Alcoholism – Changes aren’t easy

This piece is written in response to a prompt on The Red Dress Club, a writers website I love.
This week’s prompt was to write about jealousy, an emotion that often brings out the worst in us.
The sound of my child’s scream had me opening one eye, lazily turning my head in the direction of the interruption. As I had suspected it was a scream elicited by play not by injury; I resumed my position of relaxation with a sigh of pleasure. The sun softly baking my skin after a season of sweaters and socks was blissful. As I leaned over to light a cigarette the cool wind picked up and traveled across my flesh bringing goose bumps and a full body shiver.
Fighting to convince myself to stay in my sun-seeking state of mind, I inhaled the nicotine and thought to myself “Who cares what people think, it’s May, I’m not a total freak for lying on my front lawn in a lawn chair in a tank top and shorts. My Grandmother would be here in bra and panties if she were alive.”
Sitting there that day I felt wonderful watching the gang of children on the street noisily playing, running from one front yard to the other like a gaggle of geese. I reflected upon my journey up to that date. I embraced the changes, praising God for the love and support those around me had given me.
As 5pm rolled around the neighbourhood got busier; the adults in the ‘hood were returning from work. Greetings were yelled across the road, smiles and laughter as we acknowledged the weekend state of mind which was upon us.
By 5:30 I was wearing a sweater, reluctantly conceding that it wasn’t quite summer. I resumed my position on the lawn and watched a van pull up at my friend Tammy’s across the road. A man, a woman and two little children emerged. The door to the house opened and Tammy’s two adorable little girls ran out to welcome their friends. The four children chatted and squealed as Tammy and her husband emerged from the house, greeting the other couple.
The children’s antics amused me, I watched as my children and their gang made their way over to meet the new additions to the flock. Memories of times spent with this family on a Friday evening flowed through my head. What fun it had been the spring they had moved in; realizing that we had children the same age and so much in common. Our families had shared some great times, emerging each spring excited to spend time together after practically hibernating the whole winter.
As I sipped my coffee a sinking feeling was coming over me. “Why isn’t Tammy waving at me, inviting me over?”
The man carried a case of beer to the front step and the familiar sounds followed; the case being ripped open; the clinking of the bottle; the sound of the cap being twisted off. These sounds produced a physical reaction within me. I imagined I could feel the cold beer travelling down my throat; the fullness of the flavour saturating my palate. Immediately I pushed those thoughts from my mind, replacing them with the efforts of the past year and a half. Glancing at my children I felt my resolve strengthen, they reminded me of my choice to live life fully.
There was still a nagging feeling in my chest, a tight nasty feeling which I hated to acknowledge. The question remained, what had changed, what was the reason for my exclusion from this happy group?
Was it the fact that I had stopped drinking alcohol?
Did I make our friends feel uncomfortable now?
Was my mind playing tricks on me?
Standing with a sigh, I called the girls inside for dinner.

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20 Responses

  1. Oh mama! I just want to thank you for sharing your story. You help me to understand and have more empathy for my patients and their struggles with sobriety. Thanks you and know you are an amazing mom and person!

  2. We have a patio off our master upstairs, it over looks the park from the rooftop really … I lie there naked from time to time.Totally get the lawn chair.As for the neighbors, thats their discomfort and them not knowing what to do … take care of you and your psyche. (and those kids!)You are just filled with awesomeness … and sunshine ;)

  3. We have a bon fire out back – a real bon fire – not those contained burning devices you buy at Target. Benches around the pit and stones circling the fire – "the party pit" – and I haven't been there since I got sober. Fires are held out there 364 (or is it 365 – you get the point – lol) days a year unless its raining or snowing.Hopefully one day I'll be able to "hang out at the bonfire",, instead of staying indoors watching Lifetime – haven't tackled that one yet/I do get the "neighborhood happy hour" – miss it in some ways – regret it in many….

  4. My heart is breaking for you. Question? Are they really good friends or were they just drinking buddy friends? I wish I was right across the street! I love ya babe!

  5. It's the same with our drinking neighbors.I noticed…those who have no problem with alcohol also have no problem with me.

