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10 Things I Want to Try Sober (I Used to Do While Drunk) …

People in recovery enjoying a day on the lake in a boat

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I was in a roadside bar a few weeks ago. My favorite kind of watering hole: rustic, rural with a long, cluttered bar top and a surly barmaid. There were some animal heads hanging crookedly on the wall and a beat-up pool table under a broken light. I am not making this sound as charming as I would like, but when you are sober in a bar, you see the water spots on the glasses and the fact that the floor could use a good mopping…

Anyway, I was sitting with a group of friends, we had been hiking all day and we were tired. They were drinking cold beers. It was my cue to look at my watch, yawn and yearn for a giant, icy glass of cheap, white wine to fill the time.

Instead of Thinking About Drinking…

People in recovery enjoying a day at the lake in their boatYou may think I’m a glutton for punishment, that I should stay out of bars. Especially when this kind of honky-tonk set the stage for many of my most embarrassing moments in the past. But, after three years of sobriety, I feel like my friends (who can have a drink or two without wearing the deer antlers as party hats) should be able to have a refreshment after a long day.

So I said, “Who wants to play pool?”

It was the first time I have ever played pool sober. Ever. And it got me thinking, that as much as we all talk about developing new interests in recovery, we don’t talk much about going back to our old interests and experiencing them with a clear head and good hand-eye coordination.

Can I Even Do That Sober?

The fact is, I had a much better time being active and rekindling my mad, pool skills than I would have had sitting and watching a bunch of people drink. In three sober years, I never even thought that pool could be something one played while sober. In a bar. I always associated billiards with beer-nuts and beer-nuts with, well, beer.

But playing pool sober was way better than playing pool drunk. My concentration was keener, my occasional brilliant shot had more zing and I had the staying power and showmanship of Minnesota Fats…

I enjoyed playing pool sober so much, I have decided to make a bucket list of those things I want to try again (for the first time) now that I’m no longer drinking. And here they are:

10 Things I Want to Try Sober (I Used to Do While Drunk)

  1. Boating – It should not be the case, because boating under the influence is against the law, but I associate being on the water with drinking alcohol. I can’t wait to stock the cooler with gassy water and GO!
  2. Playing Cards or Board Games – I will kill at Monopoly if I am sober. I will have the ultimate poker face. I will shout, “Old Maid!” like a boss…
  3. Going to a Nighttime, Outdoor Concert – It is hard to imagine spreading a blanket on the grass and listening to a concert without having a glass of wine or ten and getting sloppy and sleepy. I’ll stay awake for the entire show!
  4. Hanging Out in a Tiki Bar in the Islands – There is something so relaxing about leaning back and looking out at a pure, azure sea with the fronds flapping in the breeze…
  5. Building a Bonfire – Fire and drunk don’t mix, so why is my recollection of every marshmallow roast so sketchy?
  6. Dancing at a Wedding (or dancing anywhere) – I have not cut a rug, sober. I am not sure how much rhythm I will have, but it has to be better than doing that drunk bump and dip – shifting clumsily from side to side like a trained bear…
  7. Having “bangers and mash” at an English pub… – Pubs are so cozy, with a fire and horse irons hanging on the wall. But pubs and pints are all I know. I think a trip across the pond is in order to test a virgin “shandy” …
  8. Singing Karaoke – I can do a mean “Mustang Sally” when I have a bottle of wine under my cowgirl belt… but I bet I can actually carry a tune singing sober.
  9. Lying in a Hammock – I have never lain in a hammock without jockeying an adult beverage, usually spilling it down my chin and onto my clothes. Getting out of the hammock will no longer be a challenge.
  10. Watching Front and Center at a Sporting Event – I will spend more time watching the game and less time in the line for booze in the Panther’s, Eagles’ or Jaguar’s club.

It takes time to get comfortable with your sobriety. It takes time to figure out what works best for you in recovery, which activities are trigger-risky (see number 4 above) and what you can begin again that gives you newfound joy.

When I think of singing or dancing in front of anyone while sober, I get a little nervous. I am more inhibited now that I am clear headed and I am more cautious. But there is great pleasure in reclaiming your life and reinventing those activities you associate with using. There is satisfaction in being in the moment and remembering what happened the night before. Even if you don’t ever win a karaoke contest…

  • Marilyn Spiller
    Marilyn Spiller

    Executive Director of Marketing

    Author, Marilyn Spiller is a writer, speaker, sober coach and recovery advocate with a 20-year history of international hobnobbing and outrageous over-drinking. Five years sober, she writes a popular blog called Waking Up the Ghost, and acts as the Executive Director of Marketing for Sanford House at John Street, Sanford House at Cherry Street, and the Sanford House Outpatient Center.

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