Day 245: My Drinking Friends

article-0-0499050e000005dc-285_468x313

In any relationship, there is an unspoken promise. I will play my part, and you will play yours.

Negotiating friendships is a huge part of the struggle to quit drinking. In the beginning, those drinking friends are by far our closest, because we have built a life around those who drink like we do. I actually had no close friends who were non-drinkers by the time I quit. What could they offer me? Their very existence was a reminder that there were people out there who somehow survived without drinking, and maybe even disapproved of my own propensity to gravitate toward the bar.

But those drinking friendships are magic, aren’t they? You’re always sneaking out for a quick drink together, and you come to associate the warming ease of alcohol with their golden camaraderie. They are so much fun! And so are you. You are both funny and witty, and totaling willing to speak intimately the minute you sit down. It’s wonderful … almost like love itself.

Almost.

But what happens after you’ve stopped drinking?

In the beginning, you have to avoid these people like the plague because the lure of that camaraderie is too much to withstand. It’s too hard to sit there, soda water in hand, and see the disappointment in their eyes. It wouldn’t matter if you told them that one more drink would send you into liver failure. They still feel betrayed, because they are losing something too. It’s like your breaking up with them, and they know it. They need the magic as much as you do.

I drank a thousand times over to make someone else happy. To ease their discomfort. It didn’t matter how many days I’d put together or what kind of strategy I’d come up with. I bailed on myself at the outset, drinking to keep the status quo … playing my part in the relationship. Becoming who they knew me to be, and who I wanted to be in their presence.

Because who are you without your friends? It’s not as if you drank around them all the time, but you are not the same person while continuously drinking. You are someone else. You are hiding the biggest part of yourself behind a huge mask of attractiveness, social ease, and false bravado.

I just spent this weekend renegotiating a friendship when a couple visited my husband and me while on vacation. I had only seen the wife, one of my best friends, once while not drinking because we no longer live close. The time before had been so difficult. I was newly sober and still waffling … should I or shouldn’t I?

It was different this time, however. I made no apologies and no speeches. I made no excuses about health kicks or antibiotics. I just didn’t drink.

“You aren’t going to make me drink alone again, are you?” asked my friend, with a clear look of disappointment.

“No, I’m not. She’ll drink with you,” I quipped, pointing to my 27-year-old daughter.

My daughter laughed a little uncomfortably. She’s too smart to be pressured into drinking.

So, as the only nondrinker, I stood in bars, strolled beautiful sidewalks, and sat on sunlit balconies with my friends, all completely sober, except for the occasional sugar high.

And I could meet everyone’s eye completely. I played no part but my own.

Here I am, I thought. Not really who you knew at all. And I am willing to be uncomfortable and awkward and unsure of what to say next. Because this is who I am, and I don’t need to be “on” for anyone anymore. But I love you, just the same. 

Be happy for me.

Or don’t be. It makes no difference now.

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Day 245: My Drinking Friends

    1. Me too. It’s hard to resist, but easier for me because we moved away from most everyone I know. That gave me some down time that I didn’t have in the past. I still wouldn’t go for a girls’ weekend, though, because I would probably get bored just sitting around watching everyone else drink. ; )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You will find new friends.
        I realized after a while that many of my drinking friends were actually not nice people. I never really knew them, and the ones who also had issues with booze were scared by me.

        I have met many awesome sober women in the strangest of ways. And gone on weekend trips with them. There is nothing better than a group of sober, honest, authentic women.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Missed you Ms Miracle!

    I was just telling Savignon Blackout that all the ‘friends’ are ever so willing to get drunk with you at the bar but in the cold light of morning you face that mirror alone.

    I’m done with pleasing other people and making other drinkers feel comfortable. That is none of my business. If they can’t have a good time because I’m not plastered that is most definitely their problem.

    Like you say the ‘part we play’ in their life changes if it’s solely dependant on getting hammered then it wasn’t a real friendship to begin with.

