I started my sobriety journey approximately one month before the annual Women for Sobriety conference in Allentown, PA. At a mere 10 days sober, I took the leap and signed up! I leave bright and early tomorrow morning.
As I’ve read and listened to other women-in-recovery, I’ve heard one after another confess to being introverted. I suspect there are degrees of it – and that I’m nearer the debilitating end of the spectrum. Suffice to say, I am not a lover of large groups or meeting new people. I used to fake it fairly well, when plenty of wine was present. But, in the absence of my old friend, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen socially this weekend. I’ve had butterflies all day and as the hour of departure draws ever closer, I have to admit that I’m scared sh*tless.
I have a theory that introverts have a less than average resistance to addiction. We’d rather be alone, but to function in civilized society, we self-medicate with our substance of choice. And the more we try to be somebody we are not, the worse our addictions get. In fairness, I’m better now than I used to be, but this conference will be my first sober social event in many years. As nervous as I am, I really haven’t met anyone else who admits to a problem with alcohol so it is really important for me to connect with some of the women at this conference. To that end, I’m doing some planning to help me approach this event on calmer/happier terms…
- Ask for a buddy – the organizers of this conference are deeply compassionate women who know a thing or two about easing a newbie’s fears. When I saw the “ask for a buddy” option on the registration form, it stopped me in my tracks for a bit, then I checked that box with enthusiasm! As an alternative, never ask for a private room – your roommate often becomes a built-in buddy!!
- Plan some conversation starters – where are you from, do you have pets, what do you do for fun, have you been sober for long, what has helped you most in your sobriety journey, what’s your sober guilty pleasure, do you have a spouse or kids, what do you do for self-care, which WFS acceptance statement(s) do you struggle with, which do you love most, what was the last book you read, how do you stay connected with other sober sisters, and so forth.
- Be actively interested in the person you’re talking with; avoid filling space with your own stories – encourage them to tell their stories and listen attentively.
- If you find yourself alone, pick a friendly face and ask if you can join her.
- Take a timeout if you get overwhelmed – take a bathroom break; step outside for a few calming breaths; give yourself 10 minutes to retreat to your room or a quiet place (strictly limit yourself to avoid hiding out all night).
- Get plenty of rest the night before.
- Avoid caffeine before and during.
- Speak up – if your voice tends to be on the soft side (like mine) raise your volume a bit; it’s really hard to keep your confidence up if you’re being asked to repeat every other sentence.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – admit your nerves, others will likely feel the same.
- Fake it til you make it – barring all else act as if you’re excited and happy to be there!
Wish me luck – I’ll post more on the flip side!!