Yes, indeed. It actually IS.
Without going into too much detail — har har — I have a few minutes before yet ANOTHER PAIN IN MY ASS MEETING takes up the hours that I somewhat dread anyway, between 4:30 and 7; so, I thought I’d say hello and, um, dump some heavy thoughts on you. Yes, I’m good at that.
As has become apparent to me, most people who drink alcoholically are also doing it to medicate, avoid, or in general, escape. For me, I used booze. I used it for many things: to not feel bored, to not feel sad, to avoid confronting existential problems, like, What should I do with my life? and, How am I going to spend the next few minutes? and, If I spend them wrong, does that mean I’m a loser? or, Man, I don’t know what to do first, maybe I’ll drink to avoid deciding? or, I don’t know how to have fun or take a break, so I’ll drink to avoid dealing with figuring that out. And, on and on.
I realized, long before I quit drinking, that I had a very healthy fear of intimacy; sex, of course, but relationships, in general. I used booze to both avoid them and avoid having to deal with this fear while sober. As I discovered, you get exactly what you’re looking for. I was afraid of dating, of having sex sober, so I drank and got what I really wanted: pathetic, drunk sex with partners who were NOWHERE NEAR relationship material. (Then again, neither was I, and maybe that was also a variable in the equation!)
I have only dated three men in my life, long-term; the last actual relationship I was in was oh, about 8 years ago. Yes, I’ve been single for most of my 30s, mainly out of fear of being known; out of fear of someone — who is much cooler and better and more awesome, of course — finding out just how boring, or fidgety, or indecisive, or lazy, or uncreative, or [insert your favorite diss here] I really am. I avoided not just relationships, but sex. I simply couldn’t get myself to do it, sober. Too close, too intimate. What if we locked eyes and I had to reveal a feeling? What if he expected to have a, gasp!, conversation with me, sober? What would I say? Would he be interested? What if I was depressed, or unsure, or crazy, or kooky, but not his kind of kooky? Would he be OK with that? What if (IF? LOL) he was boring, or shallow, or clueless, or lame, or whatever, and I had to pretend to like him because I was lonely; or because I wanted to give someone a chance in order to feel less “strange bird”-esque for preferring to spend my nights — and days — alone, doing my own thing, at ease and deriving pleasure from that?
Best to just be drunk, to avoid it all, and then hung over, to excuse myself quietly.
What a horrible way to live, eh? And, what about me?, I ask, as I read and remember the self-berating monologue that must have been going on repeat in the back of my mind for years. YEARS.
I had a lot of social anxiety growing up, and it manifested in extreme shyness, in overstudying, in spending most of my non-school-related time alone, writing or reading; and then, sort of following my twin (or, did he follow me?) to the same university; and then, finally, discovering binge eating and binge drinking as a way to avoid it all AND make it feel better at the same time. Fast forward from my 20s to my 30s; I kept drinking the wine, and left all the other stuff behind. Or, so I thought.
Funny thing is, I had a LOT of intimate, and amazing, relationships with women over the years. And, with men who were not men I wanted to date or have sex with. So, it wasn’t all bad, but it got a lot WORSE when I started to drink to ridiculous excess, put work and career success way ahead of love, and isolate.
These days, I’m basking in the fruit of my labors: I ended up entering a relationship with a friend who I’ve known for 10 years, and I feel safe. I don’t know if he knows how difficult it was for me to basically feel the fear and do it anyway, but I’m glad I did. I don’t think there’s a magic bullet; like everything sober, it takes personal work to talk myself out of actually believing that it matters when there’s an “awkward” moment. I don’t think sober folks deal with anything different, either; they may have just learned to confront love and sex earlier than I did. Who knows?
Anyway, I could go ON and ON about this, but I’ll stop for now. Off to a new meeting. I’m a bit…anxious? I’ve never been to this one, and well, I haven’t heard much about it. My gut says that it’ll be weird, and awkward, but hey, Weird and Awkward are my closest friends these days and I promised them yesterday that I’d come out and play again today, so…
Bye, y’all! 32 days, btw!