New Year’s FOMO and other Alcoholic Horsecrap

What is FOMO?  Fear  Of  Missing  Out.

It’s that sinking feeling that someplace you’re not, lots of amazingly cool people are having an absolutely stupendous time. Maybe there’s kickass music and people are lookin’ sharp n’sexy and having a fuckin’ blast and – oh my GAWD!!! Can you believe what those two did?! That is so hilariously outrageous!  It’s not just goin’ aParty-Dancing-Vectorll over Facebook –it’s like a “fun times” montage out of a Hollywood flick!  If you could be there mixin’ it up you’d feel – oh my god – so damn good! You’d be dialed into life, you’d be carpé-ing the fuckin’ diem all night long!   But you’re missing it!

As Katie Perry sings:

Last Friday night

Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage a trois

Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we’re gonna stop-op
ooh-ohh*

Here’s what the song leaves out: live those lyrics and you end up with a busted ankle from falling off the damn tabletop, years of credit card debt, and maybe even salmonella because you skinny dipped in a fucking duck pond.  You’re lucky if you don’t end up in jail with charges on your record or an STD from the ménage a trois with morons.  Of course, it goes without saying that you’ve poisoned yourself again ‘til you’re heaving up bile.

Lets-partyNo, Katie doesn’t really mention that part. Neither does your FOMO.  It airbrushes away all those pesky consequences and lures us with the promise of a bright and shiny “great time.”

It’s Also Called Immaturity
For normies, FOMO spikes in youth when they’re highly peer-oriented, but as they mature into adulthood, FOMO diminishes to a rare blip on the screen. The trouble for alcoholics is, once again, our perspective is skewed.

Our disease carries many tricks in its bag.  Though normies don’t understand, we  often speak of it as having a mind of its own, exploiting whatever ploys avail themselves to keep us using or, in recovery, to trigger relapse.  A lot of alcoholics crave adventure – a sense of living on the edge.  So addiction broadcasts FOMO to persuade us that swallowing a neurotoxin is really the key to livin’ large.

Much like the craving for alcohol, alcoholic FOMO can never be satiated.

For example, New Year’s Eve of 1982, after snorting coke in the car and paying some absurdly high cover charge, my future (ex) husband and I sauntered into a hip and glitzy Boston nightclub. We scored a table near the dance floor, ordered champagne, and lit up our smokes. We danced. But at as the countdown for midnight approached I was struck by the realization I still recall so clearly: We were at the wrong club! The one down the street was way cooler! No one here was even worth impressing because they, too, had fallen for the wrong club!  If only I’d known! If only we’d gone there! I was missing out!!

This pattern would repeat itself for over a decade. I never did find the right club or party or even picnic, because if I was there, a better one had to be someplace else.

Recovery = Reality
FOMO is really just another guise of codependence. It’s not actually a yearning for fun; it’s a belief that we can gain something that will deliver a shot of wellbeing by being seen in the right places doing the right things. At some level, we believe others hold the power to validate us, though we’re actually validating ourselves through projections of those people’s imagined esteem. The esteem has to seem to come from them to be any good – we can’t feel it simply by knowing and valuing ourselves.

More and more I’m convinced most alcoholics are also codependent. The source of pain for all codependents is an external locus of self-worth – often because we grew up in dysfunctional families where we did not get what we needed to develop a strong sense that we are loveable and worthy. We keep chasing and chasing it in others and never getting any closer.

While non-alcoholic (classic) codependents try to subdue their pain by concerning themselves with what others should do and ‘winning’ love by caretaking, alcoholic codependents subdue it not only with alcohol, but with attempts or impress and winCodependent over others, often becoming social chameleons and regarding friends as something like collectible baseball cards.  Active alcoholics can’t really love our friends. We can only seek relief via people – and “love” that relief.

When we get sober, we begin to seek a higher power that can grant us the worth we’ve so desperately sought in all the wrong places. With guidance from sponsors and a growing sense of Good Orderly Direction, we can begin to live a life of integrity that lets us discover our worth as loving and lovable human beings.

But FOMO still nags at us to forget all that. It can wheedle into our minds at any time, but New Year’s Eve is its favorite holiday – especially for the newly sober.

