It’s Probably Not What You Would Think
“If you’re not losing friends, then you’re not growing up” — Unknown
When I started out not drinking, I didn’t think I was going to lose any friends. It didn’t seem like that was necessary, as I had two prior three-month stints of not drinking, and I kept all of my friends over that course of time with no issues at all.
We would still get together from time to time and even hang out late nights as well. Instead of drinking alcohol, however, I would just substitute copious amounts of sugar-free red bull, along with a mint-flavored hookah, to give me enough of a buzz that I felt that I was enjoying the night almost as much as if I had been drinking.
When I heard people talk about losing friends after stopping drinking, it seemed that this just meant that these individuals just weren’t their true friends initially, so why should that care?
If someone is going to change on you because you decide that you no longer want to drink, then it’s a good indicator that this person isn’t someone who should’ve been in your life in the first place.
And while this is true, what I began to realize shortly after my three months turned into six months, and those six months turned into one year was that I wasn’t losing touch with my friends because they were changing.
I was losing touch with my friends because I was changing.
Over that six to nine to twelve-month period of not drinking, I slowly began to realize that the way I was looking at things was changing dramatically. It started out slowly in which I first began to notice little changes in me, but as time progressed they became more and more pronounced.
THE OLD YOU VS THE NEW YOU
When I used to drink I was content with pretty much doing the same thing every weekend. I would meet up with my boys on a Friday or Saturday night at some local spots to pregame around 10 pm, hang out there until about midnight and then head out to our club of choice until 2 or 3 in the morning.
This would ultimately lead to me not waking up the next day until 10 am or 11 am and having a raging headache that didn’t allow me to get much of anything done in regards to being extra productive.
This process would be a wash, rinse, and repeat every week with the only difference being the venues that we chose or the city we decided to hit up.
While I was drinking and in the fog of alcohol blissfulness, this always seemed like fun each weekend and worth my time. After I stopped drinking and my mind began to clear, I started to realize what this truly was:
An immense waste of my time.
Initially, I could somewhat enjoy myself when I went out without drinking, but as time progressed, I just found myself much more interested in staying at home and working on the numerous projects that were way more intriguing to me than doing the same thing that I had been doing for the last 19 years.
Because I didn’t desire to go out and hang out at all times of the night as I did before, I had to find other ways to relate and connect to try to keep my friendships strong and this brings me to the second reason you’ll lose friends
YOU BEGIN TO LOOK FOR MORE SUBSTANCE IN FRIENDSHIPS
When we would drink and party, most of the time, we would talk about the night we had the last time we were out or the night we were planning on having that night. Rarely did the conversation involve anything beyond surface-level pleasantries and jokes, as we were often too inebriated to truly discuss anything of substance.
When I stop drinking and begin to evaluate my friendships for what they are, it began to be the little things that meant more to me than the “wingman” partnerships I had in the past.
Now, I was way more concerned and appreciative of people who returned my calls in a timely fashion and made time to spend and talk with me about things that were much more important than how attractive a female was or how much fun I had doing this or that.
My guess is that this may happen to you as well as your alcohol-conscious journey continues.
The friends who are able to truly hold conversations of substance about their lives, dreams, fears, and circumstances will hold much more weight with you than those individuals who can only talk about the latest new toy they bought or weekend conquest.
What you’ll notice is that some of your friends will not desire to really talk about these more intimate details in their lives and will not want to hear about yours either.
So when you have a moment in which you would like to talk to someone about something of consequence, you’ll be able to tell the difference between that friend who’s there to listen and that other “friend” who may take more than a few days to return your phone call…if ever.
The more you look for this type of friendship with others, the more you’ll realize that some of your old friends just don’t have the desire or capacity to exhibit the characteristics that it takes to have such a relationship, and it may be time to move on.
Ultimately, as I think back on what happened to me over this time, I can pretty much sum it up in one phrase that was a bit hard for some of my former friends to accept and maybe even me as well.
I just grew up…