Dickheads everywhere

I don’t think I’ve ever really grasped just how good I’ve had it when it comes to other people’s reactions to my decision to stop drinking. I’ve had it soooo, so good, but if the last fortnight is anything to go by, my luck has run out.

When I first quit I was constantly on the defensive, always prepared for hostile reactions when I turned down offers of drinks. Boozing culture is so well ingrained in our society that I expected it to ruffle a few feathers when I decided to go against the grain. Plus, I had been living in a world that revolved around alcohol and I couldn’t believe that people wouldn’t care about my decision not to partake in a bit of gasoline guzzling.

On the whole though I was pleasantly surprised by other people’s reactions. Close friends and family knew that I’d been worrying about my drinking for a long time before I actually stopped, so they had a bit of background and didn’t hassle me one bit. In fact their reactions have ranged from being curious about it all, to hugely supportive, to awestruck. And the majority of workmates, strangers and acquaintances have been mildly surprised, yet completely un-phased by news that I no longer drink. Overall, people just do not give a monkey’s what I decide to put into my body. It’s fab, it’s how things should be.

And so (with my surprise at everyone else’s lack of surprise), alcohol free me has slowly come out of hiding and I’ve gained confidence in this new aspect of my identity. I’ve become better at picking my timing and dropping it casually into conversation. Things seemed to be on the up and up. But, as this image so wonderfully summarises, up and up is never the reality:

Expectations v reality

The reality is that there are, in fact, an abundance of dickheads around. Absolutely loooooads of them. Ignorant, insensitive, ill-informed, blithering idiots, who feel it is their place to make you feel like a less of a human for becoming addicted to an addictive substance, and feel that it is their right to be offended by your decision to do something about that pesky little addiction.

I guess I’d been lulled into a false sense of security by all the wonderful mature reactions I’d had the good fortune to experience for the majority of my time spent sober, so I was a bit miffed at my work-party last week to be met with judgmental comment after judgmental comment all night long. There was pity “Oh you don’t drink? What… ever? That must be so booooring!”, and shock “You don’t drink? You?”, and attempts to coax me out of the ridiculous proposal that I stop drinking “It’s not forever, right?”, but what I found most unsettling was the disgust I encountered. My standard explanation when people ask why I don’t drink is to tell them that I wasn’t comfortable with the amount I was drinking so I decided to cut it out completely, but watching strangers’ faces balk in disgust at this fact has been making me second guess whether being honest all of the time is best for me.

To be fair to this particular bunch of dickheads, I think it was the age group of a lot of the people there that night – we’d recently hired a whole lot of junior staff straight out of uni and they probably haven’t learnt that there’s a big old diverse world out there and that they’ll need to learn to tolerate differences.

What’s rattled my cage a lot more recently is the judgement and disgust I’ve copped from an old friend. I can cope with a lack of understanding from people that don’t know me, young people that live in a booze soaked world, who are conditioned daily to believe that alcohol is the only way to have fun, but it’s a lot more confronting when it comes from a good friend. This friend has tiptoed around the edges of disdain. She hasn’t outright said that she doesn’t agree with my decision, but it’s quite clear that she’s not in support. The problem is, her comments are so minor that I feel like I’m being petty by bringing them up with her. The other day she messaged me delighted to see that I’d started drinking again. When I explained that the big glass of wine in the photo was AF wine, she replied simply “ew yuck”. This friend is one seriously intelligent girl, who’s normally really open minded and considerate, which is why I find her reaction all the more frustrating.

I guess the silver lining here is that her display of shitty friendship qualities just makes my supportive friends shine all the more brighter in comparison. Plus, she has really ugly eyebrows, so that makes me feel better too 😉

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Cringing

Today I had a job interview for a job I’m really keen on. The interview didn’t go as well as it could have, and all afternoon feelings of shame have just been washing over me as I re-live each appallingly bad answer I gave over and over in my mind. My face involuntarily scrunches up every time I remember how badly I ballsed up my responses and I just want to slither under my desk and the ground to eat me up.

