After a month of being sober and knowing I would never return to drinking alcohol I was feeling really pleased with myself. This was possibly the biggest achievement and most positive life-change I have ever made, I never thought I could have done this!
I wanted to tell people, surely everyone else would be as happy as I was and maybe they would want to change their own relationship with alcohol…how wrong I was!
I started out by telling a few close family members, they were supportive and happy for me, although they were concerned that they hadn’t realised I had developed a toxic relationship with red wine. Then I decided it was time to tell the world so I wrote a post on Facebook announcing my newly found freedom from booze and informing everyone what a wonderful thing sobriety was.
That didn’t go so well, I had comments along the lines of ‘you are getting old’, ‘you are boring’ and ‘it won’t last’.
A couple of friends even took delight in posting past pictures of us out on drunken nights out to remind me of what ‘fun’ times we had and how they would be missed now I was ‘boring’, ‘old’ and sober.
The reactions confused me, if I had announced I had given up heroin or crack I am sure everyone would have given me messages of support and words of kindness, but not when it comes to alcohol.
So why is this?
I researched the topic further and found a phrase called ‘Do Gooder Degrogation’ which is mainly associated for the negativity people give to vegans, it seems that it also applies to us sober-warriors.
In essence, this reaction is triggered by the following:
- Someone is taking a positive action in their life which makes others feel less adequate. They don’t like this feeling and choose to criticise the person taking the positive action.
- The person being negative feels a sense of loss. For example ‘I have lost my drinking buddy’.
- It makes people feel like you are judging them. For example ‘I no longer drink alcohol, I am therefore better than you’. Of course, us sober-warriors don’t think like that, but some people feel like we are judging them.
- People simply don’t understand and their default reaction is to be negative.
So what can you do about it?
It is a tricky situation, we want to be proud of our sober achievements and celebrate how we have turned our lives around but take it from me, not everyone is going to be as happy as you are.
The honest answer is that you may find yourself considering who your true friends are, I know I have had to do this.
You might find some of your friendships were mainly based around alcohol and your new sober-life means maintaining that friendship will now be difficult.
One excellent solution is to sit down face to face with anyone who is being negative and tell them your story and ask them to be supportive, when they see you as vulnerable you will generally get a more positive reaction and hopefully a frank discussion will change how your friend is viewing your sobriety.
Every situation is different, but do be prepared to have a few friendships put to the test.
If this happens to you make sure you reach out to the supportive community of the Be Sober Facebook group for advice and help on how best to deal with your individual issues.
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