Kelly Fitzgerald is now a sober writer, published among others on the Huffington Post, who wrote a best seller entitled The Adventures of the Sober Señorita. In it she reports on his life as a ‘party girl’ and later on, doing the same things while sober. No dramas. Other than that it is fairly simple the way she exposes what usually happens.
Have you ever got drunk, had a very unpleasant hangover and thought to yourself:
- This is not funny.
- What am I doing with my life?
- I no longer want to live like this.
- Why can’t I drink normally?
Well you’re not the only one. When you’re used to taking pictures before a social interaction no matter which, and accustomed to drink even if just one glass before that, the feeling of soberness in such a place may feel a bit odd. No way.
I already mentioned this on another article: socialising is something historically and culturally associated with alcohol. Kelly writes:
Let’s face it: if you ever watched television, browsed the web or Facebook pages, you already have seen alcohol industry ads. Have you thought about what you could be doing on a Friday night? And that could also be about what to mix with vodka on that night and how that would lead you to meet beautiful people in a bar or a discotheque. That is one of the reasons why it took me so long to try sobriety. I used to truly think it was the only way to be able to socialise. It took me a while to finally adjust myself to life. When you associate any sort of social interaction to at least two or three ‘shots’, before doing so, we feel like a stranger by showing up sober in those places. Every event and situation in which I participated sober, was a learning opportunity that ended up proving me that it is so much better socialising sober than drunk. And why is that?
- It is genuine – I was always that sort of drinker who felt these almost spiritually deep connections with friends, who were also drunk. I would meet someone at a disco’s toilet around 2 am and we would be besties until the end of the night. I had tons of party comrades, people I could call anytime and convince them to drink with me. Since I became sober I have been realising how fake those connections were. It takes more than drinking tequila shots or whiskies to become really intimate with another human being. Sobriety showed me that genuine connections are made with a clear mind.
- It doesn’t require hangover – While I was actively socialising towards alcohol, I had a hangover always stuck to me. Mostly because I couldn’t socialise without alcohol. I won’t lie: I had the time of my life for several days while I was drinking, but the price to pay was a sordid hangover. It doesn’t matter how much fun I had: I was paying for that the morning after. Socialising while sober does not require the exchange rate that is hangover. Nowadays, every time I go to an event I can wake up freshly.
- You can develop relationships with substance – The relationships I had with other people that also drunk had no substance at all. When I became sober, I left behind many friends because I understood that we had absolutely nothing in common. What we had in common was drinking and drama. It is so much easier to find people who share the same vision of the world when we are sober. They understand what we look for in life and we create relationships that are effectively real.
- Letting go of what to worry or be ashamed of – My drinking years were a long story of embarrassing situations. I know people who drink and are not alcoholics, but nevertheless they more than once embarrassed themselves for being drunk. The beauty of socialising sober is that no more will you have to worry about shaming yourself. Naturally it is possible to commit a mistake or say something silly without drinking, but the sometimes dramatic extension of what used to happen while drinking, is no longer present.
- You will remember conversations – It almost hurts to know that I cannot seem to remember crucial details of my life due to my habit. And it is not just that. Serious things such as surgeries, deaths and other important events that happened which I can barely remember.
- Find new points of interest in people that you can truly like – While socialising sober I found new hobbies that I did not know I like. It is in fact a wrong perception the one we have, that we will never be able to have fun while sober and that socialising will be tough. The truth is we ended up finding new ways to do so. I started doing Crossfit and met new people in that community. But it could have been any other thing. Sobriety offers time to find new activities and people.
- Friendship is based on values: do not drink if you want to make friends – I have never understood how much my life was based on alcohol until I gave up drinking. I thought that I was drinking like any other person of my age, but in truth I was always looking for the company of people that were also drinking. Today common sense tells me that sober friendships are based on real values such as loyalty, honesty and trust.
- Having the choice to either socialise or not – I never understood that until I became sober, but socialising was something that was forced to me. While drinking was associated with socialising, it was too associated with drinking. I did not have a choice about the matter. I felt like I was wearing a mask, be it the ‘party life’ one or any other act where I had to interact with another person. Now sober I can pick when do I want to socialise or if I want to. And I no longer equate socialising with drinking.
Establishing the separation between drinking and socialising makes sense. After all, socialising sober is way more pleasant: everyone can be what they really are. You can go when you want and because you want, which raises self-esteem and the certainty that you decide what do you want for your life.
Kelly reached this conclusion, as with many other alcoholics after a long process in which many serious situations happened and, as she states herself, many of them embarrassing, sad, dangerous and even humiliating.
The fact that society keeps associating parties, amusement, socialisation and even friendship to alcohol, does not help at all.
In another article I promised that I would be speaking of this once again, since it is serious and portrays exactly what a still backward society does. I will leave now a ‘shortie’ that Ricardo Belo de Morais, a great friend of mine and a man aware of social and cultural questions, reasonably and soulfully wrote, some time ago on his Facebook wall,
It matters more and more that the beer brand knows that friends do not need its beer to maximise the good moments. Beer sprees with this brand or any other, there are nothing but shitty health damaging moments. It would be great, by the way that the beer brand would know that by sponsoring university student parties, as it was with last week’s in Santos, it can do it without installing dozens of metallic ale dispensers, bombing the content of one hundred barrels in only one night. Disgusting people that have constantly been ruining us generations of youngsters.
Youngsters and adults. Man-made that from these sorts of irrational beliefs set off their adulthood, by associating alcohol with these types of concepts.
The drama is that later on, it will be so much harder to stop this enormous giant wheel that is life controlled by alcohol, without the person being aware of.
Ana Pinto-Coelho is an addiction counsellor. Ana finished her degree from the University of Oxford and is committed to advancing her profession in Portugal. She currently runs a private practice in Lisbon, Portugal and her commitment is to help individuals, and their families, who are struggling with addiction. She believes that counselling is both an effective and safe means to self-understanding, and ultimately recovery. Hence, she aptly named her clinic Safe Place.
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