Who are you?

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.

A Love Letter

 Well, I guess we both knew it was inevitable.
Looking back, we had a pretty good run, I suppose. I mean, we had our ups and downs, sure, every relationship does. I suppose I held on to the happier memories hoping that we could relive them once again, but I was only continually reminded that sometimes the past is better just left there.

I remember when we first crossed paths, many years ago in college. I was so innocent and sheltered, and you opened me up to another world. You gave me confidence and helped me out of my awkward shell. I was chatty, funny even. With you by my side, I was the life of the party. You’d usher me out nightly into a world I’d never known…parties, dances, mixers and bars. I was immediately mesmerized by your magnetism and charm. We were a formidable team. Through you, I found what I thought was my voice.

Of course, all good things must come to a end and as I matured and entered the “real” world, I would often wonder if ultimately we had a positive relationship. Sometimes you’d talk me into staying out too late, or even worse, coax me into chatting up the wrong fella. Sometimes you’d convince me into something so outrageous and dangerous, people doubted our sanity. But, I always forgave you. Other times we’d get together and reminisce. Often, we’d cry tears of regret for all of our stupid and regrettable decisions. But, time and time again, I’d return, the inevitable moth to the flame as when you shone brightly, you’d be hard to resist. You made me feel better about myself. You gave me strength at times as well as tremendous shame. You were such a chameleon and I, your hapless puppet. You were always what I needed when I needed you, or so I thought. Sometimes though, you made me hate myself.

We’ve broken ties time and time again. It never lasts. I always come crawling back, unable to escape your charm and your constant accessibility. Always being there for me was something I counted on, as pathetic as that sounds. However, more often than not, our excursions began to end in negativity and regret. It was a painful truth to acknowledge, but our relationship had become toxic. I guess I finally outgrew you.

Well, enough is enough, my old friend. Our love story must end. Perhaps about two decades over due, really.

I’ll miss you, sure. We had a lot of fun, and like a couple after a terrible divorce I suppose eventually I’ll only remember the good times and the happy memories and wonder ultimately what went wrong.

Then again, maybe not. So long, old pal.