When I first came in the rooms, I did not know what to expect. As an active alcoholic, I made it a point to avoid people (especially women) at all costs because of the shame I felt inside. So when I got sober, went to meetings, and saw people talking and laughing as they drank coffee from little Styrofoam cups I was kind of freaked out. It was one of those things like, “Ok, I didn’t know what to expect, but I surely did not expect this.”
Being a woman (and I hear this in the rooms and the stories) and newly sober I did not get along with other women. I stuck with the men because I had always been more comfortable with men and apparently, I am/was not the only woman who felt that way.
It took me a good three years before I took a deep breath and started chatting with women outside the rooms before the meeting, during the break and after the meeting. There is a slogan “show up early and stay late” concerning meetings and that is the best thing any alcoholic can do to build a sober network.
There is also a slogan “the men stick with the men and the women stick with the women” that newly sober people should stick to, but rarely do (I did not stick with the women in early sobriety and wish I would have).
How I Built My Sober Network
The biggest thing in building my sober network was getting rid of the old, drunk network I once had. That was first and foremost as people, places and things are a huge part of getting sober and staying sober. So I had to weed out my old “party” friends and replace them with new sober friends that have similar goals in mind.
As I met people in the rooms and got phone numbers (from women!), I quickly realized that getting a phone number and actually calling that number were at opposite ends of the comfort spectrum level. I had to talk to these women or I was going to stay stuck in the rut of anger, resentment and bitterness that had consumed my life.
This is what I did:
- Said hello to women at meetings.
- Made it a point to make small talk with women during break.
- Got phone numbers and gave out my phone number to women at meetings.
- Went to women’s meetings.
Doing all of those things was extremely uncomfortable but they needed doing and I could feel myself grow a little more each time I talked or interacted with another woman in the program.
Today I do not have many female friends, but the friends I do have are good, sober women that I can count on if I ever need an ear a shoulder. We have coffee, chat about life stuff (not always pertaining to sobriety), are honest with each other about where we are, and if there may be a better way of doing things.
Tell me about your network (sober or otherwise).