I left my family in the middle of a volleyball tournament in Wisconsin Dells for the SheRecovers Creating Connections event in Chicago. My two best friends and my Mom attended the tournament, which is a pretty sweet replacement for me. Attending my kids’ activities are always my very top priority. However, I felt like this SheRecovers event, was a can’t miss opportunity for me. I wanted to tell the Universe that I was serious about my new sober coaching business. I really wanted to connect live for the first time with others in the recovery space.
So I said goodbye to my family and drove 3 hours back to Chicagoland alone. As the clock ticked towards Go Time, I got so nervous. I thought I might not even go. I grabbed my dog, laid in bed and listened to a calming meditation. This did not settle my nerves. At all. I did my first Instagram story and just put it out there that I was nervous. That helped a little, but now I was running late. My hair looked dumb and I wasn’t sure what to wear. I didn’t want to forget my yoga mat, or water bottle, or anything. Somehow I made it out the door and into the car and was making my way downtown.
Traffic sucked. I was on the phone with my one sober friend. I really wanted to just call the whole thing off, turn around, and hang with my sober bestie right here in the burbs.
I made it downtown and there was no place to park. I was now ½ hour late and counting. There was literally nowhere to park. It would have been so easy to just turn around and head back home. I was in a panic and seriously considering this option.
I made one more loop around the block and miraculously found a spot to park. My car fit without too much trouble or risk that I would hit anything: curbs, cars, people, dogs or whatever. I was able to figure out how to pay the meter. All my excuses were gone. I took a deep breath and walked in.
Taryn, was at the front desk and so welcoming. Plus her eyelashes, we so pretty. Dang. She’s this tiny little gal with arms full of tattoos. Obviously, the perfect combination of tough and tender. I wanted to stand by her the whole night, but it was time for me to make my maiden voyage into a room of strangers.
The room was full with chatter. The women played an icebreaker game from ShameBooth. I decided I was too late for the game. People were already gathered in groups and connecting. It looked like everyone already made a friend. Or brought a friend. Or something. I felt painfully alone. I tried to play it cool and walked around the outskirts of the room. I busied myself by looking at the food (amazing), grabbed a sparking water (not cold tho), and landed at the free goodie table.
I made stupid small talk with some people. It was awkward. I didn’t know how to be.
I know how to work a room for sales, but I didn’t want to be a show pony. I know how to be class clown. I know how to be a flirt. I know how to be a funny party girl and I know how to be drunk.
I don’t know how to be a vulnerable sober person at a recovery event. I want everyone to like me, but without me having to put myself out there. I want everyone to love me, but without me having to make eye contact with any of them. I want them to just welcome me in without me having to do anything on my part.
To do something on my part, I told a few people that I was a little over a year sober. They nodded and said congrats. Then I felt dumb. I felt dumb before I said that too. Basically, I felt dumb the whole time. I was kind of looking for friends, and I was kind of looking for clients, and I was very much just wanting to be left alone, but also given attention. Clear as mud.
I enjoyed the speakers and I loved the yoga. The event was wonderful. I made a coffee date with someone that I can’t wait to learn more about. I handed off a few business cards. Since the event, I am making more connections online. I guess this was a successful event, even though I don’t feel like I did it successfully. Does that make sense?
I showed up. That’s all. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t LOVE it. Don’t get me wrong, everything SheRecovers offered was top notch, including the company I was in. But I did not feel top notch. I just don’t feel like a pro at this new version of myself. That’s ok. I’ll accept myself where I am at. I will keep showing up. Naked and Afraid. Not actually naked tho.
Quitting drinking has given me the permission to do things even if I am afraid. I just did it. Next time I will be less afraid. I learn something about myself each time I put myself in an uncomfortable situation. That is how we grow.
I wanted to share this because I know I am not alone. Many people wonder how they would be social without drinking. Drinking is a great social lubricant, yes? Here’s the truth, it can be hard. Showing up alone someplace new is hard. It is not rainbows and unicorns. But I survived. I learned some things. I met some cool people. I left 100% more calm than I arrived. I feel proud of myself.
I didn’t so or say anything I regret. I didn’t make any bad decisions. I didn’t ruin any relationships. I didn’t do anything unhealthy. I didn’t do anything dangerous. I didn’t blackout. I remember the whole night. I don’t have a hangover. I don’t feel shame. I don’t feel foggy, bloated, angry, or guilty.
Its an ok trade off for me to a sit with feeling uncomfortable for a few minutes and then meet people, enjoy the event and feel proud of myself versus feel uncomfortable for a second, get wasted as quickly as possible, and the rest is history, (which probably includes fighting with my husband, losing my purse, disappointing my kids, and wasting my Sunday after).
This Sunday I went back downtown with my one sober friend and we had a blast doing something new together with confidence.
Show up for yourselves folks. Even when its hard and you feel naked and afraid.