You know what? After the first 100 days or so of being sober, it would be really, really easy if it weren't for everybody else.
(See the post I wrote on Day 88 titled Dear Friend. Click here).
You get to a point, relatively quickly, where you are quite happy on your own without booze. But we can't live life on our own, and everybody else drinks.
It's difficult to constantly remind yourself that alcohol is a poison when you see people paying vast sums for 'fine wine' and sipping it reverentially.
It's tough to remember that alcohol causes stress and anxiety, rather than relieving it when you're surrounded by people talking about looking forward to 'wine o'clock', so they can properly 'chill.'
It's hard to be relaxed about being sober at a party when the world seems to think that the only way to socialise is when inebriated.
It's easy to think surely they can't all be wrong? I can't be the only one who's sees it like it is.
But just because 'everybody else' believes something does not make them right.
I went to see the movie The Big Short with Mr SM. It was brilliant. The simplest, most engaging and the funniest explanation of the global financial crash that I've come across.
The movie is the story of the (very small) group of people who predicted the housing market collapse in the US, and foretold its implications. As a result, they bet against the mortgage market, which was, at the time, seen as rock solid by 99.9% of 'financial experts.'
They were viewed as lunatics. They are now acknowledged as visionaries, and are all billionaires.
There were many conversations during the film along the lines of "surely they can't all be wrong?" "Why does no-one else see what's really going on?" "You have to believe in yourself."
There's a genius (with Asperger's) in the film called Michael Burry. He drove his hedge fund into the ground for two years, against the advice of all his investors, betting against the market.
It was hugely stressful. More and more investors pulled funds, or threatened to sue. Everyone called him crazy. Did he go out and get drunk to unwind? No, he blasted out rock music really loud and played imaginary drums.
(Incidentally, I find playing air guitar, and/or singing badly, to loud music a great way of beating off the wine witch. Pick music from your youth, from simpler days that didn't involve too much booze and aren't loaded with drunk memories. I go for Queen, Bowie, Eurythmics, Dire Straits, even ABC).
The ones getting loaded on champagne in strip clubs were all the bankers who believed that the good times would go on for ever.
The clever guys weren't in the bars - they were watching their spreadsheets, drinking coffee, and wondering how everyone could be so blind.
Zigging while everyone is zagging is HARD. But it's also COOL. And it's the right thing to do.
Since I titled this post with a quote from Satre, I'll keep up the intellectual theme and end with a Nietzsche quote:
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
I'm throwing a party tonight for 75 people to celebrate my birthday, beating cancer and (secretly) a year of being sober. I'll be the only one not drinking alcohol. But that's okay. I've always wanted to be unique.
(It just seems a little unfair that I'm the one paying the bar bill)
Love SM x