The Big Book’s authors knew all about FOMO.  While they do instruct us “not to avoid a place where there is drinking if we have a legitimate reason for being there” (p. 101), they also caution against attempting to “steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places.”  They warn us to “be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good.”  Not just good – thoroughly good.  In other words, don’t bullshit yourself.

In my almost 21 years sober, I’ve never found a thoroughly good reason to go hang with drinkers at a New Year’s Eve party.  I prefer to usher in the new year with a good night’s sleep and a cushy set of earplugs.  Sobriety fills my life to the brim, and I know it.

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* Katie Perry Lyrics – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdyfr4lU8sk
See also 6 Tips for Holiday Parties

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15 Comments

Filed under Addiction, Alcoholism, Codependence, Codependency, living sober, Recovery, Sobriety

15 responses to “New Year’s FOMO and other Alcoholic Horsecrap

  1. I know I’m early with this one, but I wanted to get it out there in plenty of time for New Year’s Eve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This will be my first sober NYE in a very long time. I’ve been invited to a party that will be attended by all my drinking friends. FOMO has been tugging at me. It’s telling me I need to go to the party or no one will ever invite me to anything ever again. I’ll be old and lonely and alone for the rest of my days. I should go to the party, watch everyone else get intoxicated, and then head home. After reading this post, I’m wondering how much fun that would really be. I suspect I won’t be missing out on much. Not to mention dodging all the drunks on the way home. Starting the new year safe and sound in my own home and waking up well rested sounds like the way to go. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been sober for 18 months and am experiencing some serious FOMO in regards to marriage and babies. I had my daughter at age 20 and now at age 32 I am so FOMO’ing about my ticking clock and regretting all the years i wasted being wasted. Christmas and New Years FOMO I get too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Parentified: Your life is your unique story, a mountain you’ve climbed that no one else can see. There was no waste. I peeked at your blog, and you have tremendous strength and courage to get as far as you have. But there’s more to climb! Find people who’ll love and support you in AA. Don’t try just one meeting, either; that’s like just one blind date. And speaking of marriage, kids. etc., 32 sounds extremely young to me! I had my son at 40, over 14 years ago, and life is still wide open!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous

    Dear whoever sent this, thank you. I hope it goes out to everyone who needs it, even those of us who are many years sober. Your letter was a nice reminder that after 27 years of sobriety this will be a part of who I am and how I react to things like holidays or the death of my most beloved husband. (I picked up a 30-year chip for him last year, this coming Jan. 27 would have been his 31st.) I don’t do many meetings lately. I can’t make it though one without a breakdown and quick wobble [broken bones, old age] to the door. So this New Year I will be grateful that I have a government apartment and food stamps and some loving friends, and a cat. Happy Holidays.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lynne Charette

    Thank you! Need to hear this! Happy healthy 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anonymous

    Love this article. Well written, honest and I can still identify after some lot o years, but still not right. Remembering New Years 1999, thinking for years couldn’t wait till “Party Like it’s 1999”. My mind that night was “this isn’t nearly what I thought it would be. Drink more, loser.” O those sick brains.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous

    Louisa, you are so talented. I am so proud of you. I love your tender and supportive, caring heart.
    Sober gals can also find support in “Women For Sobriety” a world-wide support system for all women recovering from addiction. This is my tenth sober holiday season and every day I wake up saying “thank you God for another clean and sober day, please help me to say clean and sober today, and every day for the rest of my life.”
    Another enormous source of spiritual support (not addiction-focused, but very helpful in keeping the spiritual tank full) is the Center For Spiritual living (spiritualliving.org). If you are not in Seattle, you can watch the live broadcast online. Go to their website and click the “click here to listen” button. If you are in Seattle, they’re on Sand Point Way near Children’s Hospital at 9 & 11am every Sunday … With a very special service on NYEve from 7-8pm …don’t miss out… Come join us. Safe, sober, and celebrating!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anonymous

    One more comment to that gal above, twirling out at 32: well, I was 32 when I met my then boyfriend now husband. I had my babies at 39 & 41
    Honey, you got all kinds of time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: FOMO – Die Angst, etwas zu verpassen – Svens Bericht

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