When I was first sober I remember that a lot of my friends and family were worried about inviting me certain places because they didn’t want to put me in a bad spot or make me feel uncomfortable. Because, at the time, I was just so good at communicating with them, I never asked why I wasn’t being invited anywhere and I decided to go with the tried and true method of assuming rather than actually asking. As you might imagine, this didn’t go over well. I started to hold a resentment and because of that reached out less and they of course had no idea what was going on because A) I wasn’t saying anything and B) I wasn’t reaching out. Hey! Way to go AJ!
I think a lot of my hesitation to reach out to friends and family about social events was that really, I was afraid of rejection, that they would say “no, we don’t want you here.” Rejection is such a scary thing to deal with whether you are just getting sober or not. What I have learned though is that regardless of the fear of rejection, I still want to be involved with other people especially those who matter to me most – friends and family. With a little help, I knew that I needed to start somewhere, I needed a baseline of trust with everyone in regards to venturing back out into the social world. After all, it was the summer and I wasn’t going to just sit inside all day by myself. For me, isolation has never really worked out and I needed to work on a solid tan. I decided to reach out to the friends that I felt truly closest to and therefore, most comfortable bringing this vulnerability to. I scheduled us getting together for some dinner and made it a 1v1 situation because I was way too scared to bring this conversation up to everyone at once. To be honest, I had no idea how to start the conversation but I knew that this person was someone who was caring, supportive and would hear what I had to say. I’m a big believer that you can’t fake being genuine and honest and if I stuck to those two principles, I knew I would be OK.
We got to dinner and I was like a 6-year-old getting a gift – there was no intro; just right into ripping apart the wrapping paper. “Why don’t you guys invite me anywhere?” was met with a perfectly good response – “I didn’t know how you felt about being around drinking and partying and I would never want to put you in a bad spot.” I felt a little dumb because it was such a thoughtful response and I knew that he had my best interest at heart. That help that I referred to earlier was my sister. She told me that I won’t get anything that I don’t ask for. With that in mind, I simply asked that going forward, if I could get included in plans and be given the option of whether or not to say no, it would be really helpful. I explained to him that my sobriety was first and foremost the most important thing to me and something that I did not want to jeopardize. Having said that, I was still me and I still wanted to be social and be in the mix. His response was perfect – “I didn’t know you felt that way and I am so happy you said something.”
I’ve learned that I don’t get anything that I don’t ask for, especially invitations to social events, hangouts, parties, etc. I didn’t get sober so that I could hide from the world. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I got sober so that I could enjoy the things and the people in my life. If I don’t communicate that to the people around me though, they’ll never know how I feel.