It's not easy coming clean about your recovery. Admitting to recovery means admitting a problem and that's not an easy thing to do.
When I first quit drinking I didn't make it public knowledge. My close friends and family knew about it but that was it. I think the more people that know, the heavier the weight feels on you - in the beginning at least. These days for me it's a breeze publicly admitting to both my sobriety and my drinking problem. But it took about six months of continued sobriety before being able to admit to myself that my drinking was a problem.
Since then I've met friends and formed relationships and in social scenarios when offered a drink, I have always said, "I don't drink." To me it seems easier to say that than, "I've quit drinking." When acquaintances find out you've quit drinking, there's always questions, and sometimes they aren't easy to answer. It was easier for me to say I didn't drink. But at this point in my recovery I'll tell anybody my story happily.
The reactions you get are interesting, sometimes heartbreaking, and every one will truly be eye-opening. People will define themselves based on their reaction to your sobriety and recovery - believe me.
I've found close friends and family to be incredibly supportive.
Of course my family first and foremost has been my rock. They've watched me struggle intensely with issues regarding self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, you name it - they've watched it all since I was a child. Alcohol for me was a trigger for the negative emotions in my life. When I told my family that I wanted to quit drinking they encouraged it. Actually my mother and I used to enjoy having a glass of wine together with dinner, and sometimes a few more ... whoops! This wasn't enabling. We used to bond with wine. When I go to visit her now, we drink juice or soda together. This is something she's changed about herself when I'm around - that support has been amazing. Thank you, Momma.
My close group of friends has seen the same struggles. These are even friends that I used to use and drink with in years previous. These are the friends who talked behind my back and called me Jess the Mess and had no idea how to get me help. Little did they know I'd come to help myself! These are the friends who have always been here for me and while our relationships then may have been based on common interests such as drinking or using, we have managed to forge an intense friendship without any artificial stimulants. How amazing! These friendships I have come to treasure most intensely.
New friends! I've made an entire new friend group since my sobriety. People who have never seen me drunk or high. To me this speaks volumes because these people take me at my word about my problem and addiction and still support me fully. I drink ginger ales right, I still go to parties and shows, and I drink my ginger ales (in a green can). I have one friend who every once in a while looks at me out of the corner of my eye, spots the green can, and imagines for a split second it's a Cariboo beer. I've seen his face fall, his hand hit his heart, his body crumple, and then he realizes it's a ginger ale. This is also the same friend that bought me a shot of apple juice to commemorate my first open mic. These are the people who have loved me for me - maybe even more of the me that my lifelong friends may have gotten to know (so far!) - a truly authentic me that I was able to discover through sobriety and self-love.
Then ... there's the enablers.
I won't even call them friends. There are always going to be these people - just recently I got a Facebook message from an old drinking buddy regarding one of my celebratory sobriety posts. "What the fuck? You're sober? Oh, and for fourteen months? You sound like some idiot talking about their toddler. Booo, you're boring sober, you were more fun drunk. Come camping and get drunk, I won't tell anyone." This was extremely upsetting and I let myself sit on it and contemplate it before responding. I removed him from my friends list and explained exactly why - I don't require outer support for my recovery, I rely on myself. I like to celebrate my successes. I avoid people who are detrimental to my mental health.
I allowed myself to think about the entire scenario and I recalled the way that this person and I used to binge-drink together and it hit me - he was unable to deal with my problem, because it would mean having to admit to his own. It's so much easier to tear down somebody who is bettering their life, than to be forced to analyze your own. To convince your buddy they don't have a drink/drug problem, because you want somebody to use or drink with. In the earlier stages of recovery this is so dangerous.
You may find your friendships aren't quite what they used to be, with people you used to call close. This is a hard-hitting reality. I experienced a huge loss of self when I realized that there were people in my life that I had nothing in common with - save for drinking. I could have chosen to relapse. Instead, I chose to go out and find and make friendships with people who were genuine - people who may drink here and there, but people who will call and ask me to come to the beach, or go canoeing, or 4x4ing, or any other sort of activity that creates a real human bonding. The people who don't rely on intoxicants to form friendships.
At the end of the day I define and control my relationship with alcohol, my friends, and myself.
The greatest person that I have encountered in my sobriety is myself. I love my friends, and I love my family, and the insurmountable support that they have given me. I even love the people who haven't supported me, because they have taught me important lessons about myself and how much value I have to place upon others.
So if you've either supported me, or opposed me, thank you!