This article originally appeared in Gratitude and Trust
It happened AGAIN!
I have been clean and sober for 22 years, 347 days.
I know by the hatred, the dread, and all the excuses I come up with not to attend large parties that I am NOT comfortable in those environments. You know the company xmas parties, milestone birthdays, the parties where there is lots of alcohol and lots of falseness. You have probably been to one or two of them yourself.
I never was good at these so I always find a way to work myself to the wall, to the bathroom, down the stairs and out the door so I am home within 2 hours and that is exactly what I did at the most recent ones. There have been back to back celebrations and while I am grateful to be included, I am declaring I fucking hate them!
People do not believe me when I tell them I am shy because of my outward appearance of total confidence and control. People do not know that for the majority of my life I have been almost crippled by self-doubt, the only thing that saves me from the life of a hermit is my stubbornness. I will not be held down so I venture; I shake with fear inside and do it anyways but that does not mean that I am comfortable.
I have always been a bit of a social outcast. It could be because we moved every 6 to 9 months or that we celebrated birthdays and xmas one year and not the next (never knew) or that my home was chaos but I never felt like it ‘fit in’. I did not ‘belong’ in more ways than one. My social awkwardness is often misunderstood for being cold, a bitch, someone who thinks she is better than everyone else. My friends have tried to defend me on occasion, telling people of my delightfulness, my wicked humor and compassion but what people at parties see is someone who does not fit in. I can stand in front of hundreds of tactical officers and present case studies, I can negotiate hostages out, I lead and coach people, I am an excellent presenter and facilitator but stick me in a large party and I turn into a turtle who does not know how to be, how to act, how to engage.
I am a MISFIT.
.....and this social awkwardness, this not fitting in, this not belonging led me straight to what I saw as a young child, namely people drinking alcohol. I watched the parties from the hall in my pajamas and snuck a sip when no one was looking. I drank what was left behind in the morning and learnt to look into the beer bottle in case of cigarette butts – not appropriate education for a 7 year old but man, that 7 year old liked the way that stuff made her feel, kinda took the edge off. However, as I grew, it no longer was a sip or two, a drink or two, a rail or two, to take the edge off, no, it was daily, high functioning alcoholic and addict behavior.
I drank and then turned to drugs and drank more so I could stop the awkwardness, the not belonging ache in my centre and stop the misfit aura. I worked for a while and then it didn’t work and now here I am clean and sober for 22 years, 347 days and still a social MISFIT.
I started to wonder how many of the people are the same as me? How many are awkward, feel as though they don’t fit in, and are pretending to have fun? How many addicts are addicts because they feel or felt like me?
You see the older, the cleaner, the soberer (my new word) I get the more I am concerned with knowing your souls thoughts, your deep core beliefs, your darkest fears, your most exhilarating passions and, your secret desires. I am NOT interested in making small talk about the weather and getting so obliterated I don’t know where I am.
Maybe being a social MISFIT is ok if it means deep conversations, soul searching, finding your tribe and being deliciously comfortable in your own skin.
I am going to stick with the small parties of like minded, sober people and I will practice my wall hugging exit strategies for when those big parties are unavoidable. All I can say is I am so blessed to be sober!