I went to a meeting and ran into my neighbor Henry, who lives down the street with his wife and kids. It was awkward but at the same time nice. Henry seemed genuinely happy to see me there. He told me my old next door neighbor—a former hippie who I’d liked—had attended this meeting for years before he moved. Bummer he wasn’t still around.
We took turns reading out of a book that describes the addict’s affect on his or her family. I didn’t have the gnarly stories the others did. I got sober before my life went to shit. But that’s caused me some trouble believing I have a problem. I don’t believe my life would have gone down the toilet like these people’s lives did.
When I got home, I told Charlie I was blowing off hosting The Bacchanal Dinner Club. If someone else wanted to do it, fine, but I wasn’t hosting a let’s-get-shit-faced party. Charlie got this sappy look on his face like I was spoiling his fun. I suppose I am. Charlie doesn’t socialize unless I arrange it.
Most people seriously trying to recover don’t hang out with their drinking or using buddies. The ones who do usually start getting messed up again. I’ve been telling people at meetings who question my socializing that I’m doing it for Charlie. “Why should his life have to change, why should he stop having fun just because I stopped drinking?” I ask. However, I’m hanging out with the old crowd as much me as for Charlie because I don’t want to be left out or get rid of my friends. I don’t want to feel like a sick-o who has to isolate and only hang out with sober people. A lot of people in recovery shield themselves from drinking situations, hide out at meetings, talk incessantly about how messed up they were. I don’t want to be like them. I just want to be normal.