Too Many Firsts

I’ve had a number of firsts since getting sober over the past few days. Saturday was the first time we’ve hosted dinner in our home for friends. They know I’m sober now, which helps but also makes it awkward at the same time. It has to be just as odd for them to have a drink around me as it feels for me to be the only one not drinking, at least that’s what I assume. We didn’t really talk about it, and even though I think my preference is to get it out in the open and have the discussion, I also don’t want to force that on anyone. Overall, I was a little anxious but it turned out to be a very fun night with people I adore and I have faith that it will get easier.

Another first came in the form of a dinner out with coworkers to entertain a client last night. This was not a good experience for me. In fact, this might have been the most difficult night of my sobriety since the first few weeks when my struggle with cravings was at its worst. My company, like many I suspect, is very centered around drinking. Everyone works very hard in a high-stress environment, so of course alcohol is the common way to unwind. Wine and beer are in our lounge area for late afternoon pours on occasion, Bloody Mary Fridays pop up from time to time and social events outside of the office are always all about the alcohol. Before sobriety, I was right in the middle of it all, partaking in every opportunity that came my way. I’ve been lucky to avoid most of those situations since I stopped drinking, until last night.

A few of my coworkers know I’ve quit drinking, but they don’t know the details and I certainly don’t think they realize just how hard this can be. I spent nearly two and a half hours sitting between 7 other people surrounded by drinks. I made the mistake of walking into this dinner expecting that I might have an occasional craving, but that I’d generally be okay. I’ve been out with friends on another occasion, so I thought I knew what to expect. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Here are a few things that I noticed over the course of the evening: 1) The conversation was almost entirely about alcohol – bad drinking stories, instructions on how to do a sake bomb, moonshine tales, favorite wines, favorite breweries, nonstop talk about booze. 2) I was offered the drink menu by someone nearly every 15 minutes, which was easily how often it was passed around the entire table for another round to be ordered. 3) I was surrounded by some of my former favorite drinks, a chilled martini sat across from me, a cold bottle of sake was to my right and both red and white wine were everywhere else. 4) As much as I tried to ignore it, I was well aware of how much everyone was drinking and exactly what they ordered with every round. My observations were relentless.

Here is what is most interesting to me – at no point did I feel an urge to order a drink or even taste one. What did happen is I was overcome with sadness and felt like I was teetering on the edge of a panic attack for two hours. I stared at the drinks around me, at all of the faces as they took those sips and I felt like an outsider and even a failure in some way. Don’t get me wrong, I know in my brain that I’m not, I am well aware that my choice to be sober is a powerful one, but it doesn’t mean that it there isn’t pain associated with the fact that I can’t join in with everyone like I used to. There were a few moments that I felt like I might burst into tears right there in the middle of dinner, my heart was racing and the sweat was out of control. I did my best to take deep breaths, put on a happy face and join the conversation while trying to plot my escape. I’m used to being a lively part of the banter, but I could barely contribute this time, because I didn’t want to talk about drinking and that was the theme of the evening. I can now recall that was the theme at nearly every event like this, I just never noticed it so much because I was right in the middle of it. Once upon a time, I could laugh with them and reminisce about a time or two that I had too much, but I’ve been so focused on my sobriety that it didn’t feel right to visit those places. I was also afraid that I would end up spilling some of my story and this was definitely not the time for that.

I started feeling desperate to get out of there, it was becoming too much for me to handle, but every time I would try to leave one of my co-workers, who also happens to be one of my bosses, kept telling me I needed to stick around for a while longer. He persisted several times, which only made me more uncomfortable and trapped. After about 45 minutes of this, as soon as another coworker stood up to make her exit to get home to her child, I ignored any further attempts to get me to stay and said my quick goodbyes and practically ran to my car. I could not get home to my safe space fast enough. Fortunately, E was home this week and after getting into the house I was able to talk through what had just happened, feel his comfort and reassurance, and finally cry.

