and.. how to stay sober at any event
I recently was given the opportunity to meet a potential client for my art work through a good friend of mine who I'll call Raj. Raj's friends facilitate high- end corporate housing for their clients in several pockets around my hometown city, and these friends owed Raj a dinner for doing them a big favor. Raj was aware that this could be a VERY good company for me to work with since the potential to put several pieces of art in high-end apartments could be advantageous.
To be clear, I told Raj I preferred a lunch date, and most people who are sober prefer lunch networking over dinner appointments- there is just less room for trouble. Had I been early in sobriety, I wouldn't have gone out to dinner, however, felt secure enough in my sobriety at (2 years and 4 months sober) that I felt I could handle myself without huge issues. Plus, I really wanted the opportunity for business which trumped any anxiety I had about going to a dinner with strangers.
the anxiety is real and 100% 'felt':
I've gone out with friends and maintained my sobriety, I've gone to a wedding, I've made it to countless boring kids events and their birthday parties, and I've managed several holidays sober. What I had not done up until this point is mingle with potential clients in the evening for what I consider to be my livelihood, and something that is very important to me, which is my art business. I was SUPER nervous and felt everything prior to going to the dinner. I felt ALL of the anxiety. What I realized in getting ready for this get together, was that it is much easier to manage your sobriety with people you are friends with and comfortable around. (That has been my experience so far, but could understand someone in say their 20's having more peer pressure.)
After being seated I ordered a NA beverage where I requested the bartender surprise me with his/her choice. I simply explained to our new friends/potential client and his wife that I don't drink as a conscious decision, and there weren't many questions on this. I didn't feel like I did in early sobriety where I wondered what they would say, how they would react, or anything of the sort. However, I did not go into detail at all about what Sunrise Today is, and how I created a brand which centers around a new spiritual narrative for sobriety. I immediately got the sense that these were not the kind of couple I could share this information with, and also I was there to promote potential art work, so it just wasn't necessary and wouldn't have been helpful to mention Sunrise.
The dinner was good, and after talking for a bit, the wife said we should go back to their house for karaoke. To be honest, I thought she was joking, because who among us in our later 40's, to mid-50's goes back to a basement to karaoke? I hoped that as dinner progressed, this would be forgotten, but the wife persisted on going back to their house for karaoke, and the husband chimed in about how his wife is really good at karaoke and loves it. I explained that out of all of the things I do for hobby or fun, singing is not one of them, however, I was game if they played 'Sara' by Stevie Nicks. I didn't want to seem like a total wet noodle, and told them that singing karaoke would definitely challenge me, and put me outside my comfort zone. As I got into my friends car, I thought to myself, "Am I really going back to someones basement for a house party?"
In the car, my friend and I discussed potential anxieties, and he said I was a terribly good sport and if it was bad we would just leave.
honestly, there is nothing worse than karaoke sober:
Have you ever known anyone who is sober sing karaoke? Typically, karaoke (at least here in the states) is performed after you are wasted, or on your way to getting wasted. It takes a lot to get up on the stage. No one, as far as I know, has ever elected to sing karaoke sober. Not only that, the wife said I should go first to sing. (Which is where I questioned if maybe she was testing me, or trying to make me uncomfortable.) I however, mustered up my courage, and went first, as I started by singing 'Sara' with my friend Raj. Eventually, I asked if they had a tambourine, which they said they had but apparently forgot I had requested it as the night progressed, which was a bummer.
If you ARE SOBER, and someone asks you out for karaoke, please note that there is nothing worse than sober karaoke. (I want everyone to know this for the record!)
this was a time to test my skills as a mindful person:
Instead of thinking about my nervousness, I embraced the moment. Do you know how many times I've wanted to sing 'Sara' with my friend Dallas and haven't? (Dallas is a semi-professional singer and guitar player in a band called ONLY SOUND.) That night was my chance to see if I could sing just like Stevie Nicks, and while I wasn't with my best friend Dallas, I was with Raj, who was extremely supportive and sang with me.
Part of being mindful, and practicing meditation is learning how to focus on the moment, and to ride any wave with steadiness. This was the perfect opportunity to do just that, which was a great test of mindfulness. Not only did I ride the wave, I kind of enjoyed singing. I never realized that 'Sara' was quite so long, but everyone said I sounded really good and had a little boost of confidence 'on stage'. Furthermore, they had an app to use with the karaoke that enhances your voice, and apparently makes anyone sound good. (There is an app for everything- including ones to make your voice sound like gold...here is an article on the best singing apps that make your voice sound good.)
