If I don't drink, how am I going to have any fun?
The two of those things, alcohol, and fun, became so sickly intertwined in my brain. I couldn't imagine having any fun without drinking. Sadly, the last few years that I drank alcohol, that became a reality. I slowly lost the ability to feel joy and have fun without the artificial dopamine high I got from drinking. That high began to trump everything, leaving my day-to-day life to feel quite dull and monotonous.
Going to watch my son's basketball game or my daughter perform in a play - meh. Even going on vacation, I would be more excited about getting settled on the plane to have my first "well deserved" drink on vacation than where we were going. Because it got to a point, it didn't matter who I was with or where I was going. If there were alcoholic drinks there, I would have fun; if not, there would be no fun. I would just be enduring a situation until I could drink again. A baby shower without booze? Forget it. A two-year-old birthday party without wine? Nope, not even for my own kid.
Looking back, it makes me very sad.
After I stopped drinking, it took time to feel natural joy and happiness return, but thankfully it does! Once the alcohol was out of my system, my brain slowly and cautiously started to reboot. I use the word "cautious" because it's almost as if it didn't trust me initially. Like, "are you really not going to poison me anymore with that stuff and let me do my job?"
My brain gradually returned to its natural state before I started to artificially stimulate it with a drug. As a result, I began to recall what fun felt like before I began to outsource it to a bottle of wine.
Going on a walk with a friend, going hiking with my kids, eating delicious food, watching Shark Tank with my daughter, writing about all the fantastic things that sobriety has gifted to my life. The little things I enjoy now. The little things I get excited about now. Those little things fill my tank and make me feel happy and grateful.
Before I quit drinking, I confused getting drunk with having fun. However, what I realized is that drunk feels the same no matter what. Drunk is Drunk. Did I have more fun getting drunk at a concert that I paid $200 for than I did getting drunk at a friend's house? Not really. Were the fifteen Kenny Chesney concerts I attended, fun? The only two that I can remember having fun at were the two when I was pregnant and sober. Those concerts were fun, the rest of them I can't remember because I was drunk.
Do you remember being drunk or do you remember having fun? One year we barely made it into the concert because we were having so much 'fun' at the tailgate. I woke up the next morning asking myself, why did we even buy tickets to the concert? We can tailgate and get drunk anywhere! I was so mad at myself.
Now, when I am having fun, I know that I'm having fun! If I choose to go to a party, you can bet that I really like the people that are going to be at the party. If I don't think the party will be fun, I don't usually go. I have become more selective with who and where I hang out. I don't usually stay somewhere if I'm not enjoying myself because I would rather be home in my pajamas.
I have more fun in my life now that I don't drink alcohol because I can feel it. Like my children, I can feel fun again. I can feel joy. I can feel excited.
I can feel all of it now, every sweet little thing...and THAT feels like fun to me.