After the first few weeks in A.A., I started to think beyond getting through the next minute or hour being sober. One of the things I thought about – and worried about – was how to handle things without the “comforting” presence of alcohol or drugs.
I used drugs or alcohol every day except before I went to work or for much – but not all – of my volunteering. And I pretty much always used drugs or alcohol to prepare for social situations. So I wondered how awkward would it be to try and have casual conversation at a barbeque? What would it be like to dance without feeling loose from a few drinks? How could I kiss someone, or go further, without using something to help me get in the mood and get comfortable?
To people who don’t abuse alcohol or drugs, these may sound like crazy questions. But those of you who are a bit shy or introverted may know that scared feeling as you walk into a room, especially if you don’t know some of the people there. And many of you can think of the slight anxiety when you get ready to kiss someone or have sex with them for the first time. For me, as an alcoholic and drug addict who is an introvert, trying these things when sober was very hard. I had relied for years on a quick drink or toke to get up my courage. So the first time I tried something sober was a very scary thing 😉
One way that really helped was to get some support for trying something new while sober. If I was going to a gathering, I would ask a friend to go with me so I did not enter alone (that was always the hardest, just walking in). And I made a date with some friends to go dancing and they all agreed not to drink or use that night, so we were in the same boat; we just all got up together and had a blast laughing at ourselves and dancing. It did take a while to get used to going out and having fun without a drink, but friends were a big help for me to get more comfortable and learn to have fun sober.
Another thing to be grateful for: friends who supported my efforts to sober up. A thousand thanks for being with me in those early days, and in continuing to support my desire not to drink/toke to this day.