Days 15-19

I’m giving myself a pat on the back today.

I went out twice this weekend, booze-free!

This time last year, both these situations would have called for a minimum one glass of wine before, during, and after, but I refrained this time around, and, for the most part, really didn’t have a desire to drink at all.

Saturday night was a friend’s birthday party. Birthday parties are what I’m dreading most about my year of sobriety. You know how girls use Halloween as an excuse to dress over-the-top sexy? And people use Thanksgiving as an excuse to eat themselves into a coma? Birthdays seem to be the ultimate excuse to drink excessively and make bad life choices you can laugh about the next day, during hangover brunch at The Griddle.

Luckily, the birthday I went to over the weekend was for one of my more responsible friends. It was a group of friends I met through church. I know, it doesn’t sound that challenging. These guys were never the ones I’d stay out with until 4am or do shots with at a dive bar. The challenge wasn’t the environment I was in, the challenge was in how I prepared to be in that environment.

I’m a bit socially awkward, at least in the beginning. I’m shy. Talking to new people makes me want to puke more times than not. A lot of people I’m friends with now admit that they thought I was snobby or bitchy or just totally un-interested when they first met me, but in reality, I was just being a wimp. That is, until the Jameson and ginger kicks in. I’ve relied pretty heavily on the liquid courage to shake off my social anxieties.

Ironically enough, I’m the most anxious when I’m around this group of church friends. I know; the most accepting, loving, supportive people I’ve ever met, are the ones who make me the most nervous. The nerves come from this weird mindset where I’m simultaneously fighting the urge to judge and feel judged. Does that make sense?

Ok, breaking it down.

I know most people think their past has a few bumps. Well, mine is more of a winding cobblestone road that I’ve been walking on in 6 inch stilettos from Payless. It’s been wobbly and painful to say the least. I’ve just always been the type of person who has to learn lessons the hard way. Luckily, this is something I recognized early on in my life.

Being consciously aware of my somewhat, self-destructive behavior has never really prevented me from making the wrong choice, but it has always allowed me to find the silver lining among the wreckage. So, at the end of the day, I don’t feel all that bad about the things I’ve done or the choices I’ve made.

The problem is, even though I don’t feel bad, I’m not sure how it makes other people feel. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. I worry that my past makes this particular group of friends feel bad or uncomfortable. I’m not really even talking about who I was at sixteen or twenty-five. I’m talking more about my recent past. This group knew me as I was leaving the church and dropping out of the internship program we were all a part of. This group saw me struggle, big time. So yeah, sometimes I wonder if they look at me as a black sheep, and that feeling makes me uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable makes me socially awkward, and being socially awkward makes me drink.

I guess I still ended up teaching myself a lesson on Saturday night. I stood on that same winding, cobblestone path, but I kicked off my shoes. This mini-milestone was bound to be a bit awkward, might as well make it as pain-free as possible. I think I may have learned a hard lesson the easy way for the first time ever.

I learned that I really don’t have to drink to have a good time.

There I go, sounding like a PSA again, but it’s true. I had so much fun seeing my old friends and meeting new ones and celebrating a girl I love dearly and I did it while sipping out of a red solo cup full of pink lemonade.

I got to check “go to a party sober” off my list of baby steps to sobriety and that feels awesome.

I know I mentioned two sober, social outings this weekend. The specifics of the second occasion are more for my diary, not the internet. But, I will say, dinner without drinks was surprisingly enjoyable.

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