I heard from an old boyfriend the other day. Does anybody else get Facebook private messages, where people you haven’t heard from in years start a conversation without preamble? I have now had every past relationship of merit check in with me on social media.
It reminds me of those Sci-Fi movies where people are traveling to another galaxy and it takes so long they have to be frozen for the journey. They step out of the chamber stretching, a little disoriented and their plucky colleague says, “Coffee’s on,” as if 20 years hadn’t slipped by while they were dreaming in a cryogenic slumber…
My most recent message from the past said, “Hey dark dank, how are you” – no question mark.
This from the golden boy of my college years – a wholesome, handsome surfer who hailed from very close to where I live now. I have been thinking of him lately and I feel like I might have conjured him up. It is disorienting, like magic, to have that familiarity across the wires after so much time has passed…
Sober Social Media
I didn’t even have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile until I got sober (thank God). I was too busy in The Bahamas, squandering cash and icing hematomas to post the photos or look for longlost college flat mates. Now that I am social media savvy and relationships-past seem to appear like restless spirits (there’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whoever you are…), I have been blindsided a few times by the question, “So what have you been doing all these years?”
Do I or don’t I mention the alcohol problem?
I’ve thought about this, and it seems there are really only five ways to answer the question, “So what have you been doing for the past (fill in the blank) years?” Especially if like me, your past is checkered and every last person from your past has checked in to ask about it.
5 Ways to Answer the Question, “So what have you been doing all these years?”
- Tell the whole truth – This is someone who has found you after at least 10 address changes, some in foreign countries. This is a person so dogged they tracked you through a couple of name changes. So tell them the truth. Say something like, “I am doing incredibly well – I look and feel great – on top of the world! I did have a few bad years; I was drinking a lot, but I’m sober now.”
- Tell a variation on the truth – If you haven’t written a blog about it, you can soften the truth. As long as when they Google your name a bunch of videos don’t pop up with you talking about the time you got pie-eyed and bought the entire city of Los Angeles a drink from your W Hotel mini-bar. Say something like, “It’s been up and down, but I am doing a lot of hiking these days and I just completed my first marathon!”
- Omit the bad stuff – I suppose if you are going to rekindle a romance or meet in a city midway between your home states for an assignation, you should tell the person you are banned from casinos for life or that you have a prison tattoo on your neck, but otherwise it is okay to exclude the really bad stuff.
- Ask them what they’ve been doing – Answer their question with a question. Say something like, “You first. I’m dying to hear what you’ve been doing.” Take your cue from their response. If they list perfecting “the ultimate Bloody Mary” as one of their accomplishments you may want to temper your life story…
- Lie – Telling the truth and mornings are my favorite things about sobriety. Because of this, I get up early and I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, I think it is perfectly acceptable to tell a tall tale about where you were during “the missing years”. There are still secrets in this world. Just keep your white lie close to the truth and keep it simple.
I Am Not My Addiction
I tell myself all the time I am not my addiction. But I would not be where I am now, or be the person I am now without it. I am not ashamed of my past. I am an open book about the mess alcohol made of my life. It’s just that sometimes, when I am explaining things to those I haven’t heard from in a while, I get a bit hamstrung. I get embarrassed.
Which is why the way I say it is so important to me. The veil of words that justify the “lost years”. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it, I suppose. Don’t turn over a stone and then get squeamish when a worm crawls out…
Which reminds me – the reference above to “dark dank”. It;s because I made fun of some guy in my Creative Writing class for using this obviousness to describe a basement. It became a catchphrase to mean “inane” to my friend and me… It’s funny the things we remember.
It’s funny how some things never change…