A friend of mine is celebrating her one year sober today, and another friend is about to hit 500 days. It’s inspiring. I feel so lucky to know both of them. Actually, I feel so lucky to know anyone else who is choosing to live life without drinking. They are amazing women too.
One of my deepest fears starting out was losing friendships. Losing connections and fun and parties and life. Meeting all the sober women I’ve met in real life through the BFB, SheRecovers and Hip Sobriety School has kept me going where my various self-care tools might (probably would) have failed.
I remember thinking it would be so painfully awkward, trying to make new friends at 43. Trying to make a new life, really. But it wasn’t awkward. It was just saying yes to invitations, mostly. I barely lifted a sober finger to make new friends. I just said “sure!” and went for that coffee, or after work walk, or whatever else might have been on offer. It took some time, but it happened.
In some cases I reached out to strangers who seemed like me. Or like someone I’d like to get to know. But mostly my new friends were just handed to me like trophies for showing up. Getting sober = being a millennial in kindergarten I guess.
One of the very bizarre aspects of fighting low body image and diet-binge cycles is that pretty much every woman you meet is suffering under the same dictatorship. Every single one of us is punished by beauty expectations, the male gaze, the tyranny of thinness equaling worth. Whether that manifests in binge eating, anorexia, or just skipping dessert because “nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, we are all in it. And frankly, struggling with food and weight can feel like old news. Jesus, didn’t we cover all that in late night sessions with girlfriends in high school and college?
With us women-alcoholics, it’s a smaller group. A sub-set. We have a special bond that ties us together. We are all fighting the special oppression of alcohol as a fully accepted, normal part of life. Not every single human on earth gets sucked into its evil dark soul-sucking pits of despair. Most people don’t, actually. So our struggle is a bond beyond the typical shit we women live with. And the power of that bond surprises me every time I feel it.
I know it’s said a lot in recovery circles, but we are really lucky to be here. We have overcome something that our brains and our bodies are not designed to overcome. We are stronger than we ever believed we were. And we are rebels, living utterly at odds with society’s norms.
As an ex-dieter, ex-drinker, and ex-smoker too: I am so grateful that I found these women. I am so grateful for my addiction/s – God that feels weird to type. I am so happy that it all brought me here.
Congratulations Vicki and Casey!