Facing Fears For Freedom
It can sometimes be a lonely place when you're an introvert living in sobriety. So many events that come up in my life include alcohol. These types of situations can make you feel out of place especially when there are people in your life that don’t understand your lifestyle choices and feel that a celebration isn't official without having an alcoholic beverage in hand to toast with. It’s even worse when people start to get sloppy and loud. That’s usually my sign to call it a night. I always make it a point to arrive early when it’s calm and leave before the storm hits. I think that what bothers me the most is seeing a part of me in others that no longer exists within myself. Although I don’t have the craving to drink alcohol anymore I can still feel uncomfortable in certain situations. Just catching a whiff of the certain types of alcohol that I drank in the past ramps up the olfaction process and occasionally triggers negative emotions.
When I think back to my teenage years I can remember how hard it was for me to actually attend a party. I felt the need to pregame and catch a buzz beforehand. This would give me enough courage to be able to make it inside. I know now that I did this regularly because I was insecure, lacked confidence and really had no idea who I was at that time. The booze made me brave, talkative and funny. It was almost magic. It made me feel like I fit in for the moment. But in reality I was only being the person I thought everyone wanted me to be. I was far from being my true authentic self.
Today I consider myself more of an extroverted introvert. I have absolutely no trouble mingling when I’m placed in a social situation. I do however have a hard time motivating myself to actually get there. I’m good at making plans and then secretly hoping that they get cancelled. I’ve missed out on too many opportunities to count! It has been a pattern of mine to avoid social situations since getting sober over nine years ago. But something amazing happened to me this past weekend that has changed my outlook on future events to come. I was blessed to be one of fifteen amazing women that were selected to attend a winter weekend leadership retreat at an exclusive location for my Young Living business. I was instantly excited to be chosen and RSVP’d the moment I received the invite. But as the days grew closer to the big event I began to try and talk myself out of going. It was as if I reverted back to that insecure little girl that I once was. Thankfully my team leader April was persistent on having me go because it was genuinely one of the best experiences I’ve had in a really long time.
As I drove up the long dirt road which led to a log cabin in the middle of the woods I had felt my anxiety begin to build. I parked my car, grabbed my overnight bag and proceeded to walk up to the front door. I was greeted by a group of welcoming women and given a tour of my temporary home for the next two days. I sat and observed as the other guests arrived one by one. Everyone seemed to know one another and began to chat amongst themselves. I started to notice the bottles of alcohol accumulate on the table by the stairwell. And right away I assumed that a storm was about to roll in.
After dinner we were asked to go around the table and introduce ourselves and I just happened to luckily be the first one put on the spot. I began to feel my anxiety increase as the blood flow raced to my face making it known to the entire room how uncomfortable I was. The first thing I shared about myself was my story of sobriety and how discontent I was being in a unfamiliar place with a bunch of strangers drinking alcohol. I’m not sure why I acted out in this manner but it really broke the ice as it changed my focus for the rest of the weekend. I couldn't even tell you who was drinking what after that moment. I was able to let go, be myself and get to know everyone. I also learned that I wasn't the only one out of my comfort zone. We all have things going on in our lives that prevent us from doing some of what we love whether it's work related, relationship or family issues, or just moms being away from there children for the very first time. I wasn't alone and it had nothing to do with my sobriety!
The moral of this story is that our thoughts create our reality. As soon as I saw the alcohol I automatically assumed that it was going to be a bad experience for me and just because I had a problem with drinking alcohol responsibly in my past, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does too. Being open and honest about my situation helped to break down the walls that I've built through the years that have prevented me from attending many social events. I faced my fears, spoke my truth and survived to talk about it. I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to meeting more people, going on more adventures and living my life the way it should be lived. I can and will let go of self-limiting beliefs and free myself from isolation and loneliness.