Been reading a lot of posts lately from the newly sober about feeling like they’ll never have fun again, or how hard it is to go out with friends early on in sobriety and feel normal, or that “flat” feeling, etc. Let me first say that I remember that time vividly. It’s etched in my head and my heart forever because that was the time that I made up my mind that even if I never had any “real fun” ever again, it would still be better than drinking. That’s when I knew that I’d be sober forever…and forever didn’t scare me.
It didn’t scare me but it was depressing as hell. See, early on in my sobriety I wasn’t having any fun. I was sick, tired, bored, depressed, lonely, out of place, ugly, stupid and all of those other words I’d spent a lifetime drinking to avoid. I had already come through some very tumultuous emotions. I had survived the first week or so of beating the hell out of myself for being a terrible mom/wife/friend/daughter/sister/aunt every single minute of every single day until I fell into bed each night exhausted from going 249 rounds with myself. Then I had survived the highest of highs that comes with that wonderful pink cloud. The one that takes us higher and higher on feelings of self-rightousness and pride. We ride higher and higher, patting ourselves on the back all the way until one day the cloud is gone and we’re left tumbling back down to earth…into the Land of Sober.
And then there I was, on the ground again and…flat. I figured this was it…the final destination of my sober journey. I looked around and said to myself, “Well Self, this must be it. This must be the Land of Sober. Kind of grey and dreary. Depressing. No fun. I guess this is where we’ll spend the rest of our days Self…just sitting here being flat while everyone else has fun.”
Seriously people…this is actually what I thought. That all the fun was done and that just being there for my kids would have to be enough to fill up my happy account because I had overdrawn that motherfucker years ago and there wouldn’t be any more deposits being made. And, being Catholic, I thought that was my penance for being an alcoholic and that I deserved what I got.
I tried going out with friends early on to prove to myself and everyone else that I could, in fact, have fun sober. But I didn’t believe it and consequently neither did they. I remember apologizing for being such a downer and people would just smile and nod and say, “It’s okay.” Mainly because no one really knows WHAT to say to a sober person who’s acting like she just lost the only friend she had in the world because they don’t see alcohol as a friend…but I did…and it was gone.
I know there are some who sober up and have no problem carrying on like nothing has changed with a glass of tonic water in their hands instead of booze. That was not me. I MISSED it. Drinking had defined who I was and what I did for fun for so long that I didn’t have a clue how to have fun without it. I had landed in the Land of Sober with no money, no map, no reservations and no way to get any of it because I didn’t even speak the language! I was homesick. I wanted desperately to go back to the way things were BEFORE it got ugly. I wanted to go back to being a cucumber. I spent a long time depressed and homesick. But I stayed…at first for my kids but later for me because I’m a smart woman and I knew that I had to live here for the rest of my life, no matter how much I hated it.
And then one day I just got fed up with it all and decided I was going to do whatever the hell I wanted to do and screw anyone who didn’t like it. The only rule I had was that I couldn’t drink…anything else was fair game. I started looking closely at things that might make me happy rather than things that used to make me happy or things other people perceived would make me happy. I stopped accepting invitiations to go out because I only ended up miserable. I stopped entertaining because it was torture. I stopped planning vacations because I didn’t want to spend money we didn’t have to go and be unhappy. I could do that at home. I started blogging.
Eventually I began to accept my new home. I grew to love it with a passion greater than I’ve ever known. I started to figure out who I was and how I was going to fit in here. I uncovered things about myself that I never knew – that I’m a serious introvert and I really don’t like going to parties and making small talk, that I love trash TV and I’m not ashamed to say it, that I need time alone and alone with my family to recharge my batteries. That I hate baths and that no matter how many times you tell me I should take one as a “treat” it’s NOT going to make me happy. That massages are slightly uncomfortable for me but soooooo worth it when they are over.
Now I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I can finally see with clear eyes what the world was like when I was drinking and what it’s like now that I’m sober. But I’m not gonna lie, the path to get here was not easy. It was HARD. But now I go out from time to time and I enjoy it. I throw small dinner parties with close friends rather than big lavish parties. I watch as much TV as I want. I love on my family and friends and soak up their love in return. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
But moving is always hard right? And expensive, disruptive, dishearting, exhausting. But if you choose your new location wisely it’s always worth it. At least it was for me.