I had dinner last night with a dear friend and amazing human being who is also on the sobriety bandwagon for similar reasons as myself. I was realizing after dinner how much easier it is to fraternize with people who are not imbibing because none of the questions about "why aren't you drinking?" and "how long until you're drinking again?" ever come up. So there's no reason to make up a socially acceptable excuse like, "I'm on a cleanse" or "I'm taking antibiotics" in an effort to not feel awkward.
During dinner we were discussing how when you quit drinking your social circle changes and at first, rather dramatically. In the beginning of conscious sobriety all of the people with whom the only commonality was going out and drinking, fall away. Then, a tad more slowly, the social circle continues to shift as your attitudes about life and love evolve. The people who are stuck in blame, negativity, and resentment begin to fall away as well. Then there are the people who have stuck around seemingly to test your commitment to yourself and your truths as they subtly and repeatedly try to tempt you to live against your own integrity. And when you consistently stand up for yourself, they too eventually fall away. The handful of people that remain in your inner circle of life are the ones who have been supporting you and not passing any kind of judgement. And it may surprise you who the people are that you have allowed into your inner, sober, sanctuaries. In my experience they have been the most unlikely people that were living on the peripheries of my life, cheering me on from the sidelines. The happy and successful people who danced on the edges of my social circles. And now they've come to take up space near the core. And I have caught myself wondering at times how I could have missed their beauty and intelligence.
One of the things I have experienced though conscious sober living is the grief that shows up around months 2-3 1/2. When this happened to me, I was confused. I was feeling so good physically and my mind was clearer than it had been in a while, so why was I feeling kinda down? I didn't recognize the grief as grief at first. Just an awkward discomfort and the anxiety of not knowing. But after sitting with the discomfort and being curious about it I had an aha! and understood that of course I was feeling this way; my life was changing. And while that is exciting and uplifting I realized there also needs to be a space to say goodbye to the people and actions and beliefs that no longer supported who I was becoming, who I am becoming. That I needed to say goodbye to the people and things that no longer served my higher purpose. And I realized I needed to acknowledge those empty places. Really sit with them and feel their emptiness because only then could I begin to fill them with people and actions that supported my journey.
While grief is uncomfortable, it's such an important part of the life process that we can't ignore it. Grief can cause us to become hermetic and retrospective. We may feel tired, bewildered, uninspired, and shy. We may feel very far away from ourselves and who we used to be. And we need to grieve that person too. The person who we once were. That person who loved and was loved differently than today.
It's ok to wallow for a while in your grief. Your heart will tell you when it's time to move on. Prayer helps as does exercise and finding a creative outlet. And binge watching Netflix never hurt anyone either. When you are ready, you'll step confidently and lovingly into yourself while saying goodbye to the past. And you will carry forward all the aspects and memories of yourself that will sustain you on your journey.