I got really good at being a spectator when I was drunk.
It was so much easier to drink than be a grown up. Do grown up things like serious relationships and buying houses and paying bills and such.
But when I got sober I really excelled at being a spectator.
I practised isolating myself. Standing as still as possible as other people white water rafted down the stream of life.
I got engaged. That was literally the most adult thing I attempted. I held down jobs I actually liked most of the time. That was also a slight step up.
But anything that involved me being a part of something bigger than myself. A community. A family. A circle of people.
Any circle. I avoided anything like that.
Watching from the sidelines. Being on the periphery. There was a lot less risk in that.
I was an island of sobriety. I told myself it was how everyone did it.
And it wasn’t a very helpful lie at all.
It was a tough habit to break. A lot more so than drinking.
So I decided to leave it. Just stay as insular as possible. Until it became to painful not to.
And one day it did. One day I realised that I was still a massive spectator in other people’s lives.
And it felt horrible.
Being on the outside of things felt lonely and wrong.
And I didn’t know how to change.
So I just felt really horrible about not being a part of anything real, for quite a while longer.
Then, I started taking baby steps.
I became part of circles that I could just walk into. One’s with members. Because that is an almost immediate thing.
And the communities that take longer to become a central part of?
I started forming those links slowly and surely.
I didn’t want Surface Connections anymore. I figured Nobody needs to have that sober.
An acquaintance to me is a just a drinking buddy without the drinking.
My friendships are real now. My friendship circles are real. I feel part of communities I never thought would call to me.
I feel secure and on the inside of things.
I don’t need to be a spectator. I don’t need to have one foot out of the door in case people ask something of me and I’m too flaky to follow through on it.
I can trust myself enough to be relied upon.
I can like myself enough to know I’m worth being around.
And every day that in an active participant in my own, rather than someone sat watching on the periphery of other people’s lives, is a very good day indeed.