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The Early Sobriety posts were originally written in LiveJournal, either privately or filtered to a very small group of close friends. Some are slightly edited to protect other people’s privacy, and photos were added for this blog.
I hope they help somebody out there to not feel so alone.
This was originally written June 2, 2015. I was 4 weeks sober.
There is a phrase that I’ve heard quite often over the years, that I want to dig into tonight.
“You need to come out of your shell!”
Look. I’ve “come out of my shell” PLENTY in the past few years, thanks to alcohol, and I honestly gotta say, it did me no favors. Everybody loves to see the quiet, reserved girl take a few shots and go all hog wild. They don’t have to wake up with that regret and shame the next day.
I can socialize without alcohol. I don’t need it to talk to people or be myself. Yes, I might be a bit quieter when I’m sober, but that’s only because I’m actually listening and processing the conversation. I take in the conversations around me, and contribute when I have something to say. I’m not interjecting random sentences that may or may not even be relevant to the conversation.
I’m not constantly trying to advertise myself to everybody around me, I’m actually participating in socializing in a healthy, relatively mature way. In fact, I’ve had some of my best conversations at trivia this past month since I stopped drinking. I’m not just another drunk girl, slurring about my kids or my ex or whatever song is playing on the speakers. I’m engaging in real conversation, and I prefer this by far.
Am I more boring now? Possibly, but I don’t think so. I don’t feel the same level of attention that I felt while drinking, but at the same time, that “attention” could have been all in my head, the alcohol telling me that I was more attractive when I was buzzed up.
I’m still having fun. The only difference is that I remember it now, and I’m actually building real friendships based on mutual interests, not just a bunch of people to drink with.
I thought I needed alcohol to be interesting, social, and relaxed. I don’t.
It’s ok that I’m not comfortable in large groups of strangers. It’s ok that it takes me time to really start talking to people comfortably. I’m not shy, exactly. If I find common interests, I’m off to the races.
I love talking to people, sharing stories, hearing stories, connecting. I am very friendly and personable, or so I’ve been told. It feels like a lot of effort sometimes, and sometimes none at all. It really just depends. And…that’s ok. That really IS ok. I’m realizing that I don’t have to be the most interesting, the most beautiful, the most charismatic. I really don’t.
I just have to be myself. As cheesy as that is, right down to the core, that’s all I have to do. I didn’t know what that meant, and I’m still learning, but I feel like I’ve unlocked another level.
What does it mean to come out of my shell without alcohol?
It means I step outside of my comfort zone in every situation that calls for it.
I plan an outing with a friend, and stick to it.
I open up a bit more to somebody that I feel like I might have a connection with, maybe arrange an outing with our kids or a lunch or something.
I genuinely smile at the cashier instead of distractedly gazing somewhere to the side.
I make eye contact (the dreaded eye contact).
I offer my time to help somebody move, help somebody clean, help somebody with their children so they can run errands, etc. I don’t have a ton of time, but I can reorder it better than I have been.
I can laugh more, even when I’m feeling stressed. I can force myself to get out of my own head and be silly, playful, and cheerful even when I’m having the worst day.
I can stop thinking that everything has to revolve around me, and that I need to be rescued.
I had a great time at trivia tonight. Great conversation, lots of laughing, lots of serious debates and discussions, very mentally stimulating. I also enjoyed coming back to my apartment afterward, completely 100% sober. My daughter was still awake, fighting sleep. I was able to snuggle with her and have a short, sweet talk with her as she drifted off to sleep for the night.
Those are moments I will never miss due to booze, ever again.
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Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around. Read my story...
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