One of the very hardest things for me in getting sober was the massive shift I had to do in reshaping my identity. Aside from beating cravings and just getting through the days without drinking, I had to somehow reconcile myself to being a sober person, and in the process say goodbye to the ‘old’ me … the fun-loving party girl.
I did love that fun-loving party girl.
I think it helps to be honest about the aspects of drinking that I really enjoyed. Obviously there’s a reason I drank so enthusiastically for over twenty years! And although my drinking turned incredibly sour towards the end and I hated every bit of it.. prior to that there were many occasions of great enjoyment.
I loved being the fun gal with the twinkle in her eye suggesting to my houseguests that we open another bottle and turn the music up.
I loved being the party gal dancing till the wee small hours in the bar, exclaiming ‘Yes!’ when tequila shots were suggested.
I loved huddling and talking bollocks with the boozers at boring events, forming our own mini gathering separate to the main event.
I fitted into those scenarios extremely well, they were fun! They were me to a tee. So when I got sober I was pained to know I’d never quite be that girl again.
So how did I adjust to that? How did I learn to fully adopt my new ‘sober gal’ persona and inhabit it so that I could live happily and not drink for the rest of my days?
Well, first and foremost I had to acknowledge that the boozy party gal was gone forever. I had to accept the death of my former persona and grieve. There’s no escaping that truth. I’m simply not her any more. She died when I put the drink down. So yes, it was a grieving process saying goodbye to her (but a relatively easy one .. nothing like losing a real person). Still, the sadness is there and I think I’d be a fool to deny that.
Next I had to focus on the aspects of my new persona which were so good. Sober me has many great attributes that are now being allowed to shine. I have a much greater ability to fully connect with my fellow humans in any circumstance. I’m always available to listen, empathise, understand, support … and drive!
Some of my most satisfying parenting moments come late in the evening or in the middle of the night and some of my best and most memorable conversations with friends and family have happened towards the end of a wedding or party.
And finally I had to realise that there was still a fun-loving party gal inside of me, but that she was going to appear less frequently now that she wasn’t being artificially bought out with alcohol. When the stars align and I’m at an event or party (or even at home!) and my mood is genuinely elevated and I’m feeling feisty and good, I’ll turn into that fun-loving party gal again.
I’ll dance the night away not giving a toss what I look like. Music definitely does it for me (I seek out big concerts more often now because I know what a big rush of happy endorphins they give me).
I’ll huddle in a group talking silly bollocks, cracking bad jokes or just laughing freely at others who are on a roll.
I’ll light candles, keep the mood warm and cosy and stay up late chatting or playing games.
And most of all I’ll do all of that safe in the knowledge that I’ll remember every aspect of the fun and camaraderie, will sleep well afterwards and wake up free from any guilt or regret.
Because no-one ever woke up regretting not drinking the night before.