Although I do feel much better, I’m still in the midst of the after-effects this morning. I know that I’ll find my way through this, but for now the sadness is still with me. To top it off, something that I hadn’t been overly concerned about before, but that is weighing heavily on me now, is that next week is my annual company meeting out of town. This is usually two booze-filled days of serious partying. After last night’s experience, no matter how much preparing I do in advance, I just don’t know what to expect. Fortunately, there is one other sober person in my company and she is aware that I’ve quit drinking, so I fully expect to stick close to her and to make quick and early exits from the evening’s events, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t going to be tough. I don’t like the way last night made me feel and I don’t look forward to going through anything close to that again. I’d prefer a little break from these ‘firsts’ right now, but that isn’t going to happen until I get past next week.

Until then, I’m taking deep breaths, focusing on my 50 days of a clear head and envisioning a beautiful future of sober living. One day at a time, right?


Author: Tracie

I'm a 40-something woman & chronic blogger who also happens to be an adult child of an alcoholic, former Jehovah’s Witness, and abuse survivor. I’m fortunate to be where I am today; although I’m still figuring it all out, it’s finally time I owned my truth. Newly sober as of 2.20.18 Follow me on my new site:

18 thoughts

  1. No matter how hard it was (well, obviously it matters) but you did GREAT! You did NOT drink. You stayed with yourself, which meant that you indeed had to cry because it was difficult. And however horrible or uncomfortable that might feel, it is WAY better than drowning that feeling in booze.
    Next time you might want to focus not on the drinks but on how irritating people get when they drink, and how boring, repetitive and aggressive. Like ‘forcing’ you to stay when you obviously want to go. That is just very unsensitive.
    Wishing you a quick recovery of this experience. Self-care is key. And seriously: if you don’t want to go next weekend: don’t. Just don’t. Self care is key. You do not have to be able to do everything. Other people act like they can do everything, but they need to drink themselves senseless in order to get through the weekend…. that is one of those destructive dynamic I really have come to dislike. Not good. 😦 Self-care. Babysteps.
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Feeling. I appreciate how you say that I “stayed with myself” – that can sometimes be the hardest part in so many ways. You definitely seem to understand that. I am proud for not drinking and I feel much better today after processing all of this and after a good visit to my therapist. Self-care at its finest!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you don’t mind a lengthy comment! A couple of things: rule #1 is to leave when you need to leave. If you are comfortable, you may need to explain this to your bosses. Pulling the plug, so to speak, is one of the best survival techniques. My work life is very similar to yours. It was hard until I just told everyone “I quit drinking.” Very few people asked follow up questions. Now they know, and they seem to be ok with it. Quick anecdote: I had this same experience in week one. Big biz dinner. I was totally panicked. We met in the bar beforehand. I ordered water and told them all that I had a cold. A guy I’ve known 25 years ordered the most gorgeous martini “ever.” We sit down. I’m in the middle. MANY juicy bottles of red wine. But i watched everyone: the ring leaders did 95% of the drinking. Several worked the same glass of wine the entire time. And my friend with the martini? When we left he still had some left in his glass. WTF! Lightbulb moment for me. I cannot drink normally. Anyway, sorry to be so long winded. I relate to this so much. Thanks for sharing! It DOES get easier; being transparent helped me. Take care!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HD – Thank you SO much for this reply! Never worry about being lengthy, this was so helpful to read. It’s comforting to know that you can relate. The crazy thing here is that nearly everyone was drinking heavily, only two were limiting, and that is the norm. I am surrounded by this and definitely need to do something. I know that eventually everyone will find out, and many may figure it out next week – I’m just not so sure that some will be so understanding or respectful given the times I’ve seen some even make fun of others for some ridiculous reasons (usually this happens when they’ve been drinking, of course). I do plan on being open about it, and have to some extent, but last night in front of a client was not the place. I think you are right, I may need to find the opportunity to have a chat with a couple folks to let them know what is going on, my husband made this same recommendation last night. Thank you for your encouragement, it is always GREATLY appreciated!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Anne: what I didn’t say is “I am so sorry you are hurting.” And I am! Good for you for staying strong and for being willing to share. Just one more comment: the (few) assholes whom I’ve encountered who really pushed it DID back off when I needed to be honest/blunt with them. And always remember it is more about them than you. Good luck next week and for sure keep reaching out!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Please don’t feel sad. You are truly amazing for getting through all that. I didn’t go to any social events at all for nearly 2 months because I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle it. Even now I wouldn’t be able to surround myself with heavy drinkers so what you are doing is inspirational. Be kind to yourself ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Claire! I wish I could skip social events, but much of this is a requirement. I’ll have to make appearances next week, but I should be able to duck out. There is no doubt that I’m going to paint a target on myself and may be the subject of some ridicule at some point, but I also know in my heart that anyone that does behave that way is not worth my time. I hope you are well, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure it’ll get easier the more events you attend. You really are doing amazing. Yes, those people are not worth your time and the people that have your best interests at heart are the ones that matter. I’m very well thank you. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Anne, I wrote a blog about exactly this feeling, but it happened to me at a baseball game with all my drinking friends. (I was about 4 months’ sober at the time.) When I analyzed the feeling I had, it was heartbreak. I missed the old me that used to have fun with these people. I was heartbroken to think that it was over for good. It was a child-like feeling and I remember I felt like crying the whole time.
    On the very bright side, it’s only happened about twice since I quit drinking. I mourned the loss of the person I used to be, and then I let it go. Now I’m someone way better. 💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this with me. I can see now that much like you, there was certainly heartbreak involved here and even grief. You nailed it on the head when you mention a “child-like” feeling, I felt like a little girl who didn’t fit in and that tends to come up for me from time to time and more so when I no longer have the alcohol to mask that. The good news is that I continue to learn so much and am learning ways to deal with it. Wishing you a very good day – thanks for your comment.


