Sober and adjusting

Sober and adjusting

QUESTION:

your avatar   Brian, 52-year-old man

At the age of fifty-two I find myself sober for two years now since losing it at the age of twenty-two. Needless to say I am meeting myself anew, and frankly I like me.

My problem is that I am "off the wall" too often in social situations. Some people seem unwilling to accept that I am no longer the "fool". And it is with these people that I come off the worst in social interaction, as if I need their approval. People pleasing at it's worst, but how to stop it?

ANSWER:

    Thomas H. Schear,

I am not exactly sure about what you mean by being "off the wall too often in social situations" but having worked with alcoholics for over 20 years I can make a well-educated guess. Remember, you were drinking from 22 to age 50. You missed out on a lot of social skills development over those years. When you were drinking perhaps to steeled yourself for social events by having a drink or two or more. Or perhaps you felt you were more charming, witty, etc. after you had a drink or two. In other words, you relied on alcohol to see you through while not learning appropriate or more acceptable social skills. Now you have to begin to learn the social skills that you did not learn during your 28 years of drinking. You may need to learn the give and take of a conversation. You may need to learn to not be the center of conversation or the other extreme, learn to assert yourself into conversations. Give yourself some time. Observe how others conduct themselves. Ask you spouse, significant other or whoever to help you, role-play social situations with them. Be willing to ask and accept feedback from them about how you come across. Be patient with yourself as you find a more natural flow for yourself in social situations.

Another observation I have of people who are in early recovery such as yourself is that there is an underlying sense of urgency, guilt, anxiety, and etc. that seems to come from a sense that the alcoholic has to make up for lost time and opportunities or they need to make a positive impression to somehow counteract the negative one they created from the years of alcohol inspired bad behavior and there are probably other reasons that I don't have space for here. Think about why you are "off the wall." Why are you trying to impress them? Why are you trying to people please? I have to go back to the 28 years of drinking again. You may be over compensating for your past behaviors. Let's say you didn't care what others thought when you were using, now that you are clean and sober you care but you have now gone to the other extreme and you care too much. You can't make up for lost time. You can erase the memories of past bad behaviors. The best you can do is to be honest with yourself, take total responsibility, determine to not let it happen again and every action you take, every thought you have will be to promote your own sobriety. If you go to AA talk to your sponsor about this. If you don't have a sponsor find someone who has been sober for over 10 years and ask them to be your sponsor. If you are not in AA and don't want to go to AA find a support system. Whatever the case, find a place where you can get some feedback on how you socialize, how you hold up your end of a conversation, how you respond, people please, etc. In time and with patience you can improve this situation for yourself.

Thomas H Schear

This question was answered by Thomas H Schear. Dr. Schear has over 20 years experience as a front line counselor, clinical supervisor, program director and college instructor. Currently he provides online and telephone counseling service as well as home-study and online course for the helping professional from his website.For more information visit: http://www.ccmsinc.net/

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