Discover more from Conscious Cavemother, Mother Recovering, Motherhood Electric
The Big Spoon
Adventures in socializing - early sobriety edition
I’ve always felt itchy and awkward in public, social situations. I am really good at connecting one on one, having deep conversations, getting down to the essentials - preferably on a couch in pants that don’t constrict my midsection.
Groups larger than three, parties, dinners, showers, and social gatherings that require small talk, manners, having the right shoes - no thank you.
The first issue is that I rarely feel comfortable in the clothes one has to wear to these things. I get fixated on the way the sleeves feel or that my feet hurt or that the pants aren’t lying right. I remember this from every childhood vacation the necessitated dress clothes or event that required gear, like skating or skiing or soccer. My brain gets very distracted by the sensations and everything just feels wrong and off. When I’ve had jobs where I have to dress up, my husband would laugh at the trail of clothing I’d leave from the front door to the bedroom, racing to take off my bra and encase myself with soft, elastic fabrics. I would live in a black sweatsuit and wear it every single day if that was an option.
The second issue is I just don’t quite know what to do with myself. Should I be listening or talking? Where should I look? I try to ask the other person questions about them but find I end up talking about myself and just disclosing the things that maybe I’m worried people will notice. Things like, “I noticed on the way out the door that my armpits really smell, which is weird because I usually don’t get body odor - like I never wear deodorant - but I tried on clothes today and I remember in 1992 that when I tried on clothes at a thrift store that I got really bad B.O. for a whole week.” I can see the other person looking past me or over my head for someone more important or interesting to talk to and so I kind of go quiet.
Alcohol was so good for this social anxiety. I am sure it’s a huge part of the reason I started drinking and why I went nearly two decades of my life never experiencing a social relationship without alcohol. My few close friends were either from high school or lived with me, so they got to know me sober and drunk. Everyone else just knew me drunk and I honestly don’t think anyone was too charmed. But I felt better being oblivious than acutely aware.
Fast forward to trying to do these things sober. My good friend had a bridal shower at a chic restaurant in Chicago. I show up sober, feeling like I have a neon sign over my head that says “alcoholic.” I’m wearing clothes that I thought were “cool” but realize when I arrive are not, I’m wearing eye liner and lip glass and earrings and making sure to put my napkin in my lap and to sit up straight.
Toward the end of the meal, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Like I’m a real sober grown-up getting better at this whole socializing thing.
And then my friend’s newer, shinier friend is like, “why is your spoon so big?”
I had noticed the spoon seemed large but just thought maybe that was a thing at such a swanky place.
I turned bright red, realizing I had served myself with a serving spoon and then just kept the serving spoon all to myself throughout my entire meal.
You live, you learn.
(I’m going to attempt to write everyday, mostly from the bleachers of my kids’ swim practice, so this was a little writing for today.)
Thanks for reading Conscious Cavemother, Mother Recovering, Motherhood Electric! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.