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Sober Fun is Possible

My first “girls’ weekend” was just a few months after I quit drinking in 2011: a road trip with three friends to the fabulous Farm Chicks Antique Show in Spokane, Washington. We booked a cool house in Sandpoint, Idaho as our home base and returned to Canada three days later with an SUV so full of treasures that I couldn’t see out the rearview mirror. Only one of the three friends was aware that I’d quit drinking and she sheltered me all weekend, helping me fly below the radar. They enjoyed their wine with dinner and through evening conversations, I sipped my substitute, everything was fine.

It was a fun weekend, but by keeping a secret I was also creating  internal drama and chaos unnecessarily. I just couldn’t imagine a girls’ getaway without alcohol because I still believed that alcohol was essential for every occasion. I assumed my new reality a life of resistance in a drinking world and I hoped it would get easier.

Five-and-a-half years later, a few things are different:

  • I no longer hide the fact that I don’t drink
  • I actually like being alcohol-free
  • I am better at assessing which invitations to accept and which to decline
  • I have friends in recovery to plan events with
  • I have built new ways to connect with my friends who do drink

So what is the social life of a non-drinker? Here is a peek at my calendar:

In October I hosted two girls’ getaways at our mountain cabin- one was my book club (mostly normies and 2 sober chicks) and one was a group of sober friends from afar who plan occasional meetups.

The book club getaway was just one night and included a huge feast of a supper, late night saunas and hot tub time, lots of laughing and story-telling. After dark, I brought out a set of glowing poi balls, which a lit balls on strings for spinning like this:

As you can surely imagine, we took turns attempting to twirl and spin gracefully with hilarious results. If you ever want to see a group of women laugh until they cry, go outside after dark with a set of spin balls. No alcohol necessary!

The next morning was all pjs and coffee and chats, when suddenly someone remembered we’d forgotten to talk about about the book! It was a book club meeting after all so we managed to squeak in a book discussion before packing up and heading home.

The next girls’ weekend at the cabin was for three days and included friends that travelled long distances to be together. What a time we had and not one drop of booze was considered or missed! I love to cook and organized the food, plus we had a massage therapist come out and set up a mini spa one day. We hiked, ate healthy meals and treats, talked late, slept in, and shared our stories.

Tomorrow night I am going to a play with a friend, one of the girls who went to Spokane years ago. Although it took me a while to confess to her that I had quit drinking, when I finally did she was very supportive and insightful. It was she who taught me to bring my own drinks wherever I went, and who stocked her fridge with Perrier just for me. She was the one who sent a box of chocolate-covered strawberries on my first sober-versary with a note saying “Now you get to have fun discovering other ways to indulge!”

On Wednesday nights I curl with my husband in a mixed league at the local rink. There is beer everywhere before and after the game, but the focus is on curling and I find it easy to enjoy myself there. We rotate positions and I often volunteer to play lead or second, which involves the vigours of sweeping rocks for three other players so provides the most exercise. My teammates are happy to oblige. Every week we play a different foursome which means I get to meet new people and I am finding this socializing to be good for my spirits.

We were invited to a Halloween Party this past weekend but instead opted for something even better: having our 2-year-old grandson for a sleepover. Being alcohol-free is most important to me in my family roles, especially as a (young!) grandma. To be 100% present allows me to soak in every moment with this little one instead of waiting for his bedtime so I could drink. It allows me to wake up and arrange his berries and orange slices in a funny face on the plate and the giggle at his response, instead of wincing and reaching for the Tylenol. It allows me take him for a walk in the park, looking for bunnies and fish, without ever swatting away voices whispering I don’t deserve to be so happy.

If you are wondering how you will ever have fun again without alcohol, believe me: it is possible. Start by reframing  existing friendships around something other than drinking together (go for breakfast, meet at Starbucks or for a walk). If that isn’t possible, perhaps that person is not a real friend but merely a drinking buddy. As well, make some new connections to build yourself a sober community.

The best thing I ever did was to meet other women in recovery, and for me these relationships were initiated at SheRecovers events and then carried on through our own meetups and gatherings. (Come to New York in May ladies, and I’ll help you connect!)

Recovery groups like AA or SmartRecovery are another place to build relationships. Most of us fear we won’t fit in or tell ourselves, “I’m not one of THOSE people” but the big surprise is that those rooms are full of normal, good people like you and me who share the goal of staying alcohol-free.

As the holiday season looms ahead, this is a great time to think about ways to stay social without endangering recovery. Our social lives should support and strengthen our decision to live in freedom and peace. Does yours?

 

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on October 31, 2016, in Building a Support Network, Early Recovery, Getting Sober, Holidays and Special Events, How I Did It, Insights and Lessons, Life After Alcohol, Long Term Recovery, My UnPickled Life, Pathways to Recovery, Reflections on Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. This was a great read! Thank you so much. I wrote a similar blog https://beginningstreatment.com/can-laugh-addicted-past/ I’d love to get your opinion on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been lurking for a few weeks now. I found Bubble Hour and have been listening every chance I get. I was sober 12 years, relapsed with listerine of all things, sober another four years, and now I’ve been drinking wine a year. I started a blog called ‘wakingup171’ I’m looking for some encouragement and just thought I’d pop on to say hello, This disease is so sneaky. When you let your guard down it strikes. I just want to get back to the woman I was.

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  3. Thank you for the advice! I am 6 days alcohol free and realized that all of my friends are heavy drinkers too. I had never heard of Smart Recovery so I hope to meet people and make new connections there. I live in Cleveland , Ohio and don’t know anybody who doesn’t drink!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How nice to find your blog! I was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. I decided to go vegan, limit sugar and oil and stop drinking. I didn’t realize I had a drinking problem until I saw how badly I wanted to drink. There were days I wanted to drink so much that I could have pulled my hair out. It’s been almost 10 months since I have had a drink and this is the best I have felt in a long time. It’s funny, I couldn’t tell u when I had my last hamburger, but I know the day and time of the last drink! Thank you for sharing your story,

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  5. Sobriety is all about choices, allowing us to grow in unimaginable ways never possible when drinking. I once had someone say to me: wow you have a lot of fun and you don’t even drink!

    I spent my Halloween with my grandsons (3 and 2.5 weeks). What a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your ladies weekends sound marvelous! Where did you get the poi balls? I have to try that!

    Day 123-Thanks Jean and Anne😊

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  7. You were an amazing hostess and it was such a lovely weekend.
    I never, ever could have anticipated that when I sent you an email asking for help that it would evolve into a beautiful friendship with you and those other women.

    Life is unbelievable. I, for one, and so glad I didn’t let it slip by sitting on the couch crying into my wine. It so easily could have.

    Love you

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve found it’s so much easier to make (and KEEP) connections with friends and family while sober. It’s so much easier to make deep connections and have more meaningful FUN! 🙂 I’m sure I’ll still have my ups and downs but my journey thus far has reminded me that I’m making the best decision.

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  9. Wow sounds like a wonderful way to spend the weekend! I laughed at the visual of you and your friend attempting spin balls 🙂 The video you posted is awesome. So beautiful and mesmerizing. Maybe I should give it a try… but something tells me I would most likely hit myself in the face lol

    Like

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