Sober in the Lions Den.

For me, a consequence of sharing my thoughts is that at the edit (often which is endless) they are still evolving.

My perceptions as a sober person are new to me; though the experience may have been had many times many of them feel alien and leave me with feeling naive, awkward which clearly is something that alcohol masked.

A few weeks ago I found myself in the beautiful town of Sitges in the North of Spain. As a 44-year-old gay man, you would think I would be in my element. It turns out that despite being the gayest place in the world for me, it was in many ways a lonely experience.

Of course, a controlled few drinks can help make a good night a great one, and this is something alcoholism robs from me. I will never again be able to enjoy the upside of those few drinks which many alcoholics will criticise me for saying out loud. Alcoholics, for the most part, rejoice in their sobriety and bastardise anything alcohol related having shouldered all blame for their failings at its feet). I realise that I was more to blame than the substance and am honest enough to say that I benefited socially from moderate alcohol before it controlled and consumed me.

On reflection and having experienced a debilitating shyness during my first sober visit to the gay bars I needed to think through what had happened to me and more worryingly was this to be the norm going forward?

Thinking back, and without exception, I can’t remember a time (out with the short erratic relationships) where I had sex sober. The one night stands were inevitably fuelled with alcohol and shyness, and any uneasy feelings sufficiently suppressed with self-medication in the form of Vodka. I also can’t recall ever going to a disco or nightclub sober as it was the norm to start the afternoon off with a few drinks at home before parading myself among my peers.

This all kind off confuses me. I can’t decide if I like going out at all now. There are only so many cokes you can drink, and this recently has for sure become another addiction. I drink ridiculous amounts of coffee and coke having substituted my drug of choice.

Things usually start off fine. I have no anxiety going in. I am not of a shy disposition. I am sociable and outgoing. As I write this, I also hate myself for being the world’s biggest hypocrite. The problem is directly connected with alcohol once again albeit this time, not as a result of my consumption. It’s when those around me get the slightly the worse for wear and start losing their inhibitions. Being the only sober one is fine for ten seconds. Quickly anything you did have in common disappears. An inappropriate comment, a stumble or slurred words seem magnified beyond belief leaving me feeling guilty and embarrassed as I am reminded of the times I have subject others to the self-medicated bundle of fun I can be. All around you see yourself in all the inappropriate behavior of others, and it feels like you are watching a video of yourself, out of control with your mum watching beside you. Also, you’re told that the rest of the family and friends you have humiliated at one time or another are waiting outside to surprise you with an intervention which is to be shown live on a new Saturday night TV show.

This has come from the left. I tend not to do well-receiving advice. Especially things like ´get a hobby´ or ´go to the gym´ I lack the inclination to do either, so answers need to be sought within. Lastly, I am it seems a hopeless romantic. Some of you may disagree, but it is far more daunting (for now at least) being sober than being a social drinker to fulfill those romantic aspirations (Which are unrealistic and probably unattainable). People are wary of a non-drinker, and I tend to be upfront. You only get one chance to make a first impression. For sure this has stunted many a romantic opportunity and who can blame them for running for the hills. I am however very proud of my sobriety and the successful personal and work life I now enjoy. I would be more than misleading people if I led them to believe that the person I am now is anything other than the newest version of myself. On the upside, I think that as a result of feeling truly connected and over a decent amount of time, I am now confident that this is only the infancy of my potential.

Lee Robert Ness

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