Since I have been sober I have been more involved with other people. Starting small, because, as previously mentioned I am quite introverted, I have started reaching out a bit to friends I may have lost touch with, or people I don’t see as often as I would like to.
I’ve been building a bit of community around me, to help me when I am down or stressed, and to put some support back in for others when they need it. Dry Lily has more to offer – more time, more patience, more thought… and I have realised more than ever, that it is the quality of our relationships that make the difference to life.
In the past 6 months or so I have been drawn back into the community that I first met when I was married. A group of men (including my exH) who went to College locally remained close and still meet every week for a beer. The wives and partners of these men have become interwoven and its a group of people with different interests, careers and situations – but who have known one another for a long time. When I was living with my ex Partner I drifted away from (most of) this group a bit as I think he found it hard to integrate with them (also they were originally the friends of my ex-husband). I understood this – I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with a group who were common friends of him and his ex wife, Since I have been alone again I have become closer to them again. Its a nice feeling, spending time with people who have known you for a LONG time, and I enjoy their company. Last weekend I went for lunch with one of the other women, it was good to catch up – and I was able to talk about some of my concerns (about my exH) to someone who knows him, and understands.
There are communities that form between mothers of children at school, between the parents of my son’s friends. There is the work community of which I am part. My brother also has some very close friends, again I have known these people for a log time – and we spend a wonderful evening together at the end of December to celebrate my brothers birthday.
I notice that my relationships with both friends and acquaintances have become more important and more meaningful since I stopped drinking. I’m no longer looking for activities that involve alcohol, no longer drunk, or on the way to being drunk whenever I socialise. I went to an exhibition at the Tate gallery with a colleague I have not worked with for many years, but we have kept in touch via Facebook; I met with another virtual (initially) friend for supper one evening and wandered down the Southbank catching up on each others news.
Since I have been sober I met Tori, my sober sister, who stopped drinking at the same time as I. Like me, she has children, drank too much for too long, struggled to quit, and is negotiating life as a dry, professional woman. She has been a blessing and support to me, as I hope I have been to her.
All these people I have met though different ‘parts’ of me. Tori because we are both sober, some through the children, some via my work, and others socially – either in person or on-line. Each offers something different, a different understanding or perspective, a different (or similar) experience of some facet of my life. Hopefully I can offer something to them as well.
Community, or social capital, has such value. Relationships, both new and old, marked by reciprocity, trust, cooperation and mutual experience. When I look at the photographs of me on holiday in August 2016, I can see no hint of the loneliness at the centre of my life. Outwardly I had everything, outwardly I looked happy. But I was lonely, confided only a little of my desperate unhappiness in K, and tried to manage my anxiety and frustration alone. I had a ‘partner’, but I was (or felt) totally alone with the struggle to try and ‘make’ that relationship work, to balance the wants of my partner against my own needs and those of my children.
By building social networks and connections I hope I wont ever feel so alone again. Certainly I will notice if I feel I can’t confide in anyone, if I feel I’m carrying a heavy burden alone…From my past experience isolation with problems generally means everything is not ok. The shame I felt at my ex Partners behaviour and my own tacit acceptance of it isolated me from everyone…
I won’t do that again …