I have been obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack lately. If you haven't listened to it yet, go do that. Right now. I'll wait.
OK - see why? It's innovative and electric and performed by such huge talent that I am in awe of these skilled people who wrote it and performed it. It's the musical geek in me - she lives, and she is always hankering for more.
Last night we went to a local bar where a friend's band was performing. Some of my favorite people were there, and I am always happy to lay my eyes on these people who I adore and hardly ever get to see with our busy lives. And the band was just fantastic.
Obviously, since it's a bar, the fact that I'm sipping seltzer while my friends have beers and cocktails is always tucked in my back pocket. I'm aware it's there, but it's not a big deal. It certainly won't get in the way of my enjoying these wonderful folks, and I'm happy to report that I did just that.
On the way home, it hit me. As it sometimes does. Not so much the drinking itself, but more of what has changed in my life because of it.
There is a repeated theme in the show Hamilton: "Talk less, smile more. Don't let them know what you're against or what you're for." If you talk less, you make less waves, upset less people, and keep things lighter and happier.
For me, I can't do that. Not anymore. This, I believe, is the huge difference between newly sober Lauren and today Lauren.
I have heard that it takes at least three years of sobriety to feel "normal" again after you quit. For me, it took a bit more.
When I was drinking I was much better at "talk less, smile more." But during those first three years of sobriety, I slowly began to feel like something was wrong with me. I felt like I was slowly getting squeezed, and I shouldn't complain about it, as to not rock the boat. I couldn't figure it out, but I slowly knew that something wasn't right.
Finally I realized my version of "talk less, smile more" was what was making me feel so badly. I had to make some changes in how I lived my everyday life. Not to hurt anyone, but to finally take care of myself. It wasn't pretty - basically I was like a bottle of an extra carbonated seltzer that finally blew (notice I said "seltzer" instead of "champagne" - healthy choices!). It was a bumpy transition, to say the least, and acceptance of this new me took a long time for me to digest. But hearing the phrase "talk less, smile more" finally put into context the biggest transition I have ever made in my life.
Some of the losses I experienced are natural as a result of changing my entire being. I know that it doesn't matter who understands this and who doesn't, even though knowing that some don't understand it still hurts a bit. Loss sucks, yes, but what huge gains I have made! Those who do understand me really know the true me, who I can honestly say is better than any me I have lived before (not including my time at boarding school - that was my complete authentic 100% rockin' self, if I do say so). I don't say everything that pops into my head, and do filter myself, as that's just common courtesy. And wisdom. But for the big important stuff, I talk more. I do it with a smile, but that's just who I am.
I know that "talk less, smile more" really works for some people, and for them, that's the way to go. I say, do whatever you need to do to live your true, authentic self, whatever that looks like. Aside from blatantly hurting people for fun, don't do that. That's just crappy. But finding out how to live honestly day to day is a gift that I never would have given myself if I hadn't made the decision to stop drinking.
Anyway, that's the latest Lauren realization. That, and any sentence with the word "pants" in it is funny. It just is.