When I got Sober at 18
When I got sober at 18, one of my biggest fears was losing all of my friends I used to drink with. They were my closest friends, and the people I spent most of my time with. I used them to define my worth and my identity, so the thought of them rejecting me felt like the end of the world. My problem was mainly that I lacked faith in my Higher Power, and love for myself. I used my friends’ opinions of me to define my worth and my actions.
Consequently, I spent four and a half months conducting my life the exact same way as before, minus the drinking and using. I spent untold amounts of time and energy trying to fit in and keep things the way they had been before I got sober. I went to all the parties, bars and clubs with my friends, even when I didn’t really want to. I was hanging onto my sobriety by the skin of my teeth! It was a stressful and painful time in my life – but the truth is it didn’t have to be.
But five months into my sobriety I moved to Hawaii to live with my aunt, who had many years in recovery. This move took me from everyone and everything I had ever known. And then it put me right into a world where almost everyone around me was in recovery.It didn’t take long for me to realize by hanging onto my old drinking buddies, I had been missing out on a whole slew of AMAZING people in recovery who understood me on a level that I didn’t know was possible. It was their love and support that helped me to detach physically, mentally and emotionally from my old life and my old friends.
Of course that doesn’t mean I love my friends that drink any less! It just means that I no longer base my internal peace on their opinions of our lifestyle differences!
After moving to Hawaii with five months of sobriety, I stayed away completely from bars, restaurants and clubs. Basically every place where there was alcohol! I was still getting hit with unpredictable bursts of intense cravings every few months, and I just knew that being around a place where there was drinking and drugs would not improve my life or my internal state.
But at this point I find that being around alcohol and drugs has very little effect on me. It’s taken a long time, but I believe I’ve come to a place of neutrality when it comes to being around drinking. I really like live music, and most of the time live music is at restaurants and bars! Probably about twice a month I find myself at some little bar in downtown Orlando listening to a band play, or I’ll go out to a club called Cowboys where they have line dancing every Saturday night (which I love!) Also my two roommates and I throw themed parties once a month, and they both drink, so there’s always alcohol at those events.
But I only allow myself to go to those places because it has been a long time since my last cravings for mind and mood altering substances. When I look around at people drinking, I feel no inclination to join in. In fact, it is mildly repulsive to me, and the smell alone of alcohol is enough to make me gag a little and my stomach burn from the mere thought of consuming it. When I know I’m going out I also make sure that I’ve spoken to my Sponsor already that day and been to a 12-Step meeting, that way I am walking into the situation with a head and heart full of the program. A bit of spiritual insurance!
The most important thing to remember is that taking care of yourself is of the utmost priority. Your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health is your number one concern! Keep this in mind when making your social plans. If you get cravings for alcohol and drugs, stay away from it until you truly feel in your heart that you can handle being around it! If you’re only going out where there’s alcohol to recapture the feelings of the days of old or to please your drinking friends, you’re likely not going to have a good time. Don’t forget that being social is meant to be FUN and a way to connect with people!