Since starting Pedal Faster Susie, I've had many women reach out and ask me what is going to happen to their social life if they stop drinking. It's such a nice feeling knowing that I am connecting with people and they feel comfortable enough to ask for my advice, but it also scares me because in truth I only know what worked for me. I explain that whatever happens to someone in sobriety is unique to them and how they choose to work their program. There is no right or wrong way of doing things (except drinking) and that if they stick with it, all aspects of life will most certainly get better.
The fear of missing out is one reason I kept unhappily drinking past my expiration date. It was so hard to imagine my life without alcohol because every aspect of my life up until the point of sobriety involved drinking. Everyone I associated with drank and every social setting was either directly or indirectly related to alcohol - without exception. I was convinced that people who chose to get sober committed social suicide. Of course, I didn't know a single sober person, so my opinion was based on no facts whatsoever. There was a tremendous amount of fear imagining life without alcohol because it presented such an isolated picture. But, I already was isolated - I was at the point where I preferred to drink alone because I didn't want to feel judged.
Finally, the pain outweighed my fear, and I chose to get sober. My first few months, I suffered waves of anxiety thinking about never fitting in again, but those fears slowly subsided as the benefits of being sober started to kick in. Meetings completely consumed the early days of my sobriety, so I hardly had time to think about what I thought I was missing out on. I began doing the things I always drunkenly talked about doing like cooking, taking classes, or going to the gym. I started reading and watching movies again which I never did because I couldn't sit still when I was drunk. Most importantly, I made sober friends who were counting days at the same time as me. We were taking it one day at a time and awkwardly getting to know ourselves and each other. Making sober friends ended up being the key to unlocking the whole program for me and these girls became my crew. They helped me heal and grow, and the fear of being someone who didn't drink eventually became laughable. I started to see people drinking as the ones who were missing out on life rather than the other way around. Sobriety felt like a pink cloud, and I was floating high. I was so happy to be released from my self-imposed prison that everything felt exciting and beautiful.
Eventually, though, I wanted my social group to expand outside of the rooms of AA. AA is incredible and saved my life but at two years clean it started to feel slightly suffocating, and I wanted to bridge myself back to the real world (for lack of a better term). This was a personal choice, and not everyone would agree with it. Also, I felt healthy and comfortable in my sober skin to start dating men outside of the program. Having only dated men within the program for the first two years I wanted to try dating someone who would be considered a "normal" drinker. This is something I had pretty strong feelings about and again not everyone would agree. If I had fallen madly in love with someone who was sober that would have been great too but I wasn't going to look there first.
So, I started dating outside the rooms of AA. Dating, as it turns out, was a lot easier for me being sober. First off, I never did anything I would later regret. I never sent drunk text messages,drunk dialed, or had a phantom relationship with someone who had no idea they were in a relationship. That actually happened. To my surprise, not a single man I went on a date with cared that I didn't drink. Not one. In fact, when I met my husband he was relieved to find out that I didn't drink because he was tired of the bar scene, and the monotony of it all. I ended up loving dating sober. Practicing patience, empathy, and love was challenging and exhilarating particularly in the New York City dating scene. I was able to see red flags and not make excuses for them. I set boundaries and let people go who were wasting my time. I was finally in charge of my life, and it felt incredible. When I stepped outside the rooms of AA, my perspective on so many things changed and I started to see that anyone who had an issue with me not drinking as potentially struggling themselves or not worth my time at all. Same thing applies to my friends. My supporters would never once question my choice not to drink and will always do everything they can to help me stay on track.
If you're grappling with what your life will look like without alcohol my suggestion is just to try. Alcohol is not going anywhere. If you had told me eight years ago that I would have a beautiful baby, loving husband, and a career to be proud of all because I stopped drinking I would've laughed in your face. And, if you are anything like me I am sure you are thinking it all sounds too good to be true but trust me, it's not - sobriety really did deliver everything alcohol promised. Socially I've never looked back.