Living sober in this world obsessed with alcohol can seem is hard. After all, how do you “do” birthdays, weddings, work parties, national holidays, Christmas? The Fourth of July? For those of you who do—how do you date? Or, how do you come home after work and not have your daily Scotch or a beer “to take the edge off”? And, if you’ve never felt pressured to have drinks with work colleagues or classmates, you are a lucky and rare specimen!
The Western world drinks. Period. Not alcoholically, but it is something that’s completely socially acceptable, looked upon favorably and, most importantly, associated with FUN. “FUN” is almost synonymous with “Alcohol” if you’re an adult in America. It is for many of us a rite of passage to get drunk for the first time and do ridiculous things, least of which is throwing up all over ourselves.
To which I say: How can you possibly have FUN without throwing up all over yourself? How can you claim to enjoy work parties if you haven’t embarrassed yourself telling your boss what you really think about the new initiative? What kind of FUN is remembering how your date ended? Is it FUN waking up right on time after a night off with your partner to pick up the kids the next morning? And how FUN is it to have a night off with your partner if you just enjoy the experience without pairing it with alcohol?
I think you get the point. Living sober is about living through your experiences—bad ones and good ones—without adding anything to them that would either diminish or expand them. My adult life before sobriety was busy, crazy and, technically, quite fun. But I don’t remember a lot of it. I have pictures and recollections of friends, I have good stories and some of them are those “legends” that you always repeat among your group of peers so that you think that you remember but you actually might not. (You might’ve not even been there!)
After getting sober, I got to remember everything, and let me tell you, it is so much better—it’s like switching from a broken typewriter to a new laptop. Yes, the beginnings were difficult and every FUN situation where alcohol used to play the supporting role (though let’s face it, where alcohol was actually the lead), was a challenge. I was like a newborn baby, re-learning everything, including all the things I used to be good at, such as partying. Sober, I didn’t know what to do with my hands at parties, I didn’t know how to be a host, how to talk to people, how to relax.
I didn’t understand how it was possible to not die of boredom if the rest of my life had to be lived sober—I mourned alcohol just as I would mourn a best friend who perished. But I didn’t drink over it.
And the longer I kept not drinking, the more the world opened up to me and revealed its real beauty—it was no longer obstructed by too many five-finger poisons-on-the-rocks or a crushing hangover the next morning. I saw it and started to enjoy it as it was. My life became real, and once I saw its reality, I hung on to it. And then, eventually, once things got a little less serious—after I’ve gone through a few awkward parties and at least one sober wedding—FUN started sneaking in. With some time sober, I got to truly enjoy everything to its fullest. I enjoyed my family, our celebrations, our travels, sailing, eating out, quiet evenings at home. I still do, of course. I enjoy all of those things and I have FUN. I believe that you, too, can have FUN even if it seems terrifying at first.
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