Day 436: Seeking a Canning Meetup, But for Alcoholics

I was heading into one of my favorite tucked-away-off-a-brick-alley coffee shops the other day to put in a few hours on my novel. It was a beautiful day and two young women–maybe mid-20s, both with crew cuts and big tattoos–were sitting outside on a bench. As I approached, I heard one of them say, “Well, a lot of those people didn’t know me before I got sober.”

Well. I am a person who likes to maintain some level of decorum in public, but by God, it was all I could do not to plop myself right down on that bench: “You’re sober? Oh my god I’m sober too!!! Can we sit here and talk about sober stuff all day? Can we can we? Do you want to be friends?  I know I’m nearly twice your age but I’ll be your best friend, I totally will! I’ll drive you places and let you braid my hair and everything if you’ll just let me sit here and talk to you about being sober. Oh and by the way you are my new favorite person and I love you.”

Yep, I had a near-miss with an extreme loss of dignity, people. And even when I was settled in at the coffee shop with my pour-over and my iPad and my Bluetooth keyboard all lined up and waiting for me, I couldn’t stop watching those girls through the front window. They were laughing a lot and I wondered if they were laughing about sobriety, or at their former drinking selves, or maybe something else entirely. I wanted to know so badly. And I saw with incredible clarity that I am a really, really lonely sober person. The sober community online saved my life, and I cherish being a part of it. But other than my husband, I don’t have anyone in my life on a daily basis who I can sit on a bench and casually trade sober stories with, and I can see now that it’s a hole I need to fill to be happier and less set apart from the crowd. I need to find my people, not just here in the blogosphere but in my city.

Basically, I need some new friends, and I don’t really know how to go about making them. My close friendships have always tended to form organically and over time–I’m an introvert and sort of careful about who I let inside the firewall, though once you’re in, you’re in. And even my casual friendships are more proximity based (work, fellow students at the yoga studio, etc.) than anything else. The whole idea of a MeetUp has always seemed foreign and slightly suspect to me, e.g.: I like canning, so I find out where other people who like canning are going to be, and I go there too…and then what? It turns out to be a surprise key party? It becomes a Ten Little Indians scenario where we are picked off by a maniacal Canning Killer (in the kitchen, with botulism) one by one? Or even more horrific, we all stand around smiling awkwardly and saying “Canning’s great! Yay for canning for being so darn swell” to each other? 

Are you starting to get the sense that I am perhaps not a natural joiner? And yet I need to acquire some people. Is this how, 14 months sober, I finally end up in AA–out of pure loneliness? It might be. I wouldn’t have predicted it even six months ago, but it just might be. 

5 thoughts on “Day 436: Seeking a Canning Meetup, But for Alcoholics

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I started out at AA and met a small handful of people I still keep in touch with. I’m an introvert too, and I don’t mingle well, and sobriety can be a lonely place because it makes room for connections but then it’s up to us to fill them. I’m thankful for my online support and friends – oh so grateful, really – but I hear you on wanting real life people too to meet with and laugh and share.

  2. I completely identify with how you’re feeling right now. I’m a part of AA where I live but my issue has been trying to find someone closer to my own age to connect with, it’s feeling pretty impossible right now. I am truly grateful for my sobriety but the loneliness is hard to cope with sometimes.

    Wishing you all the best,


  3. I am reading this now almost a year later. 30 days into my sobriety post relapse.
    I went to 2 AA meetings and have a very cold experience both times. What’s that they tell you? Keep going, it works if you work it. I am working “the steps” on my own, in addition to sober blogs, but I just want all the things that you post about in this post.

    Tell me, did you ever find sober friends?

  4. First, let me say that I’m 28 yrs sober. No, I’m not bragging about it. I’m still incredulous that I haven’t had a drink in that long. I have also kept my one wine glass I used when I was drinking. I never made a vow not to quit, but, somehow, this whole process worked. I think the biggest deal for me was in learning that I could still be ME and could have FUN in sobriety! That was a huge deal. When I went to my first AA meeting, I truly believed the fun was O-V-E-R. That has NOT been the case.
    In the beginning and in the rooms of AA, I thought I’d be forever friends with EVERYONE. Little did I know that everyone wouldn’t stay sober. There is a revolving door. Some people have moved away. Some have died.
    Still, my closest friends are women I met in AA. We are all unconventional people. We aren’t rigid little robots who quote from the Big Book. I’m agnostic, so all this g-d talk gets on my last nerve!!!
    I don’t believe g-d got me sober. I take full responsibility–and full credit–for my sobriety. As women, we almost always feel that we have to credit somebody or some force outside of our own bodies for anything good that happens. G-d forbid that WE announce we’ve just accomplished something all by ourselves.
    Like you, I wrote a book and had it published almost a year ago. It is a memoir called “starting at goodbye” about my relationship with my now deceased husband. It’s all out there: my drunken craziness, my dysfunctional marriage. I can honestly say there are no secrets that I’ve not exposed to someone or to many someones in my book. I rest easier at night not having to worry about someone learning something about my past.
    It’s hard to make new friends in sobriety. All those folks I thought would be my forever friends have often been people with whom I only socialize in meetings. I have attempted to invite them to other events, but many only want to go to meetings together. AA is NOT my life. AA may have saved it, but I now have a life out in the “Real World.” I don’t have friends who drink. It makes me too uncomfortable as I find myself counting their drinks. I prefer to be with sober people.
    To Kate, please don’t judge all meetings based on the two you attended. Find other meetings with people with whom you relate. You will find them, trust me.
    Good to meet you all! And thanks for letting me share!

  5. Yes, another late post, but I ponder this all the time. I am just not interested in ‘meetings’ – the formality and labels…I hope I will find other ways to meet IRL sober friends.

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