Yesterday we had some friends over for dinner. I think that because I am now a few non-alcoholic social events into my new life of sobriety, I am a bit more at ease and able to register how I am affected by not drinking. One immediate effect of staying sober is that I don’t loose track of the conversation I am engaged in. That is kind of nice. When I am drunk, I always try to increase the intensity of the conversation by quickly and efficiently demolishing any attempt at small-talk in order to reach what I take to be a state of absolute honesty and presence. For some reason, that always seems to require a lot of loud interruptions and extended digressions. And along the way, I frequently loose track of what the conversation was initially about. Yesterday that didn’t really happen. And it was actually a quite comforting feeling.
But I also noticed that I got sleepy much earlier than I usually do. Sleepy and therefore also more inclined to think of the evening as something that would eventually have to end. That is really not how I usually think of social events. When I am drunk I want everyone present to collectively forget those aspects of their lives that do not directly feed into our moment together. Because that kind of collective obliviousness tells me that we are together to try to experience something that is real and honest.
But it was ok not to drink last night. I think a main reason why it went ok is that my sobriety - and this blog - was the focus for our conversation for at least a few hours. When it is the focus for the conversation then my quitting alcohol is elevated to the status of a project that I have initiated and which we can collectively look at and talk about. Almost like a research project. That is actually easy for me to deal with. Because then my abstinence from drinking alcohol becomes part of the conversation and I can more easily relax. It is much more challenging for me to participate in social events when my non-alcoholic project is not the focus of the conversation. Because then I don’t get a chance to unpack my project and I feel more like an oddity in the room. Someone who is not doing what is expected in that particular situation. And that always stresses me out.
At the same time, I can also sense a kind of project fatigue. I know that this blog is the right thing for me to do. And I know that I will follow it through. But it also feels somewhat overwhelming. I really have to think and write about alcohol and alcoholism for many, many hours. And that also means returning to a state of discomfort that I don’t know if I want to dwell in for 365 days.