8 ball, corner pocket:
One of the best parts of being sober is maintaining your awareness while everyone else gets silly drunk. After karaoke we played pool, and much to everyones surprise, I'm pretty good at pool- and even better at pool sober. It actually made me feel very happy to be able to hold my own and I enjoyed myself up until the point where it was my turn to go for the 8 ball for our duo, and I SCRATCHED. I was disappointed in losing the game for us, and Raj's friend told me 'no hard feelings'. This was actually the only thing in retrospect that I regretted... having not been more careful with the '8' ball, but if that was the only thing I regretted that night, trust me, I was WINNING.
in the end:
The wife had to go pick up her son from work, which was our exit. She hoped we would still be able to party when she got back, but every sober person knows that you can hang out anywhere (where everyone else is drinking) for about 2 hours and then you are done, so we bid them adieu and thanked them for a lovely evening. I decided along with Raj that if they want to buy art, great. If they don't want to buy art, then that is fine too... basically my attitude on potential business was neutral.
If asked to go 'out' with them again, I don't think I would just because when you are sober hanging out in peoples basements playing pool and singing karaoke is not that much fun. I was glad I gave it a good try with enthusiasm, but wouldn't repeat.
key take-aways for the sober crowd:
1. Above all else, never compromise your sobriety for anything and this includes potential business deals and/or clients. I felt confident enough in my sobriety that I could navigate effectively and I did.
2. It's okay to feel everything, even anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion that most people have, though some have this more than others. Anxiety lets us know that we are uncomfortable, and this is an indicator from our emotional guidance system. Many people drink to calm anxiety, me included- so it is good to remember (at least in my case) that I was drinking to calm anxiety. When we go on our sober journey, then we slowly find other ways to calm anxiety as we progress with our sobriety. (More on this in future blog posts to come.) If you think you have anxiety you can read a little bit more about the relationship between alcohol use and anxiety here from the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).
3. If someone makes you uncomfortable, you can leave. I felt uncomfortable when asked to sing first, but not horribly so. If I had felt VERY uncomfortable I would have left. I've noticed as sobriety time increases, I am much more willing to say 'no' to time spent in uncomfortable or potentially harmful situations or places.
4. ALWAYS have a good exit plan. Raj and I had agreed that we would leave if I felt unsteady in any way. As an added precaution, take extra money with you just in case you need to call Uber, OR have a sober friend aware of your situation in case you need to call them for a ride home. Alternatively, drive separate to events which is usually what I do for most events where there is drinking involved.
5. Give yourself PLENTY of time to get ready for your event. Plan your outfit in advance and give yourself more time than you think you will need. I never give myself enough time to get ready and this creates anxiety. Try to show up to your event early so you can breathe for a few minutes. (This is a continual work in progress for myself.)
6. Meditate and/or pray before your event. Take the time to do a meditation for 15 minutes to align with YOUR best possible outcome for your evening or event. (preferable in the morning) You can do a combination of meditation and envisioning, and visualize your event in the most detail possible, where everything goes in your favor. (I do guided meditations on Sunrise Today on Instagram every Thursday now at 12:00 p.m. CST)
7. Remember that you do not have to be the driver. (Figuratively, not literally.) You can take a back seat and let others take the lead, and just see where the event or encounters take you. Practice being the observer in daily situations so that you can be the observer in the stressful moments as well. I used to be a big 'driver' type-it's in my nature. I can't tell you the immense relief of transitioning to a 'willing participant' in these types of situations. No, I don't love to sing, yes I'm nervous, but go ahead, put on that Stevie Nicks and I'll give it my best.
8. If you are torn on anything, aim for 'neutrality' in any situation. Sometimes aiming for 'joy' or 'bliss' is not possible. Neutrality is at a level on the scale of Consciousness as identified by David R. Hawkins as 250. When we are neutral we release the need to 'control' and trust the outcome. This level, along with courage (level 200) and willingness (level 310) moves us to a position of POWER versus Force. I think in this situation as in the story above I exhibited courage, willingness, and neutrality. I most definitely was not in a state of love, joy or peace as was not possible in this situation for me at the time.
To all of you working on your sobriety, I wish you the best for any situation you encounter...
With love from the Midwest,
You can inquire about your drinking, and become the observer with the help of my Sunrise Today Journal for Sobriety... it can be found right here: