Last weekend, I went out. Granted it was at 4 – 6:30pm on a Saturday afternoon, but it was at a club and other people were drinking. Oh, I was drinking, too, but mine had no alcohol in it. It was a fabulous drink. You should try it! It had fruit punch, sprite, red bull and whipped cream on top. Delicious! It was a 90s bar crawl and the music was great! Last year I went out, later – more like clubbing, and they were playing all this great music from when I used to be a wild party girl. I mentioned how weird it was that they were playing all this music from my going out days and my friend looked me straight in the face and said, “Vanessa, that is because it is oldies night.” Oh, y’all, dead. my friend also remarked as to how I had on more clothes than most of the girls in there and that I was the only one wearing a bra. Again, dead. When did I get old?
Ok, let’s be real. It isn’t really clubbing. I live in Tallahassee, FL. What we mainly have is bars with loud music and sticky floors, but you get the idea. What I am talking about here, is me, sober 5 years me, going “out out.” Why would I do that? How do I? Don’t you want to drink? Aren’t you tempted? I get these questions often. My favorite is, “You don’t drink at all?” No, not even one. So why do I go to bars or clubs? I still like people. I still like music. I still love to dance.
I feel so grateful that I still have many of the friends I had when I was drinking. Many of those friends have grown and changed, perhaps they don’t drink at all anymore. I have some that used to get wasted with me, but now only have one or two drinks. I have some new friends that never knew drinking Vanessa. I have young friends that love to go out and “party.” In the beginning of my sobriety, I don’t think I could’ve handled what I can now. I am not tempted when I go out. I have very little to no desire to drink, ever, but especially when I am in a crowd of people. I was never the one to drink to be social. In fact, I drank for opposite reasons. I drank to shut down. I was a pass out drinker. I wasn’t more fun, it was quite the opposite.
As I was sitting at the bar, talking to some people next to me and my friend who was the bartender, this insanely drunk girl came up. She didn’t care who was there, everyone was basically in her way. I asked my bartender friend if I was that bad back in the day. He said, oh sweetheart, you were worse. He agreed that I look, not only feel, better than I did in my early 20s. He also reminded me that it is much nicer now that no one has to find me passed out in a car or some other random place. I feel such shame sometimes when I think about what I must have been like. I must have been so obnoxious until I passed out. I am thankful that the passing out didn’t take too terribly long so I didn’t have all that much time to embarrass myself too greatly. Although, I know there are plenty of those stories. If you know one, save it. I don’t need to be reminded of things my horrible memory has thankfully forgotten. So, in a way, going out reminds me of all I have to be thankful for in my sobriety. I am no longer that obnoxiously loud girl….oh wait, I still may be….
While I have been sober for over 5 years now, I realize that I am still me. I am still fun, loud, spontaneous, happy,crazy girl. What has changed? I don’t need to drink to function. I don’t need to drink to quite the voices in my head. They are still there. I am still crazy, but I have embraced my crazy. I just use essential oils and Jesus to keep me in check and that doesn’t always work. Sometimes I lose it and that is me. I thought in the beginning of sobriety that I was going to be normal now. I am not, no where close, but normal is just a setting on the washer.
The truth is, I am still me. I still love going out and being in the midst of a crowd and people watching. I still love meeting new people and having conversations with people I have never met before. I still love dancing on a dance floor with loud music and lots of lights. I can still love all those things and not care about drinking. Those things do not require me to take a drink or drugs.
One night my friend was explaining I do not drink to someone I had never met and she told the girl, “but don’t worry, she is the most fun sober girl ever.” I am. I am still fun. Maybe even more fun. I do not have to be babysat anymore. I don’t get sick in the bathroom. I may still disappear, but you won’t lose track of me for too long. In a way, I think I confuse many people. My sober friends don’t get why I still want to be around that much drinking and my drinking friends still don’t understand why I don’t drink.
I don’t think everyone needs to know that I am sober when I go out. It just comes out. I have to turn down drinks often and that often raises questions. I usually drink redbull and sprite in a cup like the ones everyone else has as to not draw attention to it, but if someone asks I am just going to tell them, i don’t drink alcohol anymore. I usually hear, “like ever? Not even one?” I just smile and tell them that I have had enough to drink for a lifetime. This is more than true. Often I hear, but you weren’t really an alcoholic. I almost like the shock when I tell them that I still am and if my liver failing wasn’t enough I don’t know what is. I am not proud of the disaster I made of my life, but I like making people more aware of addiction. I am not at the bar to convert people to sobriety or guilt them in any way. I do want people to know that life can be just as fun, if not more without chemicals. You don’t have to get wasted to have a great time.
I have also learned I need to keep my judgement in check. I am sober, not perfect, in fact, I just realize even more so now how far from perfect I actually am. I don’t think of myself as better or higher than anyone. I am sober because I have to be, but I have learned to love it. I have embraced this life, but it doesn’t have to put me in a bubble. I am not saying everyone who is sober should go to bars, I am not saying anyone at all needs to. I just enjoy it sometimes and me being sober is not going to put keep me away from deafening 90’s music, poorly dressed co-eds and disgusting bathrooms. If that is where I want to go, I am going. Yes, I understand that not all clubs are like this and I could chose to go to a dare I say, classier joint, but I kinda like the packed clubs that make me forget I am a 33-year-old single mother who is as sober as the sunrise. Usually though, I want to be in bed way before these events take place. Sometimes, at dinner, I tell my boyfriend I want to go out dancing, knowing good and well I really just want to go to bed. Chances are I am going fishing in the morning and I need all the sleep I can get before that alarm goes off.
So, I can go out if I want to, I just normally chose not to. Most of the time I am in bed looking at your snapchats from the night before thinking, wow that is packed and loud. I am usually on my way to the boat landing looking at your drunken escapades thinking, your head must hurt, but you do you! I am sitting at my desk thinking you are truly amazing for getting up after staying out until 3am, from what I saw you were at Whataburger, and I am tired even though I went to bed stone cold sober at 11pm. How do you do it? This is truly a serious question. Maybe it is my age? Maybe I am just too mom life now? I don’t know, but I don’t envy you most of the time. When I get that itch though, I will see you out! I will quickly be reminded as to why I can’t stay out this late and it will be another 6 months, but alas I always forget at some point.
Edit: I wrote this before a weekend I had every intention of going out. I didn’t. I was in bed by 9:30pm with my pups missing my little one and my boo. BUT, if I ever make it out past my bedtime, y’all watch out. I can still hold my own on the dance floor!