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A sense of belonging…

Sobriety really can be a lonely path. It’s odd – because I have support groups that I can lean on and my hubby always has my back, but it still feels like I’m on this weird, secret path that no one in my world really cares about. I literally have spent 9 months changing my entire life and identity, and most people don’t know about it or if they do, they don’t think it’s that big of a deal. None of them understand why I have done what I have done. None of them understand what I’ve gone through to get here. None of them understand how hard or how exciting it’s been. None of them will ever be as passionate about alcohol-free living as I am. None of them want to carry on exciting conversations about it. Sobriety is my biggest success, biggest struggle, biggest thing ever in my life – and it really doesn’t matter to anyone but me (and hubby, of course). Most people, quite honestly, just want to defend why their drinking is acceptable or why they don’t have a problem -so it’s not something I can even have a conversation about. I guess the bottom line is- you just can’t comprehend, care, or appreciate what someone’s going through unless you’ve gone through it too (or are affected by someone going through it).

I’m not a super social person. It took me most of my life to find just a handful of really close girlfriends, and we’ve grown apart over the years. I’m in a situation of needing to start all over with creating new friendships while being what feels like a teetotal, social-outcast. To meet new friends, you have to have something you’re interested in doing. But I don’t even know what I’m interested in doing – I haven’t done much of anything in the past.

This sounds like a horrible downer, I know. I’m not depressed, sad, or any of that. This is just part of the process. I have recreated myself and need others in my life that appreciate that, but I haven’t figured out how to do that part (yet). This is something most of my support group members are going through too – so it’s a real issue that most of us face at some point. This is less about being alcohol-free and more about needing common connection. I could just as easily replace sobriety/alcohol-free with any major life change – moving to a new place, changing careers, becoming a parent, becoming religious, getting divorced – whatever. When you go through a major life change, you want to be able to talk about it with other people who have either experienced it or can appreciate what you’ve been through. The hard part – when it comes to alcohol-free living – is that there just aren’t that many people around me that feel the same way that I do.

To be honest, I’m struggling with social encounters and meeting friends in a big way. Early in life, it was pretty easy to find friends – as we’re all put together in school or other group activities. I am also starting to think that it’s easier to find friends when you’re young because you don’t really know who you are or what matters to you – or at least not that much. As an adult, we have a lifetime of experiences and opinions that we also consider when meeting new people. I have mentioned before that I relocated a few years ago. My new home has some amazing benefits – people are friendly, hospitality is amazing, the weather is awesome, the nature is gorgeous, and OH MY GOD, the food. But there are also differences living here too – mainly religion and politics. Two pretty big topics that define a lot of people are now two topics that I am typically on a different page than everyone around me. I spent a lot of my life feeling like I didn’t belong, and I didn’t fit in. I struggled my entire childhood and adolescence to find ways to connect with people – so sometimes, it’s hard to ignore that here I am, a 40 something, and I’m kinda in that place all over again.   How do you find people who wonder how you’re doing, who remember your birthday, who want to support you when you’re struggling? That’s what I still need to figure out.

Right now,  it’s really easy to find all the ways I don’t fit in and don’t belong.  I know that the first step is to get it all out – pour my soul out to the strangers on the internet until I feel like it’s all been said – the good, the bad, the ugly. (Check!)  Then, I gotta get off my ass and try to change my perspective.  No one is going to knock on my door, take me by the hand, and show me how to be liked.  It’s just not going to happen.  I know how important it is to belong and how dangerous loneliness can be to everyone and especially to sobriety – so I need to find a way to make it a priority and change it. Sometimes, I can’t make something a priority until it hurts enough that I become sick of hurting (Check!).  But this is not that much different than cutting out alcohol, is it?  At the time, that seemed like an impossible feat …but I eventually figured out that I needed to make a change and I did! It wasn’t easy…god, it wasn’t easy… but I did what I had to do because it was important to do it.  That’s clearly where I need to get with this whole loneliness thing too.

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Emotionally Exhausted

Woke up emotionally exhausted today. I could feel it coming on yesterday and tried to turn it around with meditation and a bubble bath, but I guess sometimes ya just gotta feel the feels. The meditation said something interesting “Don’t try to push away bad feelings. Think of them as a good friend, in a bad mood, that just needs your support”.

