I went out last night. Since getting sober, I haven’t actually been “out out,” as in, out to a bar where other people were drinking and I had to fend for my poor, little, 38-year-old self. I mean, I’ve been to dinner parties, brunches, beach outings, and even bars, but it wasn’t to “go out” (we went to see a band last night).
And, well… I felt so insecure! So uncomfortable! So awkward! Dare I say, Weird and Awkward! And, without booze to hold onto, I felt vulnerable. I felt like I was in college again. GAH. NO!?!? And, I was so far up in my own head that at times, it was really hard to fake that I was having fun.
BUT, I learned something about myself. I’ve known it for a long time–my whole life. Sometimes–like when I was learning calculus–you just need to see it from a different angle to actually GET IT. I got it last night: I create entire realities in my head when it comes to what others are thinking of and about me, and one, probably none of it is true, and two, who gives a shit if it is?
I have to imagine that we all feel insecure sometimes, introverts moreso than extroverts. A mere sampling of my thought “process” during these times:
I wonder if they think I’m boring/I bet they do, I bet they think I’m boring/OH, GOD, why am I being so awkward, what with all these pauses and looking away/I have to look away, but now, oh, fuck, now I bet they think I’m being rude or disinterested when really/you’re standing too close to me and I really don’t know what to say and for some reason, I feel like I’m 18 again and not 38/it hurts I want out it hurts I want out/I want to curl up in a ball and roll on OUT OF HERE
Yup. That’s me. ME. That’s what’s going on inside MY HEAD. However, being sober and having to simply deal with it, I had the opportunity last night to observe these thoughts–not only look at these thoughts, but look at them from a different perspective, namely, not my own.
I glanced at the person I was talking to and told myself, Y’know, he’s probably faking it, too, has no idea what to say, might even be feeling more awkward and shy than I am! I had a quick conversation with a former, let’s just say, drinking buddy in front of the restroom; he got sober last year and we chatted very briefly about how he’s drinking again (and having no luck moderating) and how I’m not. “I feel really good where I’m at right now,” I said, breezily (it’s not like I’m falling apart on the outside, just in one corner of my brain). He was noticeably impressed, and congratulated me. Someone else did, too, when I told him that I had 16 weeks. What I’m saying is, other people are not just NOT thinking I’m weird and awkward in my sobriety, but they’re happy for me, even maybe envious! People are rooting for me. And what am I doing? Creating an entire universe in my head that does not exist, based upon my own self-conscious insecurities.
Almost more importantly, I realized that 85 percent of the peeps in the room were in their own, drunken worlds. Who’s going to even remember me, let alone remember that I was sober?
Hence, my sparkling (the glitter rained down, too, I swear) revelation: I don’t need to drink. In fact, I prefer to be sober. IN SPITE OF HOW AWKWARD I felt, and even in spite of the pangs. The pangs were just my body saying, I want to get the fuck out of here because *I feel uncomfortable.* Somehow, my higher brain pulled through and was like, You need to do this to learn/grow, and honey, you know you really don’t want to drink, right? I wanted to use wine to momentarily allow me to feel protected from my raging thoughts. How sadly ironic, seeing how the point of going out and socializing is to be with others, right?
YET, I didn’t drink. Why?
1. I would be sick the next day. (Do I even have to go into 2-10? Who wants to feel sick the next day?)
2. I would get fuck all done the next day, and then I would hate on myself.
3. I would have a horrible hangover, complete with anxiety/panic, depression/suicidal ideation, and general existential angst. (Shit’s not 19 anymore, peeps! It happens.)
4. I would have stupid conversations that I don’t remember, instead of attempts–give yourself a high five for trying–at meaningful ones that I do!
5. I would act like a fucking idiot, dancing and singing and swaying and in general, being WAY too out there. I’ve been out there; I want to coil myself back in. I’m MINE, not yours.
6. I would say shit I don’t mean, or might regret.
7. I would spend too much money.
8. I would consume too many calories. (Hey, y’all, that belly weight is tough to shed; I’m tired of one step forward, two steps back!)
9. I would fuck up my training body and schedule. (I’m finally getting my running legs (and core strength) back, and I’m on a workout schedule now.)
10. I won’t find out what happens AFTER 16 weeks.
I’d say that number 10 is playing a huge role in keeping me from giving in to my pangs. My “fuck it” moments seem to last not moments, but days–I have time to ruminate over the consequences, and they ultimately end up pointing my face toward the door that says, “Don’t Even THINK About Knocking.” More and more, I see how far I’ve come and I think, Well, if you stop now, you’ll probably NEVER get to 17 weeks, or 6 months, or a year. Could things be monumentally different than they were at day 1, than they are now? Maybe… I’ll just have to keep going to find out.