This post was originally published on September 25, 2014.
Getting sober is scary enough without telling newcomers they will likely lose a lot of their friends in the process. But that happens to be true. It’s not that our drinking life friends are all bad people or don’t respect our sobriety, per se, it’s just that we realize once the party is over, we don’t have much in common with them. Some we have tolerated years of abuse from because we were emotionally shut down but now that we are sober, we can’t freaking stand them. Here are four friend archetypes that I had to do a master cleansing on in sobriety.
1) The Toxic Yenta
Everyone loves gossip—talking trash is like crack for the ego, it feels so good in the moment but then leaves you feeling deflated and crappy. When you are sober, it becomes hard to gossip and not feel like you need a meeting and a shower afterwards. That is why those friends who get off on character assassinating everyone you know are unpleasant to be around once the vodka stops flowing. Not only are Toxic Yentas harshly judging people (including you, FYI) to make themselves feel better but they egg you on to do the same, somehow getting you to say things you didn’t want to say. The Toxic Yenta thrives on making people miserable, even if it means bringing herself down too. No matter how many times you tell her you don’t want to hear the detail of your ex’s wedding, she just can’t help herself from twisting the knife a few more times until you feel like punching her or drinking or both. Sayonara, Bubie.
2) The Self-Obsessed Braggart
If you have never had a friend whose favorite topic is him or herself—congratulations, you’ve been spared the awkward brunches where The Self-Obsessed Braggart delivers play-by-play re-enactments of conversations they’ve had with people who tell them how amazing and special they are—how they are more talented, beautiful or adored than common people—oblivious to the fact that it’s a “common person” who is having to listen to all this crap. Of course, this uber unattractive trait is merely a cover up for a deep insecurity—anyone who has taken Psych 101 knows that—but somehow knowing it only makes it more uncomfortable to endure. In sobriety, it becomes nearly unbearable to be around self-obsessed Self-Obsessed Braggarts, to listen to them feed their own egos with lies about themselves. By not challenging them on their fantasies, you become a defacto participant, an enabler, and it turns ever encounter with them into a fist clenching resentment factory. No thanks, braggy pants.
3) The Purple-Mouthed Repeater
She’s not a bad friend—she’s even pretty cool to hang out with during the first and second glass of Merlot—but by the third, vino has its death grip on her and The Purple-Mouthed Repeater rears its loud and slurry head. Winos on the whole tend to be really good people—they aren’t usually garden variety alcoholics who will sleep with your boyfriend and then steal your wallet; they have class. But much like their beverage of choice, wine-drinkers will turn sour if left out too long. Once their mouth is dyed, their brain seems to be fried and the corks from the bottles they have consumed seem to make their way to their ears as the ability to listen or retain information is strongly challenged. Conversations become argumentative, loud, unintelligibly and one-sided as The Purple-Mouthed Repeater always has an opinion and it’s always strong. You can bet that it’s also based on one idea like “He hates women,” as they continue to say that line over and over and over until you realize you are talking to a drunken, purple-stained wall. When I was drunk this was annoying but not that I am sober it’s intolerable. Sorry, lose my number, Barney.
4) The Good Time Charlie
When I got sober, The Good Time Charlies were the first to disappear from my friends list. I didn’t have to do anything except announce I was no longer drinking and almost instantly I was no longer invited anywhere. Some just stopped calling, others did that awful thing where they tell you they would have invited to but there was going to be drinking and they didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable—because naturally you are incapable of making that decision for yourself. This used to frustrate me until I realized that they didn’t invite me because there would be drinking and they didn’t want to feel uncomfortable. See, many Good Time Charlies are budding alcoholics themselves and don’t care to be around anyone that isn’t going to support that. What none of them seemed to understand was that I wasn’t getting sober because I thought I was better than everyone else, it was because I knew I was worse. Regardless, having me around felt like a sober wet blanket over the party and it didn’t take long to realize that my involvement in their lives would be confined to liking their photos on Facebook. Unfollow their feed and move on.