– By Captain Michael Morse
Your first few weeks in recovery, you may take a look over your familiar community and see a changed landscape. Everybody wants to party, it seems, and nobody wants to party with you. Jeez, all you did was quit drinking, it’s not like you stopped living!
However satisfied you are to be rid of the addiction that made your life miserable, one of the more challenging doubts in your decision to embrace recovery can be the fear of being ostracized. Nobody wants to be left out. When I first got sober, I hated for people to know that I “didn’t party” (as if what I had been doing could actually be considered partying).
Besides not really being at the parties you are at, there are other delusions at work. For example, all those great party buddies you’ve gathered over the years – what are they thinking of you, all sobered up? Do they find you a disappointment? But as you gather time in sobriety, you begin to see those friendships in a different light. You consider that the people who concern themselves with your partying status are actually not wrapped tight enough for you to worry about to begin with.
In the case of alcoholics like me, one of our big deceptions is the belief that we “free ourselves” with alcohol.
Inhibitions (all that crap other people have laid on us) melt away, and we “loosen up” to become the brilliant comic or pundit we really are.
As I look at it now, I think, a person is what a person is without chemical enhancement. Using alcohol to shed inhibitions reveals, not the true person exhibiting inhibition-free behavior; rather it is the substance itself conveying the behavior. The old word “crutch” comes to mind, and I think, though as alcoholics we’d never admit it, we do feel the truth of it. But we choose to bury the idea inside, somewhere deep. As we hide our cherished dark secret from even ourselves, we nurse it with alcohol. Maybe the people who leave you out of their partying plans have some such secret to hide. Maybe their not wanting you around while the secret is exposed is not about your lack of party skills. Rather, they are intimidated by the fact that you no longer harbor the secret. Nor do you provide cover for anyone else’s secret.
People like I was, when I engaged in all-you-can-drink partying, had a saying, a “club code,” if you will, for our party club: “You are what you drink.” From my current vantage point, I see a statement that can only be true when what you drink is shaping your behavior. Maybe you like those one-liners that only alcohol seems able to bring out of you. And sure, alcohol can do that for you – for a while. But it comes with a trade-off, filling your sober self with self-doubt and increasing your need to be drinking.
All there is is you.
It’s time to join the party of your choosing while the crowd who shuns you gets drunk again.