When a new addiction beckons

When I finally stopped going to bars

A year after I quit drinking, I avoid my old haunts. But now that I'm not a lush anymore -- what, exactly, do I do?

I quit drinking more than a year ago. It was time. None of my closest friends said, "Wow, I didn't know you had a problem," because that was untrue. What they mostly said was, "Good for you." And, "Let me know how I can be helpful." But what I struggled with -- and still struggle with, more than 365 days after I drained my last glass of sauvignon blanc at a friend's wedding reception -- was telling people who weren't my closest friends. Who might have been close, but not that close.

[. . .]

But since moving back to Texas from New York last month -- and embarking on the string of reunion dinners and meet-ups this entails -- I feel I owe my former drinking buddies fair warning. I know what it was like to anticipate a debauched evening at the bar only to hear, "I'm pregnant!" Or, "I've decided to cut back." And what was going to be a last-call rager got tragically downshifted to two guilty glasses and bed by 11 p.m. Yay, good for you, I'd say, sipping a glass of wine that suddenly felt like it was the size of a thimble.

[. . .]

When Tim and I did meet for lunch, at a place I remembered for its hearty salads, we talked about this for a bit. I was expressing disappointment that I hadn't seen the guys from the magazine he runs, the guys I usually catch up with over a pint or four.

"We could go bowling," Tim says. "Or play kickball."

Ugh: sports. I didn't want to sound too negative. But how do you explain to someone you only know through bar chatter that you are embarrassed by the world? That you can't do anything that involves running, sweating or standing outside? This is why drinking was so convenient. It was a smoke screen for the fact that I sucked at everything else.

[. . .]

What I really like to do, though -- what I like more than anything else, more than anything in the world, whether I'm at the bar or languishing in my apartment -- is to talk to people. I like to have honest conversations with other humans that surprise me, and challenge me, and make me think about my life in new ways. It's what I always wanted from the bar in the first place. And it strikes me, driving home that day, that it's exactly what I just had. (Sarah Hepola, “When I finally stopped going to bars,” Salon, 21 July 2011)

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fuck that

Thats a lot of nerve about choosing a "healthy lifestyle"........try boring. Not to say getting drunk off your ass every night is a good choice but the fact is that sobriety as it is preached by the American Prude Movement, both right and left, is pretty fucking boring. So what do you do?????Play board games and drink decaf coffee. Bad choice, unless you were headed to the grave on the fast track. And even then, Fast track to the grave may be a lot more fun than singing the blues about boredom. (quiet man)

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"Lush"

So people who drink are "lushes". Whatever. (kugelschreiber)

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Allow me to be bold, as an anonymous voice in an electronic wilderness. There is a book; a short, simple, cheap book, that neither preaches, nor feels like self-help in any way. But if it helps you even a tenth as much as it helped me, it will be worth you picking it up.

It's called The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.

I think what you seek will not be found in husband, kids, drink, job, or any of those things, for those are identities, and in the finality of it all, fictitious.

The identity is the problem, and this moment is the solution.

My best wishes and best of luck to you. (John McCall)

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Think of things you like to do and do them

Take a class at the local college. Go on an alumni travel tour. Hang out at museums. Learn to ride a horse. Find a really nice cafe and make some new cafe friends. My late mother used to go out for breakfast at the same place every day. She'd only have a Danish or some toast and coffee, but over time she got to know the regulars and so it was always a get-together. (expatjourno2)

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Ms H, I Know Just How You Feel...

Way back in my 300+ lb days, before I learned I was a Type 2 diabetic, I treated food the way you treated your drinking. But in my case, I had to stop using food as I had: I ate from boredom, recreation, fear, anger, fill in the blank.

Once I regulated my eating habits, I learned how to eat again: B/C I WAS HUNGRY. I was amazed at how much time and $$ I was wasting on my earlier habits. That's when I got a life--and I still regulate my blood sugar w/diet and exercise alone, 15 yrs later and 140 lbs ago.

What you did is what I did: you reclaimed your life and time. And as you age, you come to appreciate how precious time really is, and learn not to waste it.

