This past week I spent five nights in Nashville with nine girlfriends. Some might comment, “Oh… what fun!,” while others, “Oh… you must be crazy!” What made this trip difficult for me is that I am the only one who is sobriety challenged. Which means my intent was to allow myself a drink to enjoy, but not be a slave to alcohol. To succeed I needed to understand how to apply boundaries to my walk and decide which lines to draw so I didn’t cross the line.
This blog post is addressing how I did it; succeeding as a sober woman in a city that thrives on alcohol. To demonstrate my past addictive behavior, recovery, and action plan I will reference the idioms walking the line, crossing the line, drawing a line, and finally keeping an eye on the finish line.
Fall in line.
My intention for the trip was to be present and allow the excitement to propel the fun forward, not the alcohol. After adhering to the rules I established for myself my trip had more pros than cons. A few pros and a con of practicing sobriety in Nashville:
- Pro – Music is the only thing needed for fun. I do not need alcohol to “drop it like it’s hot!”
- Pro – Being submersed in an alcohol driven environment did not tempt me to want to indulge in my old habit of alcohol abuse. I feel a lot more confident about the path I am on!
- Pro – I saved at least four hundred dollars by not drinking recreationally. A Miller-Lite, which wasn’t my typical drink (I was a wine or craft beer drinker) cost $9 each before tipping. To travel to Nashville for a girls weekend isn’t cheap if your mission is to get drunk!
- Pro – I got to enjoy my friends and their drunken antics while being present, fully aware. I have no black holes questioning what I did???
- Con – At around eleven o’clock I turn into a pumpkin and this Cinderella needs to go to bed. And even though I did not abuse alcohol (an average of one drink a day – if I even finished the drink) I still woke up dehydrated and hung-over from lack of sleep. But the pro is I didn’t wake up with my head spinning and that I killed off brain cells one-by-one!
Walk the line: setting flexible boundaries.
Johnny Cash wrote and sang a song Walk the Line. The saying in Idioms, In the Free Dictionary by Farlex states, “to remain neutral rather than committing to a particular position, view, or thing.” I will apply this position to my approach for handling my sobriety for my trip.
Prior to leaving for the trip I was fixated on how I should handle my sobriety. Do I allow myself a certain number of drinks? I didn’t want to make my friends uncomfortable by abstaining (people pleasing). Do I stick to pure abstinence? I told a sober friend my intention was to fully abstain, setting myself up for unrealistic expectations for myself. When I suggested this to my husband he thought I should hide the fact I wasn’t going to drink. I am not interest in hiding who I am, but being fully transparent in what I do.
In the end I decided to not take a stance but to allow each day play out according to what felt right. It was predetermined I wasn’t going to be a slave to wine, but I also didn’t want to be a slave to sobriety. And what you need to understand is for a past alcoholic, problem drinker this is a big deal!
Cross the line: where are the boundaries?
The Free Dictionary by Farlex states, “Cross the line 1. Of an action, to cross some threshold into unacceptable or inappropriate behavior.” For many years I was walking the line, a very fine line. And the course I was on I knew I eventually would be crossing the line. Not only did I cross the line, but on March 18, 2021, I fell over the line, flat on my face!
Personally, after my fall I decided to pick myself up and continue on a solid line. I needed to make certain that as a person recovering from alcohol abuse an alcoholic beverage could be placed on the other side of the line and I would not be tempted to cross over. I would not recommend this for all who are struggling with alcoholism, because I know the struggle and it is real.
Draw the line: applying the boundaries.
I succeeded on not crossing the line on my trip. When a friend offered her beer to me late in the night I simply said “no.” Two individual times I sat at a bar alone to eat a meal and neither time was I tempted to drink an alcoholic beverage. When another friend said, “Karen don’t you just want to drink a little?” I said, “no I don’t want alcohol.” These exercises demonstrated to me that the program, my path I am on is working for me. To continue on the solid line I need to apply my program of living on a daily basis.
In order to succeed I need to apply boundaries. “To establish a figurative boundary that someone or some group refuses to cross or beyond which no further advance or compromise is accepted” is the definition of cross the line in The Free Dictionary of Farlex. Prior to leaving I had to determine what my boundary line would be.
My program is tailored to myself and my struggles. I need to be authentic to myself and remove my disguise. It is time for my friends to be introduced to the real me. Alcohol has a way of convoluting who we are. Our personalities change and for someone like myself be less reserved when I drank.
I didn’t want my line to look like a stick in the mud.
Tips for maintaining sobriety around friends who consume alcohol, https://www.gatewayfoundation.org/addiction-blog/all-my-friends-drink/#:~:text=Be%20honest%3A%20Explain%20to%20your,those%20difficult%20situations%20is%20crucial.
Keep your eye on the finish line.
To keep my sobriety on track I need to apply my spiritual principles. I need to remain focused and vigilant on my purpose. Not only am I to keep my eye focused on Jesus, but it is important to walk the walk. If I decide to abuse alcohol I will certainly get lost on the way.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out”Proverbs 10:9 NIV
The boundary: It’s a very fine line.
In Johnny Cash’s song, Walk the Line, he speaks of keeping a close watch on his heart. (I like to reference lyrics when I write because much like the Bible song lyrics speak to me. For copywrite purposes I do not include the actual lyrics. Rather encouraging my reader to Google the song and apply it to my message. Like a spiritual high, I have used music in place of drinking alcohol to alter my state.) The song was written as a promise to his wife to remain faithful while on the road.
Temptations come in a variety of forms. Next week’s blog I will focus on sexual temptation while being in a committed relationship.
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