This past Saturday was filled with activities with our usual group of friends. We had brunch and a movie planned with one couple, followed by dinner with six friends at one of their homes. We’ve had a handful of events with these friends since I quit drinking, but I’ve kept it limited while I was finding my way through early sobriety. Being just 10 weeks in, I’m still awfully new at this, but I looked at my husband on the way to the theater Saturday morning and told him it was the first time I didn’t feel a stitch of anxiety over the day ahead. I wasn’t concerned that I might want to order a mimosa at brunch or have a beer at the movie because I truly didn’t want either of those things. It also dawned on me that I had no reservations about feeling awkward around everyone and I was actually looking forward to getting out. This was a very nice change of pace.
I won’t bore you with every detail, but this feeling stuck with me all day. Even when cocktails were passed around and wine was poured, at no moment did I feel like I was missing anything or have any cravings. I had my trusty club soda and felt just fine. My biggest challenge that night was trying to follow interesting conversations around as the attention span of some started to drop off the more the evening went on. Drinking will tend to do that. There was something different that happened on this particular night, questions came my way about sobriety. This was the first time with these friends since I came out in my 30-day post to everyone about why I chose sobriety and we were also joined by a friend who I haven’t seen at all during this phase. She is probably the most blunt and direct person I know, and I totally appreciated that on Saturday. Finally, someone wasn’t afraid to talk about it and because I was instantly receptive, I think others realized it was okay for them to join the discussion. I even made a point to tell them that it was much easier on me to have the conversations than to have everyone tip-toe around me. If someone wanted to know something, I welcomed the questions.
A question or maybe more of a statement that I continue to hear from people is that they never viewed me as someone with a drinking problem. I keep coming up against that and I always confirm that everyone is different and they couldn’t see my patterns the way that I did. On this particular night, that issue kept coming up. Two of the women pressed me about how I never drank as much as they did and questioned how I could think I have a problem. I did not take offense at all, I can understand why this might bother someone and so I opened up about some of the details that I hadn’t shared in the post that they all read. They are well aware that I’ve been in therapy and I tried to touch on the fact that I finally figured out that I was using alcohol to numb, but that didn’t seem to quite reach them. I then told them about my failed attempts at moderation and that I was developing a pattern of sneaking alcohol in my own home when my husband wasn’t looking. But, it was when I shared that I had put rum in my tea on my way to work a handful of mornings that they seemed to get it. That particular detail had them both staring at me with open mouths and saying “Oh! I would never do that.” I had to brush off the guilt that tried to find its way in after that reaction and instead recognized their responses were perhaps a sense of relief of their own drinking habits.
The evening would continue with multiple drunken interruptions claiming again that I couldn’t possibly have a drinking problem. This was always followed with their recall of the ‘tea thing’ and then the cycle would start all over. It really didn’t bother me so much and while they may not retain full memory of what I had to say, at least the conversations happened. Eventually, however, the repetition grew exhausting and I was ready to leave. When you are the one sober person in the room watching others lose their faculties, at some point the fun wears off and you hit a wall. Even when I wasn’t sober, I usually found that wall before anyone else.
What would be really nice is to have these conversations with my friends when they are not under the influence of alcohol. But I’m not so sure that is going to happen because alcohol is the one constant in this group – at least until now with my sobriety.