I wish there was a switch that would turn off these feelings. I don’t know how to get rid of the feelings without drinking, so I’m just sitting here – sitting in the feeling, physically feeling like my guts have turned to jelly and there’s a pool of acid collecting in my stomach. It’s probably just an accumulation of adrenaline, but it’s making me feel horrific.

Anyone know how to get rid of these feelings of nerves and shame? I’ve tried talking through how things went with a couple of friends from work, but it hasn’t helped. I assumed the nerves would disappear and I’d feel relief after it was over, but instead I just feel doubly worse re-living the shame of making a fool of myself. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until the adrenaline drains out of my body…? Will running help? I’m clearly desperate to rid myself of this feeling if I’m considering running! 🙂

Four good things

Month eight has been a cracking month so far!

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks because I haven’t felt the need. It’s a bit like the training wheels have fallen off and I just don’t need that support that I used to. Sober Mummy wrote about sober props recently and I agree – it’s a good measure of how well you’re doing when you notice the props falling away.

I thought it was about time to do up a list of things I’m grateful for right now, so here’s four good things…

1.) Trip to Queenstown

I’ve had crap holidays and good holidays sober, and this was a good one. The weekend pretty much centred around food. (I think that’s the key to a good sober holiday!)

This photo was taken on our last morning there. We had an early flight so I got up early and went to the bakery for breakfast at dawn. There wasn’t a soul around. I love that time of the morning when it feels like the world is all yours. If only I didn’t love sleep so much, I could enjoy my hangover free mornings more!

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2.) The alcohol shaped hole is filling in

One of my biggest fears when I decided to cut out the booze was that I was in a lose-lose situation. I thought my life was going to be miserable while drinking and miserable without. I could see that the drinking was causing a little path of destruction through my life, so I wanted to remove it, but I didn’t want it to leave a gaping painful hole behind. I didn’t want to drink and I didn’t want to stop. Basically I didn’t want my addiction.

The first six months were definitely patched with misery. I tried really hard not to feel like I was missing out, or feel like I was denying myself something I wanted, but sometimes you just can’t change how you feel no matter how much mind power you use! What I really needed was mind power + time. I just had a marinate in shitty feelings for a while until they sorted themselves out and I began to feel better.

These days (for the most part) I have what I wished for. I live my life with booze removed and no gaping hole. I’ve read a lot of advice that says you have to find something to fill that gaping hole. Often it’s running, or yoga or AA meetings, but for me I’m not too sure what it is… I think I’m just getting on with life and the lack of boozing is becoming less of a presence.

3.) Sober treats

I’ve found a new pit to pour money into that isn’t the booze aisle of the supermarket!

A couple of weeks ago I spent my Friday night at the Bobbi Brown counter. The women there are super down to earth and genuinely keen to make sure you’re happy. While my friends had a few pre-dinner drinks, I went off to get my make-up done, before meeting up with them later for dinner.

Skipping drinks was a genius idea and I’d make it a weekly ritual if it wouldn’t bankrupt me. Perched on my chair, sipping my sparkling water and being pampered, I felt like I was getting a much better deal than my boozy mates. Dinner later on was less alcohol-centric, so I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds. I’d definitely recommend doing this to stamp out any lingering feelings of FOMO. The counter will do your skincare/make-up for a set cost of around $100, but they’ll shave $100 off the cost of any product you buy.

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4.) This quote from Brené Brown

I don’t usually go in for this quotey shit – it’s all a bit lala when I’m all for practical advice. But this quote resonated with me for some reason:

“You can choose courage or comfort, but you cannot have both”

It was shared on Laura McKowen’s facebook page and I guess I was in a reflective mood when I read it. I think it really sums up sobriety (especially early sobriety). Sobriety has been extremely uncomfortable at times (to the point where I felt like I would 100% absolutely die if I didn’t drink), but I just had to recognise that my body/mind was simply intensely uncomfortable without the comfort of alcohol. It takes a lot of courage to sit with the discomfort and have faith that it becomes much more comfortable the more practice you get.

Brene Brown