Day 6. Almost a week. Feeling strong. Feeling resolute. I know I don’t have this beat yet, but today I am feeling juiced up and ready to go. I am surrounded by people who love and care for me, and are supportive of my journey. I am also acutely aware that my journey may make others feel uncomfortable. It may make others feel self-conscious of their own alcohol intake.
People with whom I have previously drank with regularly, daily or bi weekly, may start to become more aware of their own alcohol consumption in contrast to my abstinence. Just like I will feel out of place being the only one NOT drinking – when it is only two of us, and only one of us IS drinking, perhaps that can be awkward for that person. Perhaps not.
I say this because a friend that I have been drinking with regularly, who knows of my recent sobriety, asked me the other day if it “would bother me to take a sip of this beer,” because they wanted to share the taste of it with me. I said no, it wouldn’t bother me. I am not allergic to alcohol, I just choose not to drink it. I do not feel that “tasting” a drink will lead me to drink a whole glass. I am not that type of… wait… I almost said alcoholic… easy, girl.. I am not that type of over-indulger. My problem is when the second one becomes the third and so on. My “off” switch is too frequently broken after a few drinks and I go balls-deep in the hooch until I am stumbly/mumbly and acting like I have no sense. Today, this same friend is coming for dinner and texted me “I’m bringing some wine.” Previously this text would have resulted in a “Woohoo!” or “Hell yeah!” or “You better!” This time my response was “Get it.” I am not sure if they were texting me to warn me, ask permission, or if they were hopeful that they would get the “old-me” response. But it makes me curious if my not drinking is making them uncomfortable.
The more disconcerting thought is that perhaps they are trying to sabotage me or test my resolve. That thought makes me sad, and I don’t want to believe it. Edit: As the evening has closed, I’m happy to report that this was not the case, and I am ashamed that I was suspicious had so little faith in my friend. I should have known better.
I know this journey is going to make some people I know uncomfortable. It will make some people question their own alcohol intake and some will even think I am being a judgy bitch by not imbibing with them. I hope that last one isn’t true, but I am prepared for it.
What can I do about this? Be strong. Be kind. Be empathetic. I am not asking anyone to stop drinking around me. I am not preaching or telling people the ills of alcohol or how it is negatively impacting their life. Most of the people I know are aware I am writing a blog – but only a handful know what it is about and even fewer have been given access to it.
This is a not a completely solitary journey for me. I have shared with a few friends my desire to be sober. For some I have told them that it is for a specific amount of time, for others I have shared my real truth, that my goal is truly to be sober for life. The reasons for this difference in messages is as varied as my friends-sets. But in the end, this is MY journey. My truth. In many ways, this is a very selfish journey I am taking. I am laser focused on MY recovery. MY reasons. MY truth. MY. MY. MY. (That’s a lot of “my’s”).
We live in a world obsessed with self-care. Perhaps we should try to balance our self care with our empathy for others. Ensure that we are getting what we need and still be considerate of others’ needs. Addressing of my own needs doesn’t necessarily mean neglecting the needs of others.
I need to understand how my journey will affect the people I love and be empathetic towards them. I need to understand that they see me a certain way, and it will be an adjustment for them to see me otherwise. I have created and accepted the expectations they have of me. As they can no longer count on my meeting those expectations, I need to understand this will create stress in some relationships. Especially those that are primarily based in a shared love of wine/beer/alcohol.
In all relationships there is a dance. Over time, you learn that dance, and anticipate your partner’s predictable actions so that you can react in a way that is predictable to them. This predictably leads to familiarity, which provides a sense of order. When you do not act or react in a predictable manner, it upsets this order and creates stress for the other dancer. Even if the change is positive, it still upsets the balance of the dance. I need to be patient with my friends as they adjust to my new dance moves. Perhaps some will decide they can’t get the steps and will just stop dancing with me. I need to be willing to accept that, as sad as it will be. My hope is that although the tune has changed – they will see me as just as clever a dancer as always and we will find a new rhythm that is pleasing for all of us.