Over the past few days, for a number of reasons, the changes in my life have been on my mind. From job changes to income changes to location changes to travel changes to alcohol consumption changes. When you’re in the middle of a season of change, it can be hard to pull yourself back and look at the big picture, as well to see how your view of things has changed. A lot of things that ten years ago, were my normal, are so far from where I am now. My definition of normal has drastically changed. One thing that I hadn’t thought about in a while was one of the harder parts of transitioning to a sober person. Saying no to alcohol when others offered.
As I’ve mentioned before, I “quit” drinking more times than I can remember. The last (and final) time that I quit, it felt SO awkward to say no to drinks. I think it was a mix of wanting to prove to myself first that this would stick but it was also a fear of what others would say. When I started saying no to drinks, the first question was “are you pregnant?” (Y’all know that wasn’t the case.) When you’ve been a heavy drinker, it’s a BIG deal when you say no to drinks. And if you’re not pregnant, it can be hard to truthfully explain your reason for not drinking.
While I’ve been marinating on this, I realized that it’s because you have to be honest with others about your struggle. You have to admit “hey, I have a problem, and I’m not drinking anymore.” Even though I shared quite honestly about my struggle with alcoholism and sobriety, I didn’t share until about a year and a half AFTER my last drink. It took me months to share with those closest to me. Now that I’ve shared, I have no problem talking about why I’m not drinking.
But as I’ve been thinking about that time, I forgot how hard that time was. There is so much out there trying to keep you from staying sober. From TV shows showing you that it’s ok to get drunk to the fear of being honest with others that you can’t drink. It’s SO much easier to just say, “yea sure!” to a drink than to say “you know what, I’m not drinking because I have a problem and I can’t control myself.”
So if you’re asking a friend if they want a drink, give a little grace and don’t push it if they say no. And if you’re thinking you might have a problem and want to quit, hold on, when you make it past the first few months (or year) of discomfort in saying no, the rewards are amazing.
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I’m a musician and so I’m always in places where people are drinking, and honestly my whole life was around drugs and alcohol my whole social world.
So when I stop drinking it was because it got pretty bad and so I didn’t have any ideas that I wanted to drink anymore because I was very afraid of drinking. Scared sober I guess they would call it.
But still I had a weirdness about those awkward occasions where people would have a picture or say hey let me buy you a drink or something like that or the free drinks and I would have to turn them down.
It always felt strange to me in a whole number of ways. But I think the number one thing reason why it felt strange was because I thought people would think something was wrong with me or there was something weird about not drinking with them.
End it appears I have about the same amount of steps over time as you do I have nearly 11 years right now.
But at the time that I got sober there is this show, this cop show that Steven Seagal Was in. It was a reality TV show and he was kind of like a honorary cop for the show and all the cops knew him and stuff so it was a reality cop show, and he would tagalong on the rides and film adding people a trip out there it’s Steven Seagal etc.
But I remember watching one show and he said that he doesn’t drink or use drugs because it clouds his mind.
And I thought that was so cool because he had never drank his whole life he had never drink alcohol or use drugs for the simple reason that it clouds his mind.
And then I started to look around and really the people that drink all the time or the people that would think I was weird because I’m not drinking, chances are they either have a problem themselves or they’re not my friends.
But since that day I think it was about seven or eight months sober I was. I was certain I had no problem turning down drinks. Because I no longer felt the need that I need to justify to anyone why I didn’t drink. And when you look at the round the world there are plenty of people that do not drink, or only drink a little bit.
I have three friends that are sober almost as long as me and way more than I’ve been. And all three of their wives drink. It’s just they hardly ever drink. They have a glass of wine maybe if they go out for dinner. If it’s New Year’s Eve maybe they might git buzzed.
I mean I learned early on that the root of my problem in my drinking is that I’m self-centered and so the solution to my problem with drinking is to not be so concerned about myself.
So now when people ask why I don’t drink my answer is just I don’t like it or if they delve further I’ll say it messes up my thinking I don’t like the wake it makes me feel. Which is true. It’s a miracle and it’s totally crazy from the life I used to live, but it’s totally true now.
Thank you so much for your comment! Dude, I think you hit the nail on the head “really the people that drink all the time or the people that would think I was weird because I’m not drinking, chances are they either have a problem themselves or they’re not my friends.” That’s so true! Thanks again for such a thoughtful comment.