Fathers day and Mothers day always eat at me. I was born to teen parents – never met my mom, and my dad was in and out of my life. When he WAS around – he was drunk and abusive. I was raised by a combination of my aging grandmother and whatever family member could take me in.   Every Fathers Day and Mothers Day, I grow increasingly tired of all the happy, lovey posts. It’s not anyone else’s fault that my parents are fuckups….its not like I wish everyone else had tortured childhoods and shitty parents….so idk why it annoys me so much when these days hit.

Anyways…I wont drink over this, and I’m not worried about that – but this is the shit I hid from with drinking, and now it’s the shit I need to get through sober.

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Making the best of it

So yesterday hubby and I went on an all day photography workshop. I posted abt me being conflicted because a portion of the workshop included a wine tasting.

The workshop ended up a total failure as far as photography workshops go. The organizer did a poor job of knowing the area, and we ended up on what me and hubby now refer to as “the photo death March of 2018” lol… 2 mile hike in 90 degree weather, surrounded by nothing picturesque, and half the group had to stop and wait for someone to come back with a car to get them! Anyways – it was an awesome bonding moment for me and hubby as we laughed our asses off about the terrible planning that was done.

When it came to the wine tasting section of the workshop – I was never concerned that I’d drink, but I had been so conflicted about sitting through something that reminds me of the ridiculous stories we tell ourselves to “market” our drinking. I wasnt sure I wanted to participate in the propaganda of the drinking culture or take images of it.

Reflecting now, I clearly was stuck in a bunch of “shoulds and what ifs” – which I always advise friends to ignore and instead take care of themselves…and there I was unable to see my own typical advice lol.

So get this – after the death March, we FINALLY got to a picturesque section… and then the leader wont let us take photos because we would miss the wine tasting if we did !? So no photos, photographers, we need to hurry to go drink instead?! And the whole group couldn’t wait to drink “after such a horrible day”. And what comes out of my mouth?! The girl who was afraid to “make herself an outsider”? “Alcohol is the LAST thing I would want in my body after being so dehydrated all day”. And I didn’t feel bad about it. I didn’t care if people did or didn’t judge me over it. I didn’t care if they felt like I was judging their decision to further dehydrate themselves (which I was tbh). I didn’t care. Guess what? The only people’s opinions of me that matter – are those people whose opinions I value, and I suppose I just figured out that theirs weren’t it!

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Self-Care has Many Faces

I am feeling burned out. Last week’s political topics had me exhausted, and I am a member of several sobriety-related groups that were filled with tons of “oops day 1 again” posts that left me feeling like I just can’t possibly help. Exhaustion is my absolute biggest threat to sobriety, but here’s the thing… it’s something I can completely control. I can set appropriate boundaries, arrange my time within them, and limit my exposure to things that drain me quickly. That’s something I use to think was out of my control, but thanks to Holly and HSS, I now know that it is absolutely in my control. So, I spent the weekend off of news and Facebook, I said “No” to hubby when he wanted to go out and invite friends along, I canceled a baseball game with neighbors, and I downloaded some Facebook apps that filter out political posts and sponsored ads (all my sponsored ads are always alcohol products -no matter how many times I say they aren’t relevant to me). I’m not going to “hide from the world” forever, but I love the idea of being able to filter out content when I’m not up for seeing it. When I’m having a conversation and a hot topic comes up, I can say “I don’t want to get into that right now”… so why shouldn’t I be able to tell Facebook the same thing?

I was watching a show the other day that triggered me. I was caught SO off guard. I don’t really think about drinking much, and I can’t think of the last time I was triggered. That’s a beautiful place to be in sobriety, but also a scary place to be when a trigger DOES come up. That night, I had a drinking dream (which I haven’t had in months). I’ve had several dreams about drinking since then, and I keep having this random fear come up “what if I forget that I’m sober and accidentally drink”. It seems RIDICULOUS. How do you forget that you’re sober? But maybe that fear is really telling me that even though I feel stable in my alcohol-free ways, I shouldn’t get too confident about it.

What are you guys doing to keep your energy balanced and sobriety strong as time goes on?