I’m a firm believer that everything that happens in our life has a lesson to teach us, whether we realize it at the time or not. This whole journey into sobriety has honestly, been much easier than I thought. But I realize now that as far as certain friendships go, I’ve been avoiding them. You see, I am a full time cater waiter and a part time musical theatre performer. I went through a period of about 5 years where I wasn’t focused on auditioning or booking shows. I went to auditions, but not as many as I should have. I was focused on other things, namely becoming more financially stable and getting married. I booked a show last year finally, and although it was a short experience, I made a bunch of new friends.
The thing about this is, during this time and the months that followed, my drinking sky rocketed. I thought that I would go away to do this show and take a break from drinking. The complete opposite happened. My whole cast liked to party. And I partied every night. I was confusing my desire to have fun and break the shackles of catering with getting fucked up every night and making bad decisions. And this behavior carried through the summer and then the fall, right through the winter. But I was determined to develop these friendships that I had made during the show, and that meant going out more, partying, and ignoring the warning signs that perhaps I was being a little extra in my pursuit of being the fun, young, carefree girl. I neglected my marriage, choosing to go out and party with my young, handsome gay friends until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes not coming home. My friends made me feel free and fun, and life wasn’t so boring anymore. I was “free” but what I was really doing was trying not to feel anything, because I was unhappy with the state of myself deep down inside. There were countless mornings that I woke up and felt regret, shame, and reality setting in that this wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing anymore, but what would happen to these friendships if I pulled away?
Enter sobriety. I haven’t seen these particular friends much since I’ve stopped drinking. They’ve been away doing shows so that is part of it, but I haven’t been going out of my way to spend time with them. So this past Wednesday, I was invited to a birthday party in which they were also invited to. The last time I saw this particular group of people, I was drinking, so this was the first time I’d be seeing everyone. I asked the bartender if he made mocktails and he made me a great one, so I had the drink in my hand and most people didn’t notice. A few asked me what I was drinking, or asked to try it only to be surprised there was no booze in it. Then my closer friends showed up. The last time I saw my one friend, let’s call him Joe, we were crying drunk watching the last few episodes of This Is Us. He knew I was ‘taking a break’ but he was surprised to see that I was still on a break. He went on to say that I should be done with my break at this point, that I could moderate and just couldn’t understand my choice to keep going. Awkward. So I try to have fun, and I am for most of the time. I see my friends chugging drinks and taking shot after shot after shot, and although I feel a little left out of the ‘bonding’, I have no desire to drink.
A little later on, Joe, clearly drunk, starts talking to me about his birthday in October. He wants to have it in Vegas. I’m invited. But I have to drink he says. I tell him that most likely I won’t be drinking. And he keeps pushing the point that I must drink, it’s his birthday. I tell him again that I don’t think I’ll be drinking but Vegas still sounds fun, since I love to dance my face off. He gets angry, and goes on a diatribe about how it’s cute when sober people hang for happy hour, but after a while it gets weird when the party is really starting. And then he says that if I’m not drinking, I shouldn’t bother coming at all. And I just felt like I was punched. I had a friend sitting near me listening to this convo, and this friend is on his own sobriety journey, and he says to Joe, “It sounds to me like you’re the one with the problem.” And then I went to the bathroom and couldn’t stop crying. My worst fear was realized. The thing I was scared of the most: my friends not wanting to be around me anymore if I wasn’t drinking. That I wasn’t fun anymore. That I was different. I was in the bathroom for probably 10 minutes trying to calm myself down. As I left the bathroom, Joe asks what’s wrong, and I just knew in that moment I needed to leave the party. Just get out of there. I told Joe that if our friendship was dependent on my drinking, then I guess we weren’t friends, and I left.
I just felt so upset. I guess I had been pushing that fear to the side and refusing to entertain the notion that some of my friends just wouldn’t be supportive. Joe had expressed the thoughts that I was having but refused to acknowledge. Things are changing. I am different now, and my lifestyle is shifting to reflect this change. My relationships are changing and I’m not sure where some of them are headed. The friendships that I’ve made in the last year are the ones that are likely to change the most. These people haven’t known me for long, they’ve known only one version of me unlike some of my other long time friends, so I’m not sure if they’ll survive.
I’ve read a lot of sober blogs and articles and they all seem to agree that yes, you will lose friendships, but perhaps those friendships weren’t strong to begin with. I’d rather have 2 or 3 close friends than a bunch of friends who can’t accept who I am at this point in my life. It’s just not worth it. #nonewfriends (unless they’re sober ;-))