Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's a Social Situation

Bowing out of social invites is hard. Especially with people you used to drink (a lot) with. I'm still sort of deciding how I want to put it when asked me to come over and hang out. "We'll have some wine" (too much wine) "and hang out." (get drunk) On the playground isn't where I really want to get into a discussion about my drinking or the reasons why I quit.

I discovered yesterday that saying, "I'm taking a break" results in the "Are you crazy?" look from drinking folk. Well, let me clarify. Folk who drink like I used to drink. I don't think people who have a casual relationship with alcohol care either way. However. It's really uncomfortable to try to explain while pushing a pair of four year olds on swings. It went like this:

She: "Hey! You and the family should come over for dinner over the xmas break! We'll make pizza and have wine!"

Me: "Well, we're pretty busy, and I've been taking a break from drinking."

She: "A break? From drinking? Why would you do that?"

Me: "Well, it's pretty expensive, and I was just feeling like I needed a break..."

She: "Well, your husband can still drink can't he? Is that allowed? Or is he on a break too?"

Me: "Well, no he's not on a break" (he's the one glass and fine type by the way) "but we'll see."

I can't really covey the confused, baffled, almost offended look on her face here. Kind of like she was smelling poop and sucking on a lemon while trying to figure out the answer to 219 + 26. I'm sure I had a similar look, trying to say no without hurting her feelings. Maybe I should have just been honest.

She: "Hey! You and the family should come over for dinner over the xmas break! We'll make pizza and have wine!"

Me: "Oh, no. We could not possibly do that. I quit drinking because it was ruining my life. Coming to your house would be one of the most dangerous things I could do right now because you are a lush, just like I used to be. But thanks though." DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!

It brings up the feeling that I have to sort of weed through people who aren't good for me. Not that they aren't good people, just that they aren't good for me. And also the feeling that these sorts of friendships will naturally fall by the wayside, that there really isn't a need to force the issue. And that I have a choice in the matter.

I'm the sort of person who, when faced with a tough social situation, always makes it work for the other person. Even to my own detriment. I will make myself hurt, or sad, or uncomfortable- take the blame when it's not my fault- just so someone else doesn't have to suffer. And I am terrible (terrible!) at standing up for myself. I'm a *gasp!*.... people pleaser! Now that's a shocking quality in an alcoholic, hmmmm? I am also bad at asking for help. (The two go hand in hand I think) And then, joining our couple...saying yes when you really mean no! A trifecta of personality flaws.

So, I'm curious. How do you handle situations like this, especially so early in sobriety?


  1. Hi, Amy. I was sent to visit your blog from Tired of Thinking about Drinking. Thank you for your post! And a huge congrats on your decision to get sober!! That is the first and best decision that isn't "people-pleasing" and is entirely for YOU! Awesome :)

    I related to everything you were saying. It is tough to know what to say. But in the grand scheme of things, while we aren't out to hurt others, how important is that person or how much is their opinion going to mean to you in the long run? How important is your sobriety to you?

    If your answers are what I think they are, then along with your first, best, non-people pleasing decision, is the decision to OWN your sobriety. Be proud of what you have done! It is a BIG thing. HUGE!! And you have done it for YOU! Possibly also for those around you, your loved ones who might have been directly or indirectly affected by your drinking. So, for everyone who is most important to you, OWN IT!! Especially with those who you suspect won't be there in the end. They should be the easy ones to try out your new "sober pride" on.

    How that looks to you is all a part of your personal process, I think. However it feels "right" for you in the moment. Not the usual sheepish, hiding, saving other people discomfort or yucky feeling people-pleasing... but the bold, strong, proud to be making a GOOD life decision for you and your loved ones. THAT is how you want to come away from these interactions when turning down someone's invite to something that will inevitably not be good for you, and how you wan to feel about your sobriety.

    Personally, I did all the extremes, and went from being so bold and puking my sobriety all over everyone so that they could get their judgement out of the way and I could see if they were still around and worth my time, to never telling anyone and just escaping the situation, all the way to now just calmly owning it and not needing or expecting anything in response. Anyone else's response to my sobriety is their stuff, not my stuff. Right!?

    You won't save everyone from discomfort. Just like you will never please everyone. But there is a difference between intentionally causing someone harm or pain and just being honest with them because you are taking pride and ownership in what you are doing. This is your job, right now, would you be proud to claim ownership of a new highly important job position?

