One of the more difficult aspects of getting sober has to do with how the changes we’ve made impact our relationships with others, and how those changes force us to look at ourselves and face some not-so-pretty self-truths.
The obvious would be relationships with close friends and family members.
Those aren’t the people I’m referencing in this post.
I’m talking about the people who live on the outskirts of our worlds. Those who operate in our peripheral. They’re familiar enough with us to know certain things, but are not overly close. These could be coworkers, or people who belong to the same clubs or gyms as we do.
In my case, these are the people who, while not particularly close, know about my love for the bottle – and even have a story or two to share.
I’ve struggled mightily with one such person lately. I met her before I got sober, and we do not live in the same town. We are not overly close, but are quite friendly. The majority of our interaction is electronic, via online chats and text messages, and is quite sporadic. The only opportunities she’s had to observe me in person, unfortunately, were at functions that had unlimited amounts of alcohol available to us. We both drank at these functions, and drank a lot.
I haven’t seen this person since I got sober. In fact, I never even told her I was sober until last night. The reason I finally told her was because she had developed an annoying habit of pointing out my love for vodka during every single interaction we had. I was becoming more and more angry that these conversations kept turning to my drinking, and to keep from exploding on her, I decided to be truthful.
“I stopped drinking. I haven’t had a drink since you and I last met, and honestly, that last encounter is one of the reasons I finally decided to quit.”
She replied, “That is not funny.”
She’s right. It’s not funny.
What she doesn’t know is that I had to stop drinking, or die. I had to put the bottle down, or risk losing everything. I won’t share that with her.
The entire exchange left me extremely pissed off, and it took me a while to figure out why.
I finally realized that I’m not mad at her. Honestly, I’m not mad at anyone. I’m simply ashamed.
I made a bad first impression. She’s not saying anything about me that isn’t 100% true, and that’s on me, not her.
I’m glad the people I deal with the most no longer see me as the out-of-control drinker I used to be. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to show those who matter the most who I really am.
Those people on the outskirts, however, those who reside on the sidelines, never got the memo. To them, I’m still a drunk, and they will interact with me in accordance with their understanding of who I am.
It serves as an uncomfortable reminder of where I came from, and why I can never go back there again.