***Submitted by Diana, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now
I have waited almost six years for this to happen.
I have waited, not at all patiently, to attend a social function sober and not feel like an alien. I was the life of the party while I was drinking, the first to show up and the last to leave. Since I quit drinking I have mostly felt like an Amish girl at a strip club. I have tried valiantly to embrace the fun at parties and weddings and the like, but I inevitably end up having to politely duck out early having failed again. I had all but resigned myself to feeling at least somewhat awkward in all social situations where alcohol was served.
Last night it finally happened. I don’t know what the shift was, but Bob and I went to a wedding and I had a great time. I did put in the advance prep work, selecting a dress that I liked and planning all my accessories in advance. I gave myself enough time to get ready and planned the contents of my party purse. With the exception of an anxiety attack that came on when I saw the traffic and decided incorrectly that we would be late, I had absolutely nothing to obsess about (not that the absence of viable reasons to freak out has ever actually stopped me).
We saw friendly faces right as we arrived and I caught up with friends while Bob went to the bar to get me a diet coke. Most of the people at the wedding were aware that I don’t drink anymore and as we know, we alcoholics are much more inclined to pay attention to beverages that normal people are. The couple at whose wedding I had my final vodka-infused hurrah was also there. (I always joke with them that their reception was so much fun it sent me to rehab.)
I toasted the beautiful young couple with my diet coke and my water. I chatted above the DJ’s too loud music with our tablemates. But the real test came after dinner. The post dinner portion of the reception is usually all about drinking and dancing; the former is an activity that I have retired from and the other an activity that I felt much more secure in prior to my retirement from the former. This is also the part of any evening when I run the risk of being drawn into a conversation with an over served, slurring reveler. Last night I dodged that particular bullet and I danced. And I didn’t feel awkward.
When I was drinking I thought I was a very good dancer, just the right mix of sexy and rhythmic. I fear, in retrospect, that I was probably less sexy and more flail-y. I suspect most people who are liquored up and dancing think that they are pretty good. With the clarity of sobriety I don’t have any idea if I am a good dancer, but last night the music was really good and I didn’t care. We danced to songs both old and new and when I wasn’t dancing I was watching others dance. Everyone seemed to be having a really good time and whether or not alcohol contributed to their fun was none of my concern. I was having fun too. I didn’t feel other than.
I don’t know how other people reintegrate themselves socially. Maybe because I don’t have a heavy social calendar I have been slow to get to this point. Possibly because I was such a confirmed party girl it has taken me this long to find any level of comfort in a new sober version of my social self.
This may seem inconsequential to some, but it was a huge victory for me.
It was a big hurdle and I danced right over it.