Couldn’t keep all my friends

Last week I posted about how some friends helped me handle those hard first times without booze or drugs.  Someone commented that I was lucky to have friends who were with me through some of those firsts.

I know I was lucky that I did have friends who could be there for me in the early days – more reasons for gratitude! But I had many more friends and family members who did not know how to handle me saying I was an alcoholic. I was told I didn’t have a drinking problem, or I could surely handle one drink. I was offered a “small” drink, or “just one” toke many times by friends or family who didn’t believe or understand (or didn’t want to) that I had a drinking/using problem.

And I certainly had some friends who really did not support me getting sober. They were my drinking and toking and partying buddies. What we did together was feed our addictions – that’s what we had in common. So when I stopped using, they didn’t get supportive, they got mad … and some tried to sabotage my efforts to stop drinking. It was very tough to learn that I just couldn’t be with some of my old so-called friends: I couldn’t hang out with them, and I couldn’t go to some of my favourite places (mostly bars). I had to accept that those friends only wanted to hang out with me because I drank and toked, and because my bad behaviour and bad decisions matched theirs.

Fortunately, at A.A. meetings, I heard stories about the challenge of trying to keep some friends. About how sobriety had to come first. People said it was hard to lose those friendships, but that going to places and being with people that triggered a desire to drink/use was just too dangerous. I learned that I did have to change my behaviour in many ways, including avoiding places where people were drinking or doing drugs. And that definitely included bars and the homes of friends who were using.

So I had to learn to let go: of old drinking buddies, of bad habits, of crazy addict behaviour. As is often said in A.A.:

“Let go and let God.”

Working on sobriety has meant letting go of those habits, of the illusion of control, and of some of my friends. Thanks to A.A., a Higher Power, and old friends and new, I have stayed sober and grateful. May you find your sober path too.

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