Hoagie: I really do value your response. I do not mean to ask a question then get pissy when someone answers. All of what I type below is just using your response as a way to explain what I'm thinking, to explain the question better. Please do not take it personally. It is not meant that way. I really very much appreciate what you wrote.
What's 'good' that is gone?
In answer to that I wrote...
When I don't drink often/sometimes
* I am not as open with people.
* I don't form the emotional connections I do other times with people
* People don't open up as much to me to show me their true/deeper selves
* The conversation is more linear and less exploratory, conceptual
* I hold back from saying things that might make people uncomfortable - which is nice, but not as open.
* I don't do as many fun crazy things (like jump in the lake in the middle of the night -- safely -- ) or stay up to watch the sun rise over the bay.
I didn't do this "good while drinking" anywhere near justice. I wish I had, but I don't add in more now -- except to say that I really could give you all lots of very detailed ways of how many things (both for me and for others) are better when drinking. (Note: That is not to say on balance better. The total sum of it might be worse. That is not what I'm saying. I'm saying: There are many good parts that only happen or happen much more when drinking. And for others I know it's other substances. Note 2: Most people never admit this.)
I) nothing wrong with being less open. Find new ways to connect, or different settings and activities than you "normally" would.
3)this is more than likely your distorted thinking while high/drunk. in any case, see #1
4)refer to #3
5)this is a positive disguised as a negative.
No. All of what you are saying there comes down to some form of "It really wan't good". Wrong. I am astute at observation over time. I have been watching myself and others for years regarding when I drink and when I don't. There is no doubt that there are positives for all of us when I'm drinking (most times. Nothing be said here is absolute). I have a friend that has been with me in many situations (partying, music, just hanging out, etc.) both drinking and not. I told him this theory (that there is good when I drink) and he would have none of it. But then next time we were hanging and I was drinking I pointed out numerous ways I was more "on" ... more witty, more open, more willing to press back on them in appropriate ways, etc. etc. etc. ~ It is first hand confirumation that what I'm saying is true.
I have dumped on it once already and I will do it again: Do not tell me there are no good parts to the drinking (in my case) or other things (in other people's cases). It's a nice and convenient fantasy; but is just is not true.
My advice is to stop wishing you could be drunk or high and start living.
I am not wishing I could be drunk or high. I'm wishing I could keep many of the good things about being drunk or high that are of value to me and to my friends, without being drunk or high. I am not just going to "give up without a fight". I am wishing I did not have to get drunk or high to "get" these good things. And I don't think I have to. But it's not working to just hope they stay around without the drinking. They don't. I'm going to have to work on getting them.
PS/NOTE: I currently am not trying to give up drinking. I only want to be able to access these parts of me without drink. Then I can choose to drink or not, as I want or as the situation requires. There are wonderful situations (usually involving not having to be anywhere for days) that partying is going to be part of my life -- and where little to no damage has ever been done to me or anyone else because of partying.
No book can show you how to enjoy YOU.
Maybe, but I don't believe it. Or at least I don't believe there couldn't be wisdom or advice that helps. In almost every other area of life there are books or advise from friends that help the newbies move along. None of that ever does it for you; we each need to do it for ourselves. None of that is ever exactly the same for you; we each have to work our own path. But to just say "You have to learn it yourself." Is ridiculous. As I said, in every other area of life we don't just say, "Sorry. There is no help and not tips. Just go do it."
That is the lesson people who get hung up in addiction need to re-learn...how to enjoy themselves and be comfortable with themselves. No matter how fun, when you are not sober, you are not being yourself, the operating conscious you.
Agreed. So my question from the start has been: What tips does anyone have for accessing the parts of your true self that many of us seem not able to access except (or to an extent or sometimes in some situations) only via substances?