I think that my drinking was especially concerning in social settings because being out on the social scene is what gives me the most anxiety.
I can easily sit in the comfort of my own home or socialize with close friends who I trust, but being surrounded by strangers or hanging out with people who I’m not comfortable with makes me feel extremely on edge. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a bit of social anxiety and alcohol definitely helped me let loose and not care about who I was with or what I was doing.
When I first tried to quit drinking three years ago, I felt like I had to completely isolate myself if I wanted to stay strong. I truly could not imagine going to a bar or even being around people who were drinking and not drink because the temptation was too much.
The reason that my first “serious” attempt to quit drinking failed was because my roommate harmlessly invited a couple friends over for beers. I invited myself into the situation and convinced myself that I was okay to have a beer or six at my own house. I just had zero self-discipline at that point in my life. Not too long before that night, I was CERTAIN that I would never drink again, but a small get-together happening in my living room was enough for me to throw all of that out the window. After that night, I kept finding myself in similar scenarios and would easily give in during many other failed attempts to quit drinking for good.
The first time that I ever went to a bar sober was earlier this year. That is something that I could NEVER imagine myself doing in the past. I made the conscious decision to not drink beforehand and told myself that if it was too uncomfortable, I would make an excuse to leave before I thought about drinking. It was my co-worker’s promotional happy hour and I definitely wanted to support her, but I was starting to get more serious about not drinking again. I at least had my boyfriend with me to make me feel more at ease and I kept a seltzer in my hand at all times. I thought that I’d be leaving after 15 minutes of small talk, but I ended up staying and socializing longer than I thought. I left feeling really proud of myself for sticking it out and not giving in. That was the first small victory I needed to continue putting myself in “awkward” situations where everyone was drinking and I wasn’t, and every time I got through it, I realized more and more that it’s not impossible to socialize sober.
Associating sobriety with isolation and loneliness is a recipe for relapse.
It was important for me to spend time alone in the beginning when being around alcohol was too triggering, but gradually stepping out of my comfort zone was what helped me make real progress with my self-control.
I also don’t “resent” sobriety as much anymore because I don’t think being sober means sitting in my room every night and missing out. I realized that I can still do what I’ve always done and be around friends and family who are drinking while having a virgin mojito in my hand. I might be more of a wallflower and want to call it a night a lot earlier than everybody else now, but at least I’m not falling over, throwing up on myself at my boyfriend’s office Christmas party, or pissing anybody off.