Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dancin' Fool

***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.


  1. Congratulations!!! So happy for you!

  2. Not inconsequential at all!! Sober fun is challenging,, but when it is as genuine as you describe, it is absolutely one of the promises (Big Book) come true.
    Cheers to you!!

  3. Wahoo! Great post. I also await the moment I am tested out on the dance floor. I too though I was a fabulicious sex pot on the floor when I was more likely a flail-er! Sigh.

    Congratulations on this important milestone!

  4. I think these kinds of milestones are HUGE. They signify that we truly can live in society and actually enjoy ourselves without the aid of a social lubricant. It took me a really long time to get to that point, but I totally know where you're coming from.

  5. It took me a while to feel relaxed in a drinking environment, but once I got over myself, it was easy. Because, like you said, "normal" people don't keep an eye on what you are or are not drinking.. However, I try to choose quite nights in the pub, I don't go out on a busy saturday night. It's just not comfortable for me... Haven't tried a proper function like a wedding yet, that might be a different cup of tea! But well done to you!

  6. You rock Diana! Thanks so much for your post. It gives me hope that I can get to where you are someday.

  7. I am so with you on the feeling uncomfortable dancing thing! I got a DVD,"Anyone can Dance - Absolute Beginners Nightclub Freestyle" and LOVE it. I did it about 20 times to practice, but ever since then, I can dance anywhere totally sober and enjoy it.
    P.S. I don't work for them or even know them :-)

  8. I love this! I love to dance (I also love to hula hoop to dance music in my house and have found that the amount of work involved in hula hooping makes it something you can't really drink alcohol with, but I down about a six pack of seltzer during an hour long jam....)

    I have a friend who is the slurry reveler. She thinks she's the life of the party, but she just repeats the same stories, shoves herself in everyone's face, and we all generally breathe a sigh of relief when her husband finally takes her home. Later, when I try to recount something funny that happened, she'll say "Oh, I don't remember that..." I don't know what to do.

    I'm so glad you found your dancing feet!

  9. This made my day! What a great milestone for you. Isn't it great having fun AND waking up feeling good? Who knew it was so simple?

  10. Diana, I meant to comment on this when I first read it because it resonated so strongly with me. I went to a retreat when I was 60 days sober and there was a Saturday night dance. Me, the normal Let's-Get-This-Party-Started freak show was glued to a chair while my husband danced with all the recovering alkies there. I was SO sad, so angry that he was able to have fun, so frightened I would never feel comfortable again.

    Well, the last 2 years at the same retreat, my husband AND I have burned down the dance floor with our signature style. Keep in mind, we are really bad dancers, so we try to be really good at being really bad. It's one of the times that I laugh the most in sobriety. It's the BEST!

    I'm so glad you found your sober jig. It's just so freeing. I love it! Thanks for sharing this really important milestone. : ) Keep shakin' it!

  11. So so so timely! Thank you for posting this! I had just begun to fear (and wrote today about it) that I was never going to fit in sober where I used to stand out drunk. Thanks for the hope!