Recently, I was talking to a young man (call him Joe) who is trying to figure it out. (This is not the same friend who texted me about wanting to be sober more, but another young man who doesn’t seem as interested in getting sober as I imagine he’s going to be at some point down the line.)
“Trying to figure it out,” for me, is recovery speak for someone who needs to change some habits and who knows he or she needs to change some habits. There are so many facets of this that you can’t get bogged down by labels. Someone who is believed to be an addict or an alcoholic might just be a party kid with bad habits and worse friends.
I think that might be the case with Joe. Still, just because he might not be the kind of drinker who gets the shakes if he lays off for a while, it doesn’t mean that changing his habits is going to be easy.
We are habitual people, and what and who we know are what and who we know. Thus, if the web in which the habits we hope to change is damaged, we must first seek to fix the web, in hopes that the habits will follow.
Changing my habits meant going to different places and spending more of my time with different people. I think the places aspect is an easier thing to deal with than the people aspect. That is in part due to that caution we always hear when people talk about changing our lifestyles. They say, “You’re gonna have to change your friends.”
Well, come on now; how is that supposed to make it seem like sobriety–or any other major lifestyle overhaul–is attractive? We like our friends, at least we do within the confines of that world we’re living in. We’re forced to think of confrontations, telling people “Sorry, I can’t be your friend anymore.” That isn’t attractive to anyone.
It’s not like that, however; the way it plays out isn’t that we have to change our friends, but that the situation does. We don’t have to change our friends, but our new interests will give us less in common with them. They will still be our friends, we just won’t do as many things with them.
I have not lost one friend because of my sobriety. Nor do I believe anyone else should. If someone is a friend, they’re a friend; if they’re only a drinking buddy, however, you won’t even remember their name when you see them in the grocery store five or seven years down the line; they’ll just be one more of those people you used to know.
Just a thought. Hopefully, no one who reads this needs to worry about such things, but at least it’s here if someone does.
Much love. Make good choices.