Good for you! (elsma03)

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A year sober

Congratulations!

You've already kept sober for a year and made a major lifestyle move, back to TX.

I'm assuming you've GOT to have a car now, and there are a lot of scenic and historical things to see...and since it's now safe for you to drive... (Greeneyedkzin)

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Identity

You probably know this but I'm going to say it out loud. It's not that there isn't anything fun to do outside of going to bars -- it's that the people you want to spend time with only know how to have fun at bars. It's a quandary. There are tons of interesting people doing interesting things at all times of the day and night without alcohol -- but you have to shift your sense of your self to find them.

Good luck. I enjoy your writing and I hope that you find something that works for you. (And have you thought about corresponding with Roger Ebert?) (amspeck)

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Realize this.

Those old drinking "friends" aren't really friends if they only like you because you drink with them. I put the cork back in the bottle twenty-five years ago. There are people I used to see and drink with weekly who I haven't seen nor spoken with for twenty-five years. They only wanted to be around a "Good-time Charlie" and I only wanted my sobriety and life back. I have new and better friends now, people who enjoy my company because of who I am, not who I become when drunk. Good luck. Once you get past the, "nobody loves me" stage of your new-found life, you'll will get on with the business of actually living. I wish you peace. (Robert David Clark)

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The Discoveries Are Inward

It is indeed hard to replace the social aspects of the bars with the humdrum everyday activities of sobriety. But the sad truth is that sobriety only got worse until I went inside and opened up the spiritual longing that I had tried to fill with alcohol, sex, drugs or a host of other diversions. I am grateful now that I have been driven from the rather narrow diversion of the bars and into the broad and exciting scope of a spiritual reality (I, frankly, once thought of as bullshit).

Anyone can stop drinking. I did it every day. Sobriety is so much more than the cessation of drinking: it is the opening up of a new life of adventure I never imagined to exist. (trungpapa)

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You shouldn't make fun of these "hobbies"

You lost your hobby, drinking - you should find another one. There are in fact people who passionately care about art, book clubs, dance, music, politics, actually important things that make your life deeper and richer. Find which one of these you love and throw yourself into it! (TomRitchford)

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On a side note, I second an earlier poster's suggestion that you learn to ride a horse. It's a great way to get outside and play without alcohol, sports talk, or boredom. Admittedly, though, you'd meet more men (if that's one of your goals) with contra dancing. (EditGrrl)

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Put away your prejudices and the insecurities that you hid with drinking and choose exercise. Go bowling! Go to a softball game. There may be drinking there as well but you might find it easier to avoid. If you can't, go to a yoga class or a spin class. No drinking there and no one will judge you if you aren't great at first. You'll find a social circle among people whose values are healthy in both senses of the word. (BuffCrone)

No longer the lush

How about just dwelling on the fact that you appear to have left something damning behind you, and just in time? I mean it; every day you could just look at the rest of America that is still, despite all the news and bad press, keeping on with their depressing bad habits, their indulgent, self-destructive ways, and know that they -- not you -- are going down. You'll find many other former sketchy ones who now too count themselves amongst the pure -- like that former Salon editor who lost 200 pounds and kept it off for a year, who wrote in to let us know that and also of how he has learned to subsist on less than 1200 calories a day, leaving us to think his new reformed self is such that he needed to learn he still required more than the random nutrients you inhale as you walk through the streets of New York to survive; or the new food writer, Felissa, who has left luxuries behind her and made life "an exercise of reduction" and humility; or the young ’un Drew Grant, who newly preaches how "you still owe them [i.e., your parents] your life and your respect," showing how you're never too young to scold like an elder and to abort much that could have interesting in your life for a surer sense of earned protection.

I truly think this is going to get you by. You'll more than survive, and even thrive, and every day you'll be encouraged to think yourself elected and deserving. Whatever great adventure you make of your life now that you've finally begun living, whether it's joining exciting groups, seeing America's notable sites, or just settling into a less complicated but more human, satisfying life, it will be this pleasure that foremost makes you feel you've made a turn for the better.

Link: When I finally stopped going to bars (Salon)

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