Here at the DUI Foundation, we’re excited to partner with Carrie Armstrong, with the How To Be A Sober Girl blog. You can check out her blog here. Over the next thirty days, she has committed to a How To Be A Sober Girl 30 Day Kickstart campaign and we’ll be sharing her stories right here.
And without any more time, here’s Day Eighteen:
A lot of us have great expectations of our friends and family when we decide to stop or cut down on our drinking. Invariably they will not rise to meet our Great Expectations of them. inevitably we are disappointed by this. It feels unstable, and shaky and upsetting at a time when we are a bit vulnerable.
Which is a totally unnecessary way to feel.
Nobody owes us anything when it comes to our decision not to drink. They don’t owe us any special treatment. Or rounds of applause. They don’t even owe us the basic courtesy of not acting like a total knob about us not drinking.
There may be jokes (none of them funny) there may be a condescending attitude or sarcasm, especially if you have prior form for bouncing on and off drinking. There will most likely be loud reminiscing of times gone by when we acted like prats whilst under the influence. Or how short our last stab at sobriety was. Just bear in mind that all of these things say far more about their relationship with alcohol than it does about ours. So let them get on with it. let them say whatever they want.
Let them off the hook.
Your happiness is not their responsibility.
What they say is nothing. How you react towards what they say is everything. I’ve been sober 10 years and some folk I am related to still take the p*ss out of me for not drinking. So what? That’s ok. Let them do what makes them feel comfortable.
The only expectations that are of any use are the expectations we have of ourselves. And fair enough, we are used to letting ourselves down so it seems easier to put our great expectations onto someone external because historically they’ve been a lot more able to deliver the stability that’s required for any sort of meaningful emotional support. Whereas expectations for a person who abuses alcohol feels like far too much pressure. And where does feeling totally overwhelmed with pressure lead? straight back to heavy drinking.
Letting everyone off the hook and being responsible for our own behavior and our own happiness can seem scary at first-but it’s the most liberating part of stopping drinking. It’s actual control, rather than the faux sense of control that comes from drinking “at” everything in a bid to control our emotions. We ourselves are the most consistent emotional support that there is. We are the only ones we absolutely know will always be there for us. Everyone else at some point may leave. Even if they don’t want to or choose to. We will always stay. And feeling the truth of this is one of the foundations of long term successful sobriety.
Don’t be afraid to have great expectations of yourself and your sober life. Don’t underestimate the importance of not reacting to people who try to wind you up about your non-drinking. Screw them. They have their stuff going on, and you have yours. Take satisfaction out of no longer being the butt of everyone’s jokes purely by having the grace and dignity to rise above it. And let’s face it, there’s nothing more annoying than someone who refuses to engage in combat-by doing so you will infuriate the hell out of the person who was trying to wind you up-and so you win. Which if you ask me is a total bonus Emoji
Breathe deeply, count to ten in your head before answering any questions or responding to wisecracks. You do that? People won’t know what the hell to do, and they will leave you alone and move on to an easier target, trust me. So whether it’s a family member, a work colleague, a partner or a friend. let them say what they want. It’s only words. They don’t mean it.
Let it be.