Once you’ve made the decision to be sober and free from chemical dependency, it’s almost as though you’re a unicorn wandering among a herd of regular horses. You’re similar, but also different. And sometimes people might not treat you the same if they don’t understand your journey. This doesn’t mean you can’t have satisfying life experiences in sober living.
Sober Living: Fitting In When You Stand Out
It’s a typical scenario. You’re invited to a party, and everyone stands around shooting the breeze. You might have a can of pop or a club soda with a lime twist in your hand, but when someone offers to get a round, they look at you and point: “Beer?” You shake your head and say, “Thanks, but I’m good.”
In some situations, there might be extra cajoling. “Oh come on! One won’t kill ya!” “A car service can take you home, so might as well enjoy yourself!” This usual ripple of encouragement to join in the fun is relatively harmless for most people.
But for individuals in recovery, it might be another reminder of how their lives are different. It’s possible that certain social situations make you feel awkward, uncomfortable, distanced from others, or even slightly triggered.
Who you decide to tell about your rehabilitation from substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is totally in your control. There’s absolutely no reason to feel shame or guilt about recovery. In fact, some people are quite proud to speak up about it. While particular situations, such as returning to work or starting a new relationship, require such honesty, a casual backyard BBQ doesn’t—unless you want it to.
Choosing not to use drugs or alcohol is only one facet of your individuality. Embrace this. If you want to be truly radical, think of it this way: you don’t have to change who you are in order to belong to a particular group. If that’s the entry fee, you don’t want to be part of it.
This essay on Tiny Buddha explains the concept a bit more.
Focus on Common Ground Connections
Other people on a recovery path are the backbone of your tribe. Your sober network supports you, understands certain aspects of life others won’t, and provides a touchstone to your goals. In fact, if you feel you don’t often relate to a previous social group, broadening the scope of sober friends is a reliable method of personal growth. Even if they’re only part of an online community—this doesn’t lessen their value to your well-being.
However, you can also expand your circle of influence by exploring the common ground between you and other people not defined by sobriety. This aspect of building fellowship takes on a more organic approach, where interests and hobbies drive connection.
Think about a group of runners, for example. They’re dedicated enough to the collective to meet downtown every Saturday at 7 a.m. and jog 10 miles before breakfast. Does everyone go out to breakfast together? Maybe not. But choosing to be part of the collective adds to essential accountability for and encouragement of this shared interest that benefits each member.
Another example of common ground with others unlike you is a spiritual setting. Regardless of your denomination, or lack thereof, a spiritual pursuit often brings strangers together for a valued experience. Does this mean they’re friends? Not necessarily. But there’s an exchange of equal good that every person can enjoy, which deepens our overall connection to the community.
This article from Well+Good shares more tips for genuinely connecting with people.
Celebrate the Freedom of Sobriety
When you compare your life “before” and your life “now,” what really stands out? Some people believe sobriety left them—no pun intended—a little dry as to their options for fun or interesting activities. They miss spontaneity, or even think they had more excitement when they were using.
Sober living presents many thrilling moments without the drawbacks of drug or alcohol abuse. The pursuit of recovery and understanding who you are establish a foundation of freedom to make conscious choices about your life, instead of simply existing in the shadow of addiction, trauma, PTSD, and grief.
Want to travel the world? Make a plan and do it. Always wanted to skydive? There’s probably a place down the street scheduling sessions. Think exploring the great outdoors will break the monotony of daily obligations? You’re absolutely right! Staying open to new experiences creates a spark in life that’s hard to ignore. In fact, some scientists believe that being curious is actually good for us.
These sober blogs from Healthline reveal how people just like you are forming better connections getting the most out of life.
Tap Into the Connections at Willingway
We understand the vital importance of a strong sober living network. That’s why we have numerous options to connect. Check out our continuing care community groups, our Facebook collective, and our alumni initiatives. We want you to feel certain that you belong—just by being your best self.