NEWSFLASH: Sobriety is difficult.
Last night I had plans to go out with one of my closest friends. Which translates to: a drinking friend. We haven’t really been out since I quit. I haven’t been out. I tried blaming the lack of invites on my friends but they were quick to retort that I haven’t really been calling them or inviting them places either. So I decided to go for it…called a close girlfriend and said let’s go out. Going out has always meant bars but I figured I was ready, i could handle it. And I am lonely, a little bored…I need some girlfriend time. I had to do something for work and couldn’t meet up until 9PM so I asked where she wanted to meet. About 5PM she texted back saying, “I don’t care where we go. I am headed to get some dinner with a group of neighborhood friends. We have been drinking mimosas all day. “
I read this and reacted with anger, frustration and sadness.
I wasn’t sure why it made me mad. But I was mad. And in the spirit of honoring my feelings, I decided to just let myself be angry for a little while.
For a while I just felt like it was insensitive of her to be drunk when we were supposed to hang out later…her sober friend.
Then I thought maybe I was just jealous. Yeah, I was a little jealous.
And then I seriously considered canceling. I figured she would probably be either tired once the buzz wore off, or drunk…which meant I didn’t want to be there with her. I had been prepared to go to bars but somehow it felt different to me, arriving in a group of women who had been drinking all day. I decided to decide later and went to my work event.
Afterwards, when I got in the car, I decided just to go and see what happened. I took deep breathes, told myself it would ok. As soon as I got out of the car and walked into the group of women, I could smell the wine. A sober friend described once that sometimes the smell of alcohol will make her salivate. That’s how I felt. The smell of the wine was powerful and I did feel a strong wave of desire. My friends hugged me, they were clearly tipsy, one more than the other. The one I had plans to hang out with, she was slightly tipsy seeming but not bad at all. I felt instantly at ease. She can handle her alcohol. She rarely gets drunk. I have seen her a little drunk a couple of times and a LOT drunk only once. She is the type who paces herself and stops when she starts to feel drunk. She has self control. When we said goodbye to the larger group and got in the car to head toward downtown, the reality of where my anger had been coming from really hit me.
I am angry because sobriety is difficult. I don’t know what to do with myself. I am not comfortable going to bars. Not really. I say I am because I want to be with my friends, but that’s just me lying to myself. I don’t want to go to bars. I don’t know where I want to go and I don’t know how to behave or relax or be normal as a sober person. I am not comfortable with sobriety. I wrote yesterday, all the great things about sober living and they are all still true.
But it’s hard to be the sober one. It’s hard not drinking. And it’s harder not smoking. I am weaker than I want anyone to know. I am not ready to hang out in my old drinking places. I wish I were, but I am not. I hope I will be someday, but I am not there yet.
My friend said right away that she didn’t care where we went. Knowing that she had already spent the day in drinking mode i figured she really didn’t care, she wasn’t just saying to make me happy. So we headed to a fringe theater that I love and watched a guy do a one man show. Then we went to my favorite funky eating place and had brussel sprouts and fried chicken. We laughed and talked and had a wonderful time. She never seemed to mind that we weren’t in a bar. She is my friend, she loves me. BUT: At dinner there was a table of four to the right of me. They were sharing a bottle of red wine. The color of the wine was deep red, a really heavy looking Malbec. That’s my favorite. They were all tipsy and animated and laughing and talking. Watching them, I did want to be them. I did. Then, as though the universe was playing an evil trick on me, in spite of the smoking ban, several people around me all lit up cigarettes…I am not sure why. Here I was surrounded by the wine I used to love drinking and the smell of cigarettes drifting past my nose and I wanted to cry. But I didn’t, we paid the check. We got out of there. It was fine. I made it through. SO even though we didn’t go to bars, it was still difficult. I think that is why people who are trying to get sober hide in their houses. I can’t do that. I won’t.
Next time, I will just say, “I want to spend time with you but I am really not ready to hang out in bars yet. Would you like to go out and just hang out at places where drinking is not the focus like it is in bars?” Most of my friends are mothers and we just don’t get out that often. When we do, we always go to bars. I can understand if they don’t want to give up their one night out every few weeks to hang out with sober me, doing sober things. But hopefully they won’t mind doing it every other time….or once every few months.
In the meantime, I really do need to find some sober friends. I know you are out there, sober people. I just need to find out where sober people hang out. LOL.