As a newly sober person, I think every day about not drinking. I think about it every single fucking day. Makes me tired. It occurs to me that a person with a “healthy” relationship with alcohol never think about “not” drinking. They just do or don’t. Either way it is of little to no consequence to them. It isn’t in the forefront of their mind. It is just background noise.
A simple happy hour invite goes a little something like this:
How I imagine it goes for a person with a health relationship with alcohol: (people I’m currently simultaneously annoyed with and envious of): My friends are going to happy hour. Should I go to happy hour and have a drink with friends after work? Maybe… Maybe not. Who will be there? I should go, have a beer or two and catch up. Maybe I can catch the game while I’m there… The question of “drinks” is just background noise to the main event – catching up with friends. Person goes to happy hour, has a great time, relaxes, enjoys the game, a beer, some appetizers and some laughs with friends.
How it goes for a person with a complicated relationship with alcohol embarking on sobriety (me): My friends invited me to go to happy hour. Should I go? I miss them, so I should go. If I don’t go, it will be weird. If I do go, I can’t drink. Can I go and not drink? Will I be miserable? If I don’t drink, will my friends have questions? Will I be boring? Will I be bored? Will I want to leave early? Will my leaving early be perceived as my being anti-social? The question of “drinks” becomes the focal point of the decision-making process. Decidedly NOT background noise. I go and try to act “normal” without a drink in my hand, feel awkward ordering iced tea or a mocktail, try too hard, feel uncomfortable, notice what an awkward banana I’m being and leave just a little too early. I then go home and work the events of the evening over in my mind for a couple hours… I want the idea of not drinking to become as small a part of my thought process as the what to have for lunch today. A decision to be made -but easily made with very little brain or emotional power driving it. I feel amazing today physically, but sobriety makes me emotionally tired. I can’t wait for this to all just be background noise. I know I will get there eventually.
Until then, I will continue to be awkward. Continue to keep showing up. Staying strong. Knowing this is best for me. Waiting for the elephant to get a little smaller and take up a little less space.
Thanks for taking this journey with me. This platform has really helped me to organize my thoughts and keep me accountable.