I never realized the potential FOMO (fear of missing out) that I was going to develop when I made the decision to get sober at the prime partying age of 24. I had more than my fair share of house parties and bar hops, even staying home and blacking out on my porch. In college I was a hot mess. Towards the end, my ideal weekend plans consisted of sniffing some painkillers every other hour and getting shitfaced at the bar down the street. By the very, very end, I was perfectly content with doing more serious dry goods and dipping out in my bed every night. Since I wasn’t doing those things anymore, I was a lot more aware of how much fun everyone was having. I dwelled on the fact that I was never going to laugh or smile again and that I would spend my Friday nights at an AA meeting and then go to the diner with a bunch of old heads afterwards. I truly couldn’t fathom the idea of living a sober, happy life.
We can’t even wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without checking our phones. Social media and smart phones make it effortless to stay constantly connected to everyone around us. I would wake up on a Saturday morning and check Snapchat and Instagram, only to see that 90% of my “friends” had posted drunken pictures and videos from the night before. It infuriated me! I obviously didn’t expect the world to stop spinning because I got sober, but I envied them. I could have deleted them but a piece of me wanted to live vicariously through them. I missed that lifestyle, but as a little more time went on, I realized that I can’t drink like those people. I also realized that they wake up with a raging hangover and an empty wallet. By the end of my drinking, my hangovers were lasting a minimum of two and a half days. They were crippling. I really wasn’t missing out on much. The difference between them and I is that when I pick up that first drink, I have NO IDEA how my night is going to end. Even in my drinking days, I felt some jealousy towards the friends who could have a few drinks and then be done. They knew their limits. They knew when to stop drinking so they could drive home safely and responsibly. I didn’t care about limits. Eventually people stopped relying on me to be a designated driver because I never held up my end of the bargain and got way too drunk. A non-alcoholic doesn’t pray to God before a night on the town that they don’t black out that night. I never realized just how much control I didn’t have. I was constantly apologizing for things I said or did the morning after a drunken stupor. It was demoralizing. I didn’t understand how people went out for happy hour….and then went home? There were more nights than I care to admit that I went for happy hour and stayed until close. Once I started, I could not stop. One was never enough.
My father having 30 years of sobriety made it easier for me to get adjusted in the rooms of AA. At first, I was trying to relate to older people with years and years of time. I did a lot of comparing. I never got a DUI, I still had my apartment, my family didn’t (completely) hate me and I don’t have kids. The more I started meeting people though, I started branching out and hitting meetings in other areas where I was fortunate to meet some people my age. I finally felt like I fit in and that was where I was supposed to be. I found so many more similarities. We did everything normal young adults did – bowling, movies, card games and bonfires. But we did it sober. We also had a common connection and that was STAYING sober. It became a support network.
I had told my sponsor once in early sobriety that I felt so left out in regards to my friends who weren’t like me. I was an outsider now. I didn’t get to do all the things everyone else my age was doing. This was mostly a pity party for me, I mean us alcoholics and addicts are great at believing the stuff our crazy head makes up. After suggesting I find another circle of friends, she explained to me that going to the bar and getting drunk was pretty much the ONLY thing I couldn’t do. In my addiction, I could barely leave my area code for too long because I didn’t want to be too far away from the things I needed on an hourly basis. I had no money to do normal things like go out to dinner or shopping. Taking a vacation was completely out of the question. All extra money after the bills were somewhat paid went to my addiction. NOW I HAVE FREEDOM! I can do anything I want. I gave up so many things I enjoyed doing for my love of drugs and alcohol. One of those things was playing softball, so I joined a co-ed league this past summer and I had so much fun. I also took up some new hobbies like making dream catchers and reading books. Sobriety is everything I never knew that I wanted. I am finally free of the ball and chain that was my addiction.
For the record, I grew to love the Friday night diner trips. Living sober is so normal to me now. I used to only remember what alcohol did FOR me, rather than what it did TO me. Today, I have to remember how much it ruined my life so I can stay sober. My detox stays close to my heart so I never forget how much pain I went through to get to where I am today. However, life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Life still happens when we’re sober. With a mind that isn’t soaked with alcohol and clouded by drugs, we are able to develop the skills to deal with life’s problems today. There’s not a drug on earth that could make life more meaningful.