Have you found that you feel like you’re alone in a crowd once you’ve stopped drinking? You’re surrounded by all the people and things that should bring you joy but you can’t help but feel detached and deflated. What gives?
Alone In A Crowd
Why is it that you feel alone in a crowd now that you’re not drinking? You know you no longer desire alcohol, but it’s like you just can’t connect anymore.
I went through this too. You have the initial euphoria of realizing that you never have to drink again and you’re not going to need to drink again. That gets you through a lot of the first initial social occasions, just feeling free. Then the reality hits that you are separate, you are doing something separate.
You Are Apart
If you met friends to go swimming but forgot your suit, you’d be sitting on the pool deck. You would be separate and apart from them. That makes for an awkward situation. I personally think it’s sad that we think we are meeting friends to drink. Aren’t we really getting together for the conversations and the connections? Make no mistake, humans are social beings. The problem is that we misinterpret drinking for connection and if someone is no longer drinking, we assume they can no longer socialize.
When I initially announced that I was no longer drinking, I had no idea that I was going to get negative reactions. I had a friend who I hadn’t seen in forever call me and she said, “Yeah, I just have to admit to you that I was really afraid that we wouldn’t be able to connect without our margaritas.” I have known this girl since I was four years old. We connected for decades without margaritas. Then suddenly, because we had drank margaritas together every time we spent time together as adults, she was really afraid that we wouldn’t be able to connect without drinking. There were a few occasions where my friends weren’t very positive about it and they felt like, “Oh – well, what about our friendship? Will we be able to connect, will we have anything to say?”
It’s Not Just You
You aren’t imagining feeling alone in the crowd not drinking. Many times those around you will put barriers up. You’re alone in the crowd because you’re doing something different. You have upset the balance and your friends aren’t sure how to react. They are afraid that something in your friendship has now changed. That in turn makes you afraid and now everyone is just awkward and uncomfortable. All over a liquid in a bottle. Your choice has made them start thinking about their drinking or their perceptions about non-drinkers. Overnight they decided you must now be boring or even worse – judging them.
You are going to feel disconnected for some time. Off balance you could say. For me, that lasted about 30 days, but it differs for everyone. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that cognitive impairment in your brain can start to show significant improvement after a year. For most of us trying to get past that initial 30, 60, or 90-day phase – one year seems monumental!
Remember that I also say that one year is almost a magical mark. It has allowed you to experience and reshape your experiences on everything. You now know that there is nothing in this world that needs to be synonymous with drinking alcohol. That is a powerful realization right there. At one year you move past the questioning phase of not drinking and start to ease in to just living alcohol free.
Start reading This Naked Mind free today and learn more about why we feel so alone in a crowd when we stop drinking.
Putting Yourself Out There
One of the reasons we feel detached is because alcohol numbs us a bit. It slows down your brain function, it slows your ability to react to things, including risks. Hence why you’re more likely to strike up a six hour friendship with the guy on the barstool beside you when you’re drinking. Rather than detaching yourself at an event, look at a party or a social opportunity as an experiment. Say, “This is an experiment tonight. How I can make this fun tonight? What will help me remember that I don’t need to drink tonight?”
Ask yourself, “Why am I here? I want to connect with people and nourish that part of my psyche. How am I going to do that? I’m going to talk to people. No – I’m going to listen to people, I’m going to ask questions and really get to know them. “
Now instead of twiddling your thumbs on the sidelines, you have a mission. No longer are you awkward, instead you’re the life of the party and by taking the time to really talk and listen to others you’ve pretty much made their night as well.
It Gets Easier
There does come a point where you stop thinking about it. You stop feeling alone in the crowd without alcohol because you stop giving alcohol any importance at all. People rarely bring drinks to events at our home anymore. They’ve all learned through experience that we have an amazing time talking, listening and laughing alcohol free. You’ll get there too. Give it time.