One of the laments I hear amongst the newly sober is that they are concerned about losing part of their “identity” by becoming a non-drinker. Drinking is just part of who they are, they say. Oh, I get it, I do.
If you’d have asked me a few years ago to sum myself up in a few sentences I’m quite sure “lover of all things martini” may have come up in the second sentence. When drinking has been part of your life as long as it has mine, well then. . . it IS part of your identity, sure. It’s partly the truth and it’s partly your reputation but don’t discount the huge role it plays in your interactions with others. I was the life of the party, until I became the laugh of the party. . . and not in a good way.
It was definitely a big part of me though, and my persona. That wild gal, that bawdy uproarious chick that appeared to be so self confident, she and I were one for many years and it was terrifying to think of life beyond my liquid courage. Booze cured any social anxiety that I had. I was less nervous and awkward and more at ease. I could mix and mingle with the best of them and even though I’ve never been a shy person, I’ve been made to feel inadequate and been less than comfortable in many social situations. Booze took care of all of that, thank ya very much. Instant comedian, just add vodka!
Who would I be without it? Dull, for sure I thought. An exposed fraud perhaps? A sniveling and trembling graceless idiot? Yes, definitely. I will never be the same, I fearfully speculated.
Taking away the element of alcohol was a crippling thought. It was my defense, my armor. . . my SHIELD. The thought of going “dry” into just about any adult social situation (and some with children, let’s be honest) was enough to throw me into hyperventilation. Until I just did it.
That’s right. I just had to do it. And you know what? It was something I discovered at one such gathering that helped me to see things differently. My husband was speaking to a mutual friend of ours at a dinner party and I walked through the room at just the right moment and overheard him talking about me with his usual candor.
“Yes, she’s doing great and you know what? She’s funnier than ever. She is! In fact, I’d say she’s even more hilarious because she’s just so sharp now. Man, I swear, she doesn’t miss a beat. Her wit and observations are even more astute, if you can imagine that.”
And just like everything else in my life, I saw myself a bit clearer than before.* Booze hadn’t made me smarter or funnier, or exceptional in any way. I realized then that by getting sober I had in fact unknowingly become a better version of myself. No, I certainly wasn’t the same gal anymore, and I’m truly thankful for that.
I’m certain not everyone likes this gal, but I sure do. And so do the people that matter most to me and of course, in the end, they’re all that matter.
*Let me be clear, I’m no Gilda Radner or anything, it’s just occasionally he thinks I’m amusing and I sleep with him so he mostly has to say nice things.