I’M SOBER, NOT BORING
By Joanne Bradford
A fear that I often hear uttered from the lips of sober-curious folk is, “But will I ever have FUN again?” Prior to going alcohol-free, the ‘fun’ issue was absolutely a concern of mine too. Being honest, it’s been something that has intermittently bugged me throughout my seven years of sobriety: the notion that life is more fun when you drink.
It doesn’t play on my mind too often these days – maybe a handful of times a year – and so far, I’ve never acted upon it. But every time it rears its head, after a bit of grappling, I always feel grateful that it has. That’s because I end up having this beautiful, recurring epiphany:
It isn’t my alcohol-free life that’s boring… it’s that I’m making boring choices with it!
Alcohol helps us pretend. When we drink, nothing in our life tangibly changes; it simply causes our perception of what’s real to be temporarily altered. That’s all. Drink and drugs enable us to behave in ways we don’t believe we can sober, or are not brave enough to explore when in our right minds.
Drinking gave me the permission I needed to be more funny, outrageous and sexy. As an introvert, it helped to relax me in big groups and to fully ‘let go’ – both on the dance floor and in the bedroom. It provided an escape from my busy head. Over time though, I’ve discovered that all of these things are also accessible to me when I’m sober.
Accessing these states as a sober person may not happen overnight; it certainly didn’t for me. Like training your muscles in the gym, a little discomfort might be necessary in order to make progress. But it’s entirely possible.
Once you understand what you’re using alcohol to fix, if you reframe it, you’ll find that right there lies your opportunity for growth. The beauty of emotional growth (rather than sinking a bottle of wine as a quick-fix) is that you end up transcending the very reasons that prompted you to drink in the first place.
Prior to getting sober, I’d often find myself drinking my way through a night out as a way of enduring it. Once I stopped drinking, I realised that I was generally ready to go home sooner, rather than later. This isn’t because I’d suddenly become a huge bore, but because I was no longer anaesthetised against people bashing into me, telling me the same story three times over, slurring insensitive remarks or creating drama. I am also more in tune with my body’s needs these days, such as feeling tired and needing rest.
‘Sober you’ may well wish to opt out at times, and that’s OK. It’s a result of becoming attuned to what actually feels enjoyable and fun, rather than drinking yourself into a state of oblivion where you just don’t know anymore. It’s about accessing the ability to choose what feels good. Another upside? Your experiences become high-quality ones. If you’re showing up for something, it’s because you’re consciously choosing to be there.
When I’m out with friends who drink and I suggest getting up to dance they’ve been known to reply, whilst glued to their seats,“Not until we’ve had another few glasses of wine!!” In sobriety, you’re not waiting for this kind of permission. What freedom it is to no longer rely on a substance to socialise, hit the dance floor, flirt, or get frisky.
No one else gets to define what fun looks like for you. If you’re new to sobriety, you may not know what you even like or enjoy right now – that’s pretty normal. There’s plenty of time to figure that stuff out. Below are some things I do for fun these days. If any of it’s helpful, feel free to pinch it! If not; discard it. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to enjoyment…
Fun stuff: I love wandering with friends – coffee in hand – in nature. I’ve been to quite a few alternative bingo nights. I relish nights out dancing, especially when it’s my kind of music. I will never tire of arts ‘n’ crafts. I’m a big foodie, be that at home or dining out. I’ve been sober raving at music festivals.
On my hen weekend a few years ago, my girlfriends and I celebrated with a weekend in the countryside where we made flower headdresses, devoured afternoon tea, sketched a REAL naked man as part of a life-drawing experience and went clubbing in a nearby town.
Talking of nudity, at the moment I’m re-engaging with my sexuality and sensuous side, as this is something that was much easier for me to access when I was pissed as a newt. Right now, I’m exploring what ‘sober me’ enjoys most between the sheets.
I’ll close by saying this: I want my alcohol-free life to be more fulfilling than a life of getting drunk. For me, that means constantly raising the bar and finding new ways to feel excited and inspired. Sobriety itself does not limit how much fun we get to experience in life; it’s only the choices we make that have the power to do that.
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