Internet crashing from time to time, no email access, cell phone silent. Marooned — but connection may be restored by the end of the day.
No idea what happened to the fonts in yesterday’s post – I tried to fix them a few times and then gave up. Thank you for the feedback and support, it made all the difference.
My housemate has gone off to the surgeon for x-rays and a medical examination. She has been in pain since early yesterday morning and worries there may be a problem with the knee replacement. She doesn’t say or show much but I can tell she is despondent and dreading the tests. I try to stay calm and not reactive, be there for her. Learning to sit with anxiety without overwhelm is part of sobriety’s learning curve.
Answering a question from someone newly sober and recalling what those early days felt like: ‘Quick question- at what point did those of you have been sober for a while find yourself comfortable in situations where other people were drinking?‘
Although I was desperate to stay sober, I found that in very early sobriety I was extremely reactive around alcohol in social situations.
I was acutely conscious of others drinking around me and the sight of bottles of wine or liquor on the table was a visual magnet. If I felt awkward or out of place or stuck with argumentative people, I missed being able to drink as a buffer ‘to take the edge off’, to escape into drunkenness.
What helped was going for for coffee or meals after AA meetings, where I sat in restaurants with relaxed sober people who didn’t notice or care about who else might be drinking in the restaurant. I realised that in time I might also reach that calm indifference to alcohol. They had no problem telling the waiters to bring mineral water or glasses of lime & soda and checking with the chef that there was no alcohol smuggled into the dessert. From friends like these I learned some common-sense basics I still follow today. As a rule I don’t go to functions or places where alcohol will be the only thing served and where I will find myself surrounded by heavy drinkers. This means that I don’t go to pubs or wine-tasting events or sundowner beach parties.
When I do go out I have a bottle of mineral water in my bag in case there is no alternative offered to alcohol, which is rare. I have a glass of water and something light to eat beforehand, so that I don’t feel hungry or thirsty while listening to speeches or waiting for a meal.
The reactivity to alcohol wore off fairly soon as I stayed sober and now I am scarcely aware if anyone else is drinking alcohol or not. Most people drink very little and all my friends know that I don’t drink. In the beginning I would say that I was ‘allergic to alcohol’ or on antibiotics, but now I just say that I don’t drink alcohol and ask for fruit juice or mineral water.
At its best, AA is a bridge back to normal and healthy socialising and over time I learned not just to relax and enjoy myself without needing to drink, but also that I could sit with feelings of boredom or discomfort when I found myself in difficult social gatherings. That is what most people do, just put up with the temporary discomfort because it is nothing to drink about.