert all the ways, and it’s much worse now. Sure, I have people at work to chat with, and I certainly have my online folks I am friends with, but in the “real” world, I have very, very few friends. I never go out. Even meetings (which I haven’t been to in 6 weeks) I don’t really chat much. I do have my days though where I chat my neighbour’s ear off or something like that, so I know I need to have others to talk to. We’re hard wired for that. I think we just all are different that way – some can chat with someone in a line up. I am not one of them.

    Conecting with others in sobriety is a necessary “evil” for me. Terrible word, but sometimes it feels like that! But in the end, when I do get to talk to other alcoholics, I feel a great sigh of relief. I do enjoy it. I am not ready (or may never be) to go sober bowling or sober campking or sober whatever, but I am always grateful to have others around me who understand 🙂

    Paul

    • Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your experience. There are definitely a billion different ways to live a life and I think it’s key to find out what makes you happy. Part of it is letting go of what we think we “should’ be like and finding out what we are truly like. If you’re an introvert and you don’t need a lot of social interaction, and you’re happy with that, then that is awesome.
      I sometimes wonder about my own motivation… do I feel like I need to be a part of a group because that’s what a) I’ve known and b) I think that is what I should be doing? What do I feel I am missing without a group?
      I also wonder if I feel I need a group of friends because I don’t have children and I feel that I need friends to make up for a family… like who is going to look in on me when I am old? Haha, Just kidding (but not really).
      Anyways, all stuff to ponder on… 🙂

  11. What a great post, you have so much clarity and self-awareness… I am in awe! It sounds like you’ve clearly defined your issue and your goals, now you just need to develop some compassion and patience, because, as your partner says, reinvention is a process. It sounds like you are on the right track, though, heading out to some meetings (I LOVE the idea of a Buddhist recovery meeting, I need to find out if there’s one in my neck of the woods!). You are doing so great, I can’t wait to read more!

  12. Hi there, thanks for finding my blog! I’m dealing with very similar stuff right now with developing friendships in the program while wanting to incorporate my partner more in a joint social life. Any chance you’re in the Bay Area? (You can email me directly at airofelsewhere@gmail.com).

    I also have to second the recommendation for One Breath at a Time; it’s helped me immensely in connecting 12 steps to a spirituality that makes sense to me. I look forward to reading more from you!

    • Hello 🙂 I’m glad I found your blog, I was reading it yesterday thinking it sounds like we have a lot in common! Unfortunately I’m up in Canada though. Look forward to reading more from you too!

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