Celebration = alcohol, right? I think that is what a large majority of people feel. I remember a family member looking at me in shock and saying, “You can’t even have one glass of champagne to celebrate New Years?” No, no I cannot. It is something that non-addicts just can’t grasp. No, I cannot have just one. Having just one for an alcoholic is laughable. What would one do? Not a thing except ruin everything I work so hard for. I may just consume one at the time, but I wouldn’t forget it and it would spiral out of control very quickly.
I don’t miss drinking. I miss being part of the group. I know I am a weirdo. Fitting in has never really been something I am great at. Alcohol gave me a common goal, purpose, thing to connect with people on. We were there to have a good time. All the time. Which turned out to be the problem, but that is a whole long story. It was a common denominator, an equalizer. Not having it makes you stand out.
I don’t hide my sobriety. I don’t hide my recovery. I don’t think I represent the majority of those in recovery. Since I am so open, I get messages and am part of conversations that many people don’t know. It is one of the reasons I write this blog. It is one of the reasons I am so open. Knowing you are not alone helps so much.
Weddings are usually thought of as a party! A party is usually includes alcohol, to most people. For me, it isn’t a temptation.It just sometimes sucks to have flat coke as the only option for me while everyone else is having fancy drinks. Or I get offered overly sweet, sweet tea while my friends have pretty glasses of wine. At a wedding I recently went to, my friend had sparkling grape juice, both red and white, and I was able to have mimosas with everyone else! I don’t know if it was for me or the kids, but it doesn’t matter. I felt included. I got to have a fun drink, too. Really, that is all I wanted.
I want to be part of things. I want a fun drink, too. It sounds childish, but it somehow makes me not stick out as much. The rest of the awkwardness is all me. Having to face the fact that you are different in every social situation can be difficult. I am married to a confident, strong, handsome man who you would think would never have social issues. But he really gets social anxiety in large crowds. He is no longer drinking and I can’t imagine how hard that is for him. I think we all get a little nervous in crowds, especially social gatherings where we are expected to talk and mingle. I use Valor essential oil and it really helps that feeling of please-don’t-talk-to-me-itus. Happy to talk about that if you want to message me.
I went to 2 weddings in the past month and had an absolute blast! I loved being part of my friend’s special day. I loved meeting new people. I even made new friends. It is fun when you find the people that are sober too. It happens naturally. You don’t stand up on a chair and yell that you can’t/don’t consume alcohol. You just find them. After 4 years of sobriety, it gets easier. It becomes more natural. You learn what to look for in the drink department and people department. You learn how to be more comfortable with yourself. It forces you to make really connections, which turn into real friendships.
I would actually encourage everyone to try going to a wedding sober one time. See the difference for yourself. I think you will find the benefits are awesome. They are enlightening. They elevate you to a higher level of consciousness. OK, maybe that went a little deep, BUT you actually dance better because you have balance and don’t look like a flailing moron, you are much better at conversation, you can remember the fun you had and no hangover!
If you can have just one or two, good for you. Just remember that there are people around you that can’t. Remember that you may not know who these people are. They maybe struggling and you have no clue. I am not asking you to not drink, I am asking you to just be aware of the people close to you that you care about.
So, thank you to the brides who planned weddings that I felt a part of. You may never know how much that means to me. Thank you for having things to do besides drink. Thank you for having drinks that don’t suck. Thank you for thinking of someone else, someone not like you. That little extra thought, meant so much to me.
To the people out there terrified of social gatherings, you are not alone. You are surrounded by people who understand. Be you. Be confident. You are strong and you can do this.