“I am allergic to alcohol… I break out in handcuffs.” I love that line. It is always a crowd pleaser in a social situation; the ensuing boisterous laughter is an assuaging ego boost. It also has the added benefit of reminding me that I am still the same pithy, witty woman I was once upon a time before my drinking career careened out of control, ran a few red lights, got into some fender benders and eventually accumulated some serious enough accidents; eventually there was no choice but to hit a brick wall.
Fast forward a couple of years and that enchanting creature who left crowds roaring and toasted many towns is back on the party train– sober and loving it. The most notable difference being that I now remember my raucous good nights on the town. Equally important is that I get to wake up the next day feeling bright-eyed and well rested. It is also notable that I no longer have regrets and remorse from any of the previous night’s activities. I am a recovered alcoholic. My name is Erin. Consider me your conduit for sober fun and tips for staying sober during the most binge-drinking time of the year (can be sung along to the tune of “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.)
December is that special time of year that makes all other less party-filled months pale in comparison. For instance, June has nothing on December when it comes to festive celebrations. I cannot recall anyone in my social circles loading up the back of their SUV with strapping boxes of premium liquor and wine, polishing their crystal glassware and hiring a couple of bartenders for Flag Day. Do not even get me started on April. For the drinking party-goer that is a rough patch. I guess one could always convene with a group of like-minded party lovers to commiserate over the showers or start preparing for a May flowers party over a couple bottles of Chardonnay.
I think you may see where I am going with all of this. We live in a culture that loves to celebrate. And that is fabulous. But we also live in a culture that loves to imbibe. Alcohol. That is a trickier proposition for those of us that do not drink or party in the hard sense, for whatever personal or health reason. After a couple of years of not drinking in social situations, I am actually looking forward to the social events that I will be attending this Holiday season.
The next several weeks of holiday festivities and New Years parties are the perfect time of year for sober-minded individuals to have the opportunity of collectively celebrating their freedom from the almighty bottle. For me, it has become a time to enjoy myself and be fully present in the moment when I meet up with people that I do not see often enough or maybe meet an interesting recruit in the crowd. I have found I am a better listener and assume I am a more enjoyable conversationalist by not repeating myself and punctuating my loud remarks with huge swigs of my dangerously empty drink. Perhaps my most endearing new trait is my eye contact which happens often now since I am not always eyeball surfing over the heads of the crowd in search of a passing waiter with a platter of drinks. It is a new twist and actually a welcome challenge to socialize without a liquid buffer in my hand.
In my opinion, the genuine pleasure to be amongst the company of others must come from within. By this I mean an individual must enjoy their own company before they invite others over to play. I can be quite the wise grasshopper when I wax philosophic. The confidence and enjoyment that I feel within myself when I am around others began with my recovery process from alcohol and, ahem, other things. As many of you know, alcohol is merely a symptom of a greater problem. Mind altering substances are a way to numb your feelings and your life. So going through the process of giving up chemicals while doing the work to find out who the person is underneath can be truly exhilarating and gratifying. I sincerely believe this applies to you as much as it does to my own personal experience.
I feel comfortable in my recovery and continually awed by the accompanying positive changes I have seen in myself and my life. How I feel about myself translates into how I behave and view others today. In my previous incarnation, I did not know who I was because being an active alcoholic consumed my identity. It takes so much less out of me to develop my social skills and work on my personal development than it did to plan my next drink. I find this approach is works in my relationship with me, God and others. I just giving my public they want.
I will approach my social engagements this season (hopefully with you in tow!) as a single woman. I live in Texas, known for its sprawling landscape, awesome barbeque and friendly folks. A lesser known quality about this part of the Lone Star state is the high percentage of married couples and permanently paired-off ones. They will more than likely be my fellow party guests. This creates a new and different situation for Erin 2.0 (as I like to refer to myself on occasion as a reference to my new incarnation as a delightful sober woman). My motivation for attending parties these days has nothing to do with free drinks or meeting the future Mr. It is refreshing and a little daunting to go out with no agenda or expectations.
P.S. Stay tuned next week when I hit the party circuit!
Erin 2.0 recently celebrated her second anniversary as a sober person with friends, family and her shih tzu, Purdy. After years of living in London, New York, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco for work and play, she finally hung her hat in Texas where she is currently doing post-graduate work in Addiction Counseling. Her next goal is to get a ten-gallon hat.