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.