    Who knows... maybe your honesty will be the start of a seed that eventually grows into their getting honest with themselves and their own sobriety.
    Anyways, I hope that helps and didn't come off too preachy. I enjoy your blog and wish you well.
    xx :)

    1. My sobriety is so important- the most important thing right now- you are totally right and not preachy one little bit. I am looking forward to NOT being that people-pleasing person since I don't have to hide anymore. It's so lovely to NOT be ashamed of who I am.

      I think a lot of being sober is learning to lean into the curves. When I drank, I would try to keep things as straight and sane as possible (I call that booze logic.) by drinking or dealing with hangovers OR trying to quit (while really not trying to quit at all).

      Being OK with any discomfort- mine or someone else's. Something to be proud of! :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It helps. :)

  2. Found you through Belle and I have to say that this post made me LOL for real! Priceless.

    Early in my sobriety I just stayed away. Even after I thought it was okay "to go back in the water", I really shouldn't have. I felt best just staying home, cocooning with my family and sleeping...I did a lot of sleeping in those days. I'm pretty sure it was my body's way of catching up after all the sleepless, wine induced nights in my drinking days.

    Can't wait to catch up on your posts. Stay sober, it is sooooo worth it!


    1. I think I have to stay away. I know I have to stay away! For two reasons: 1-)I have to stay sober. In a weak moment I might cave. Right now I don't think this is true, but catch me at 6 o'clock PM and the answer would be different. 2-)People who would encourage me to drink are not really looking out for me, they just want a drinking buddy. Someone to make their drinking OK. When I used to drink it was always a relief to find someone who could drink as much as me so I wouldn't have to curtail mine. The friends I need are the ones I can enjoy spending time with sans alcohol buffer.

      Thanks for reading, Sherry! :)

  3. Hi there. Love your new blog. I love your honesty with your writing. I can identify with every single post! I'm sober since October 8 of this year. I understand you not wanting to tell the truth. You certainly don't owe anyone an explanation. I quit smoking the same day I quit drinking so I tell people that drinking is a smoking trigger so I'm not drinking for a while. I can use that one forever if I need to. Have I gotten pressure to just have one or try a taste of this new wine? Yup, I have.. I just say no thanks and change the subject. Really, it's only the boozy people who have their own issues that care. Normies don't give a crap if I'm drinking or not. It gets easier and less uncomfortable the more you do it. Hang in there. You are doing great and please know you are not alone

    1. High five to you! An extra one for the quitting smoking too. I also smoked (only when I drank). High ten!!!

      No thanks, change the subject. I'm going to practice that so when I do it I don't sound like a kid calling up to ask for a first date.

      I like the term "Normies". And they don't give a crap. Maybe that should be a qualification for whether I can be friends with someone. "So...Sally? What if we're going out to dinner and I don't have 3 glasses of wine. How would that make you feel?" Sally: "WHAT? NO WINE? ARE YOU CRAZY???" "OK, Sally, thanks for stopping in. Next!"

      Thanks for reading. :) I really appreciate it.

  4. Hi Amy!

    Nice to find your blog - also via TOTAND.

    I totally relate to this and it is a hard one. I've had lots of spells off drinking and reactions have been mixed. As you said, those without a problematic relationship with alcohol don't really care. They may be curious, or concerned, but they don't actually care that you're not drinking. It is ONLY the people who also have a problem who give you grief, which I found it helps to remember as it's all about them not you.

    I've been slightly vague with people about the depths of the problem and my feelings about it (in all honesty I think because I wanted to still be able to drink if I chose without people being worried). I've kind of said things along the lines of that I was feeling like it was affecting me badly (anxiety, depression) and worrying me and therefore I feel better without it. I've still had odd comments and reactions from former drinking buddies. Other friends, even if they drink a lot, have been completely wonderful and supportive. So I second (third, fourth?) the fact that it helps you weed out those who aren't good for you as well as those who have your best interests at heart. At least it has for me.

    I am hoping to quit again (hopefully for good) in the new year. At which point I plan to keep it simple and basically say I've realised I'm a lot happier and healthier when I'm not drinking (true) so I'm having a long break off (read hopefully forever). Anyone who hassles me unduly will get the door quietly closed on them in my life. Too many wonderful people in the world to invest time and energy in to bother with those who are toxic for us, right?

    In the meantime, well done and happy holidays to you.

    Lilly x