  5. HI Anne!
    I am really sorry you have that much pressure at work functions.
    And I am sorry you felt sad.
    I never had that kind of experience while sober.
    That is super hard, and it makes me mad that people pushed drinks on you, or will make fun of you.
    I am glad you have a plan for next week.
    I am hoping you can tell your boss, or some people you think you can trust.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Wendy! Thank you. Today is a better day, that is for sure. A good couple of cries, a session with my therapist, and writing about the experience when I was still deep in the feelings was so helpful to my process. Above all, just hearing others stories and how they can relate has again made me realize that I am not alone in this. The work pressure is pretty strong, but I’ve been telling more and more people slowly. I made the decision to tell the one person who is also a boss before the out of town meetings next week. I want to make it clear that if I duck out of an event early that he at least understands why. Thank you, as always, for your kindness and the time you take to read and comment. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Anne – I found your blog thanks to Wendy. I have a work conference coming up next week too. This is a conference where there are lots of parties and open bars. I always used to be at every party and everyone knows I’m always up for fun (aka going out for drinks). I too am worried about how hard it will be and how I will survive the conference sober.
    Your plan to have an exit strategy and a friend is a great one! Best of luck – you can do this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! I’m so glad you found me through our dear friend, Wendy! Thank you for commenting and sharing this. This sounds identical to what I’ll be experiencing next week – lots of booze will be flowing and open bars everywhere. Sadly, I just found out that my one sober partner will not be in attendance on the second (and likely to be the craziest) night. She has to fly home early. I still plan to leave early, but it’s going to be a tough week. Perhaps we can be a source of support for one another in some way to get through it. Feel free to email me if you’d like, truthofbeingme@gmail – I know we can both do this, but any extra support can help! I look forward to reading your blog…planning to catch up on that world over the weekend. Also – very nice to meet you.


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