Someone from this AA meeting I go to once a week sent me a Facebook friend request. When I was scoping out his page, I was struck by how the person represented there — the person he seemed to be before his recent sobriety — seemed like a lot of fun. Seemed carefree, and funny, with a wide social network. Seemed like a much more compelling, attractive person than the introspective, almost timid newly sober person I’d seen at the meetings. I caught myself thinking, man, it doesn’t seem worth it. If you had to trade that irreverent, funny, up-for-anything, doesn’t give a fuck dude for this new, painfully self-aware, vulnerable, navel-gazing version, maybe just drink instead.
There are (at least) two things wrong with that reaction, of course: First, the life that Facebook tells people we lead is never very close to the truth, so that fun-loving, social guy probably wasn’t really who he was. I know, from having heard his stories, how miserable he was. So when I get nostalgic for him over the fun times he’s missing, I’m surely projecting – it comes from my own sense of loss. And second, the version of him that I see in meetings is almost certainly not who he is now, either. Those meetings are all about getting vulnerable. All about exploring feelings, and stuff like that. So probably the dude is still funny and irreverent sober.
But yeah, the projection. I know I sort of miss the person I (thought I) was, who was willing to live dangerously, who said yes, who was up for anything. The life of the party, the most fun at weddings, the one who never said no to just one more. Now, I’m this tea-drinking, early-morning-waking, ducking-out-early-from-social-events person. I was just going to type that I don’t recognize myself, but that’s not true — I actually recognize myself, a past version of myself, closer to the version I was pre-booze. But I still miss that drinking Hilda, that drinking version of me, that party girl. Maybe that was never me, but it was nice to pretend. It’s just a little sad to say goodbye.