If you ask me how many friends I have, I’d immediately think about the number of women, specifically sober women, I interact with daily on Instagram. Although many of them I’ve never met in real life, they’re like mentors to me, women I confess my deepest problems too and look to in moments of urgency for help. It’s easy to say, “I love you,” to them because, well, I do. There’s something so easy about it.
But, there’s also something so hard. I miss in-person connection. I feel lonely a lot of the time, when my partner is at work all day and it’s just me and my puppy. I’ve always been an expert at using my time wisely, but it seems to be more the norm nowadays that I dread the hours that stretch ahead in my day. I’ve tried 12-Step Programs for periods of time and I’ve always left. Though there is such community in the rooms, I’ve found that I don’t fit in, and as soon as I go back to drinking, I lose any connections I’ve made. It’s so frustrating. I don’t remember having such a hard time making friends back in school, however I do remember being a kind of loner back in high school. I preferred the adults, always. I bonded with my teachers and without them I truly don’t think I would have survived my former years.
As an adult, making friendships is already difficult because everybody seems already stuck in their own ways, and well, being sober and looking for in real life sober connection outside of the rooms of A.A. is something I’ve been trying to figure out the key to for well over five years. I’ve met several women who are amazing in their own right, but things never stick passed friendship date two. I started up this blog to carve out a community of my own, but I’m struggling in some ways returning to it daily when I know that it’s just me and the blank page. I do feel sorry for myself, and what’s worse is I’ve recently had the opportunity to spend 60 days getting to know other sober women.
I, instead of basking in the sober glow, shut down, stopped opening the program emails and participating in the group, and drank again. Of course, I feel rather shitty about the whole thing, but it occurred to me– what did I expect? You can’t pour from an empty cup, and that’s exactly what I was trying to do. It’s what I’m trying to do when returning here every day, just as empty feeling as the day before. This is a blog about my relationship with alcohol, but since alcohol really inserts itself into every aspect of my life, it’s also a blog about everything else: friendships, my lack of friendships, partnership, home-life, etc.
I’m still trying to figure out how to meet my group of women that can make me rise on up. That make me feel at home. That I can call in the middle of the night and they just get why. I have one very dear friend to me, we’ve been friends since I was a sophomore in college and she was my roommate. I love her to death, but the sobriety aspect is something we don’t have in common. I’d like to say that isn’t something I miss sharing with her, but the truth is, I notice it. She supports me in everything I do and the decisions I make surrounding drinking, but I still feel like I need in real life sober connection. There was a point in time, were connecting online was sufficient, but lately watching a group of sober women meet up IRL and laugh and hug and celebrate, I felt sad. I want that too, I’m just not sure how to get it.
Being a writer is lonely. Being sober is sometimes lonely too. There’s no drink to break the ice or make you feel like you know someone better than you do. Awkward pauses are awkward. There’s nothing to take away from that.
Anne Lamott is a genius on all things everything (she also happens to be sober) and on friendship in A.A. she says this:
A few women in the community reached out to me. They recognized me as a frightened lush. I told them about my most vile behavior, and they said, “Me too!” I told them about my crimes against the innocent, especially me. They said, “Ditto. Yay. Welcome.” I couldn’t seem to get them to reject me. It was a nightmare and then my salvation.
It turns out that welcome is solidarity. We’re glad you’re here, and we’re with you. This whole project called you being alive, you finding joy? Well, we’re in on that.
And, I love these words for a few reasons. Because they express the key to those rooms with the people who are all broken: “me too.” And, don’t we just all want that in some ways? A space where we can sit for a while and feel wanted, feel at home? I want that, but I don’t know if I want that in A.A. I think I want this in sobriety, but I’m worried I won’t find it, unless I’m forced too. Does that make the slightest bit of sense? I’m an adult after all, with more time on my hands than I know what to do with, and yet. And yet, I can’t find my way to sober friendship. If I hadn’t met my closest friend way back when, I fear that we never would’ve crossed paths. That makes me sad, heavy with even more loneliness.
I wrote a poem that went on to be accepted by a magazine called Perversion. The last lines concerned a man I had met in the rooms of A.A. He was always late to every meeting because he was watching movies. When someone in the program asked him why he couldn’t just pause them and come to the meeting on time, he just shook his head. It was the saddest shake I had ever seen, and one I understood in kinship.
Can I pause now and find my way later? Does in real life connection only come when it feels ready? When do I finally feel at home?