I’ve been itching to write about authenticity lately, so here goes: I’ve mentioned before that during the last few years, I’ve had nothing to talk about – and that’s largely due to me disliking myself. Think of someone you can’t stand to be around – and imagine being with that person 24/7 – that’s what my depression felt like. Self-hate ran deep within my bloodstream and I couldn’t escape it. While I believe that depression is a chemical imbalance in our brains – a sickness – I also believe that the severity and constancy of my depression had a lot to do with my unwillingness to be authentic. Authenticity wasn’t in the realm of possibility for me because being authentic to myself made me different – a cardinal sin for someone who believed that being likable by others determines one’s self-worth.
Why is being social so difficult in early sobriety? I may have put the cart before the horse with my last post. Let me back up and do a some explaining.
For me, alcohol gave me a place to fit in. Alcohol was my societal lubricant; it gave me friends, romance, courage, self-assurance, and a host of other attributes of which I considered myself void as a sober person. Being so readily available, drinking made sense. Watch any TV commercial advertising alcohol and at its foundation you will see human connection. Advertising promotes alcohol as everything we hold dear: camaraderie, relaxation, masculinity, femininity, celebration, individuality, and reward. The next time you watch TV, take a look at any booze-oriented commercial and try to figure out what they are actually promoting. Becoming sober shed a huge light on this for me and I am still astounded and disgusted by it, mostly because it is everywhere. We are told that we must drink in order to form human connections. Human connection is a fundamental desire, so we’re pretty much fucked. To drink champagne is to celebrate, to drink wine is to unwind, to drink beer is to nourish friendships, and drinking liquor fosters adventure.
I don’t know about you, but drinking made me and my chosen company tolerable.
Social settings in early sobriety are a fucking nightmare. Regardless of your conviction, I think it’s fair to say that in early sobriety, one does not have all of the tools needed to actually enjoy an event during which one would have previously imbibed. It’s like entering a battlefield unarmed – good fucking luck. Watch out for that cannonball rolling towards your leg, and that guy with the bayonet gaining ground behind you. And there’s a tank on the right and a sniper in the trees and you might as well raise that white flag already, it’s not looking good. But you can choose to fight because there is always a chance for victory.