  6. I became excluded when I developed fibromyalgia and people didn't believe there was anything wrong with me. And due to medication I stopped drinking altogether. Sometimes I am excluded, sometimes I exclude myself. I am uncomfortable in certain situations (of course having been a third wheel growing up every time I made a new friend plays a strong role, and alcoholism in my family). I have tried to develop a thick skin and not care what people think of me.

  7. Thank you all for your comments, I am still friends with these people and frankly I think the exclusion was mainly in my own mind. But I wanted to show how it is for me at times. I love my friends and although there are some who don't invite us to events anymore there are those who do still. In general everyone is supportive, I love when they actually forget to treat me differently lol, but there are one or two people who I obviously make feel uncomfortable.

  8. Ahhhh that's so tough. It makes sense in a sad way. When a certain thing, be it food or drink or smoking or drugs, is what holds people together it's so difficult to be a part of that group when you no longer take part in that vice. Hang in there.

  9. Ah sweety I know the feeling well. 1. If she had invited you over would you have gone knowing there was alcohol there…and if your choice was "sure I can handle that"..Does your friend know your feelings. Maybe she was trying in her own way to protect you knowing you were in recovery….points to ponder eh?? Also remember sweety that Christ endured persecution over and over and over again right up until he was crucified…I try to keep that in focus when I'm up against that kind of challenge. Your Sister in Christ….Sandy L

  10. Julie,I'd planned a 'girl's night out' once and I had to decide whether or not to invite you (because I like you and because I didn't want you to feel left out). Maybe you remember?We were going to a local bar, and even though not everyone drinks, (we were mainly going to laugh and dance our butts off), I found myself challenged with whether or not to invite you.I wanted to…. but I was fully aware of your recovery from alcoholism and I knew that a bar was the last place in the world a recovering alcoholic should want to hang out (if she were serious… and I knew you were/are).As I recall, I tried to frame my question to you carefully, but it came out kinda blubberish. "Um, Julie, I'm planning a girl's night out… at TJ's… and, um, well… I'm not sure if you'd like to come or not… but I wanted you to know that I'd like to invite you, but, um, well… I respect you and I know that it's a tricky spot to be in when…."It's a tough call sometimes for people who don't want to put you in a position where you may feel vulnerable. Maybe it can seem like exclusion at times… but I think many times it's more a case of them loving you enough to not want to cause you any grief by placing a stumbling block in your way. Know what I mean?It's a good thing when we (all) know our limits in life. I've learned what mine are, and although a certain lifestyle had once been so deeply ingrained in me, I've had to cut off some 'slippery places' and a few of those 'slip up people' that would cause me to fall. I've got better things ahead of me! And I know you do too.~Laurie

  11. I think your point is you can't know if they were excluding you or not, and if so, if it was because of your recovery. That's a tough spot, the not knowing. Hugs to you, mama..

  12. I hear you Laurie and I remember how wonderful it felt when you invited me!! Thank you again for that ;)I know that people aren't conciously excluding me, I hope it didn't come across that way (I had a 600 word limit) but it's the processing of the emotions within the mind. Realizing the change and mourning it a bit.It's refreshing to hear from everyone!! I was concerned about hurting people's feelings if I hit publish but I'm glad I did.

  13. I think your post shows the depth of the issue. The kids relationships are impacted in addition to yours. You have the physical issues as well as the emotional and social. There are so many levels to it which means you have so very much to be proud of! I wish you continued success!

  14. You're welcome :)And, no, it didn't come across that way. I think we both agree with what another girl said on your FB profile; that your faith may be more of a reason for people to exclude you than your sobriety is.Life has taken some turns for ya. Good turns! And I'm proud to be getting to know you, lady.~Laurie

  15. Happy Mother's day to a wonderful mama. My husband and I don't drink and are definitely not the rip roaring fun couple….I mean we are good, we are funny, but we don't dance topless on the table. Well my husband might but its doesn't have the same impact as me doing it. lol You know what I mean? And that has affected some of our friendships…we will get a warning with our invitation…"we will all be drinking." So we stay for a while and leave when we are ready and everyone understands that. They can do what they want and we can do what we want. You are doing fine.

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