A few weeks ago, I made a decision that was absolutely not a New Years Resolution, because I intend to keep this going beyond February. I decided not to drink anymore.
The immediate reaction ranged from shades of "Um excuse me what?" to "Better you than me" to "You don't drink that much anyway" to a strange negotiation along the lines of: "Well, you don't mean, like, never drinking again, right? Just not getting hammered. You can still have a glass of wine or something.....right?"
Sure, I can technically have a glass of wine. But I won't. I won't have a glass of wine because I don't want one. I am not having even just a sip, just to taste how fantastic it is. Not a beer either. Not even if you made it yourself. I will toast you with ginger ale, or root beer - and I won't be any less enthusiastic about it. Because I have spent years adjusting my behavior, and drinking less often, it is actually almost a relief to be able to finally just man up and say "No. I can't meet you for a beer. But I would love a cup of tea."
It's awkward, sure. I think if I was attending AA, or some terrible and dramatic event had transpired, or if people saw that my drinking was affecting my entire life in a negative way, it might be easier for people to accept my decision. As it is, I am greeted most often by confusion about my reasoning behind not drinking anymore. What would cause me to make such a ridiculous statement?
The bottom line is, whether you think it was necessary for me to stop is absolutely beside the point. I have learned over the years not to drink because I will inevitably get wasted. I have no off button. If I drink, I keep drinking until I cannot drink anymore. Or walk, for that matter. Or stand. Or sit. I've got nothing to prove, and no need to get absolutely hammered publicly anymore. And not to make that point, but rather to add to your speculation: if someone chooses to stop drinking, and your first thought is "they don't drink that much", you might want to consider whether you are really the best person to make that call.
Just a thought.
It is my birthday this weekend, and the first one in about 20 years that will not begin with bloody Marys and end with praying to sweet baby Jesus that my bedroom stop spinning, or - as happened on a particularly festive occasion, getting pulled out of a locked bathroom stall by the leg. where I was found passed out with toilet paper still in my hand. Or falling out of the (passenger seat) of the car headfirst into a snowdrift which remarkably failed to sober me up. Or being known as "the puker" and having people racing to get a trash can in front of you before you splash everyone.
There will be no champagne toasts during lunch, or margaritas at happy hour. Dinner will not include a bottle of my favorite cabernet, and karaoke will not be accompanied by shots of liquid courage. I have never said no to a Bloody Mary. This is going to hurt.
So here we go. If you are out there struggling with sobriety, know that while it may be easier for some people to quit drinking, being sober is still a source of constant conversation, negotiation, gossip, and amusement for others who are watching from the sidelines. Revel in the fact that telling them all to fuck off, getting in your car, and driving yourself home is suddenly an option when you haven't been drinking all night. I encourage you to give it a shot - no pun intended.
4 hours ago