I didn’t realise it at the time, but I always had a front when I was drinking. It wasn't until I stopped that the front fell away and I realised how awkward I could feel without wine. It’s funny, but because I didn't drink at all in the day I didn't associate the two things, and yet if I’m honest, I drank so much at night, that in the mornings I was always probably just riding the wave of the night before.
Everyone has a different way that they choose to portray themselves to others. My front looked capable, strong, in control, able to deal with stressful situations and most of all confident and chatty. All of these things were things that didn’t come naturally to me.
Since I’ve been sober I’ve moved away from many of my old circles. I’m not as social as I was. In fairness, a lot of the time, I don’t even miss it as I’m so busy, but at other times I do. It’s a hard balance to get right. It’s difficult when you’re older to meet new people, we aren’t forced into situations like sitting with people we don’t know at school, and this lack of enforcement can make it easier to avoid. We can isolate ourselves without meaning to, and that makes socialising harder. I’ve always felt like I didn’t quite measure up, that I wasn’t really good enough, and I hated feeling that way. It was hard to meet friends or join groups, because I expected that I wouldn’t fit it, so I didn’t really give anyone a chance.
A few weeks ago I heard that another Bee Sober Ambassador was coming on holiday to my neck of the woods, and she messaged me inviting me to meet up. So I did. I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, and although it made me nervous, I went. As I worried, I tried to work out exactly what it was that was worrying me and I realised, I actually had very little to worry about. I didn’t have to explain I was sober, because we both are. I didn’t have to worry about where we were going to go for food or drinks because she was in the same boat as me. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I was safe and I had very little to actually worry about.
Do you know what? We had a lovely time. It could have stressed me out, parking was hideous, and I couldn’t fit my car in any of the tiny spaces, so I was late, but she understood. We met at the beach, and then we just played in the waves. Talking to someone who I understood and who understood me was fantastic. We might not share the same experiences, but we got each other. Later, after the beach we went for a coffee and the conversation flowed. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t and neither did she. It was a relief.
So, like when I joined my cold water swimming group, expecting them not to like me, and found that they did, I’m going to keep trying. It’s taken me a long time to discover who I am without the alcohol, but now I know, I’m enjoying getting to know other people too. It won’t always be easy, there will be bumps in the road, but that doesn’t mean I’ll fall. And if I do, I know I have people around me now to catch me.
Take care of yourselves,