    My business is being able to look at myself in the mirror, something I find easier to do these days. Sounds like it’s easier for you too:) xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Missed you too! I’ve been on vacation, which meant little time to read blogs.
      I am lucky that this friend is very supportive, but I did have a friend, years ago, who actively sabotaged any attempt I made at sobriety. In hindsight, I could see that she was threatened (like a significant other would be) by anything I did that she couldn’t be the leader of. She would actually make comments about how much I drank, when she drank much more than any of us. Not drinking would never occur to her, because that would mean she had a problem. And me focusing on her reaction meant that I did have a problem — with our friendship. Needless to say, we are no longer friends. And that is OK with me.
      Thank you for your comment — it helped reinforce my decision to “break up” with her.
      Cheers to being able to look in the mirror! ; )

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really only had one drinking friend who was threatened by my sobriety.
    I only meet her at a coffee place once a year now.
    We are the ones that have to live with our over drinking.
    I just can’t live that way anymore.
    I definitely have social anxiety, and it got very bad after I quit drinking.
    It’s much better now, but still there, and my real friends still love me, anxious and all!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wendy.
      I’ve found that the social anxiety starts to fade away the longer I am not drinking. I think the long withdrawal itself really made me more anxious than the social situations. Now I just suffer from social boredom. ; )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a friend I blamed for always making me drink but with hindsight she only ever asked me did I want a glass of wine, it was me who said yes. For the most part I drank by myself watching tv so I didn’t have a posse I hung out with. Luckily for me though, inspired by an earlier attempt to stop drinking, my best friend quit drinking because she saw how much better/different/happy I was (I went back to drinking) it took me 18 months to get back to stopping again but now our friendship is so so much deeper and meaningful.
    It sounds like you are strong enough and happy enough in your skin to attract a new group of friends or teen gage more with the old ones and test the waters. This is very positive to read though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ginger. I do hold myself accountable for drinking with this friend for years because after I “quit” the friendship (for a lot of reasons, not just this one), I continued to drink. So, my favorite excuse was gone — it was her fault! It was a great lesson in blame and accountability for me. And what I find out now is that the minute I have a “judging” thought of someone else, I am gently reminded of a time that I did either the same thing or something very similar. I too have egged people on to drink when I felt like having a drinking buddy. The shame! I’ve even done this with my own children. Ugh. In fact, I still do it to make other people more comfortable with my not drinking. I will make a whole pitcher of some exotic drink at a family reunion so people will have “fun.”
      I was just going to comment on your comment, Ginger, but now I have to face my own disturbing behavior. shit. ; )

      Like

  4. Good on you! As time goes by, it won’t be even a slight struggle to drink that soda or water while in the company of friends who drink. There’s an ease that comes with time in sobriety. OTOH, I realized fairly soon that those old friends weren’t “friends” after all. They were “drinking buddies.” They soon dropped out of my life. Most “real” friends who are “normal” drinkers simply don’t drink while in my company. It’s no sweat off their brows. IF, OTOH, they “might” have a problem themselves, they tend to avoid you because you make them uncomfortable about their own drinking. In any case, you done good, kiddo!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have noticed the tendency of heavy drinkers (like I was) to avoid me or be noticeably uncomfortable. I think they think I am counting their drinks. But you are right — normal drinkers don’t care one way or the other. My favorites are the former drinkers though. It’s nice to be with people in the same boat. ; )

      Like

  5. I absolutely LOVE this blog! It took me a while to open up to friends about not drinking anymore and as much as it seemed like they support me, a week will go by and I get another invite to happy hour….I think they forget how hard it is for me to say no because I don’t want to lose them as friends. Time will only tell who real friends are, the ones that will stick by your side regardless if you drink with them or not…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate the feedback. It’s nice to know there are people out there who share some of the same feelings I have.
      And you’re right — time does tell who remains a friend. I think sometimes they’re just confused about what’s OK and what’s not. They want to invite you, but either they don’t want to put you at risk or they don’t want to question their own drinking.
      Finding a few sober friends helps as well.
      Glad to meet you, sobernoodle!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s