I am one week shy of one year of sobriety. I had no idea when I quit drinking that the easiest part was going to be not putting alcohol to my lips. A few weeks of reading sober blogs, like alllllll the sober blogs, to keep myself goal focused (and also really to keep myself company) in those tricky evening hours, a handful of nights of really really REALLY wanting a drink, a few anxious events that required some white knuckling it through the day. But by and large, not pouring alcohol in a glass has been the easy part. How to manage my weird little brain without self medicating is still a challenge and a bit of a mystery.
I remember carefully stepping into social activities, sort of cradling this early sobriety in my arms, not wanting it to break. That turned out to be pretty easy too. It seems I prefer not constantly having to pee at concerts and not wasting my attention and energy on trying to get buzzed enough to feel happy without getting drunk enough to draw attention to my drunkenness. I did lose a couple of “friends” when I stopped drinking. The invitations just sort of stopped and ones I extended were turned down. I find this odd because I have not been high on sobriety and spreading the word. I don’t talk about it at all unless someone asks. But even “Nah, none for me. I’m taking a break.” was enough to make a couple of people uncomfortable. And that’s fine. I have to just assume that those relationships don’t serve me at this point in time. I’m not angry about it, not even hurt by it.
On the other hand, a nurse I know casually who was a pretty hard drinker (the times I had socialized with her in the past anyway) seems to have started quietly moving along her own sober path a few months after I did. We socialize a bit more together now, neither of us talking about alcohol or sobriety beyond the first time she asked “Are you not drinking tonight?” and I said no, I had decided to take a break from that and she said she was taking a break too. I think people can sense sometimes fellow travellers. So some old connections fall away and some new ones come along.
Sobriety has not had a profound impact on my social life. Maybe because I was a secret drunk? I didn’t have relationships where alcohol was a primary activity. I have noticed that my casual, low drama mentions that I quit drinking do sometimes draw follow up questions from longtime friends who I would never have guessed are having doubts about their relationships with substances. I guess my tribe is sneaky. A long time on/off dating situation was moving out of state and in helping him pack, I found the AA book hidden in a drawer. Who knew? He was a work hard, play hard stereotype so I never thought that he thought his drinking was a problem. I never thought it was either. My tribe is sneaky. Even amongst each other, we keep it normal looking and laugh off getting trashed like that hasn’t happened since college.
Sneaky. Even as I wonder if one year of continuous sobriety is enough to drink like a normal now, what I look back at and am very glad to be rid of is the sneaking. To put no effort into hiding a drinking habit is a great relief. I can take trips without airplane bottles of vodka stashed in my suitcase. I don’t need to rotate my business through various liquor stores because I have zero business now. It is one less thing to worry about. Unfortunately, there are a million other things to worry about and I am still struggling with how to manage anxiety and live a meaningful life. But at least hiding my recycling isn’t one of them.
And I dyed my hair blonde. Bright, golden blonde. After easing in with caramel highlights since spring, I took the leap into spun gold. Just because I have never been blonde and I wanted to try it. It’s only hair, but leaping takes practice and that’s as good a place as any to start.