Drinking Friends

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I’m posting this excerpt from the memoir I’m writing because it sums up what happened to me again and again when hanging out with drinking friends. (I was 23 days’ sober at the time.)

************

That evening, I sat on a friend’s back porch, watching her smoke and drink the wine she’d poured from a bottle chilling in a bucket of ice. She’d bought my favorite kind, though I’d told her I wasn’t drinking.

She was completely at ease, stretched out in her chair, swirling her wine in the glass. In contrast, I was restless and jittery, as if I’d had way too much coffee. Even the cicadas’ insane trilling jarred my nerves.

Our conversation, so effortless while drinking, was now stilted, full of fits and starts, as if we’d just met, though we’d been friends for years. Drinking buddies, actually. Hours could pass and we’d barely notice, laughing and drinking under the huge oaks trees in her backyard. But now, I didn’t find her stories nearly as funny, and she could feel my impatience to leave.

Sober, it turns out, I couldn’t sit for hours, doing nothing but talking and watching her smoke. Wine was the glue that held us together, and we became strangers without it.

She went to top off her wine, and then reached across to fill the empty glass in front of me, as if by habit.

“No thanks,” I said.

She swatting at a cloud of gnats. “Why not just one glass?”

Eve, in the Garden of Eden.

I didn’t answer her. I just stared off into the trees, wondering why this was so hard.

I shouldn’t be here.

In the silence, I could sense her frustration with me for not being what she wanted … for not playing my role. I felt a flash of anger.

But you’re free to leave,I reminded myself.

Years later, I could recognize when a friendship faltered without the wine, and I’d have no trouble walking away the minute I felt like it. But on Day 23, I could only watch her drink — gesturing with the glass, refilling it again. I saw only that a drink could solve everything that was wrong in this moment — the discomfort and loneliness and anger.

As I sat across from her, my resolve melting like the ice cubes in the bucket, I felt just a whisper of pain —familiar and heart breaking. Betrayal.

Not hers, but mine.

As I reached across the table for the wine bottle, sweaty and slick with condensation, she took a long drag on her cigarette, eyeing me appraisingly. She blew out the smoke, snuffed out her cigarette, and smiled.

“Welcome back,” she said.

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43 thoughts on “Drinking Friends

      1. I’m glad you’re not friends with that person anymore. I mean, if there was something deeper going on, you would be able to have a conversation even if you were sober.
        Yes, writers are insecure. At least, I am. Haha

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol the rest of my comment didn’t make it but I went on to say that I could relate!! “HD” in this context started when I was protecting anonymity; most people call me by my actual name, Hearon. Thanks!

        Like

  1. I just found your blog from a link on Mrs. D’s site. This is the first post that I’ve read, but cannot wait to read more. I also so needed to hear this today (Sober Day 30) because I need to start getting out into the world again and that includes drinking friends. Thanks for the warning to be prepared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Clair! Mrs. D’s blog is where I got the idea of blogging to stay sober. I owe her big time. 😀
      Meeting up with drinking friends … it’s a tricky situation. I only had drinking friends, which made it extra hard. In fact, you’ve given me an idea for a blog post. Thank you again.
      Also, congratulations on DAY 30! That’s a major achievement. 💕

      Like

  2. Ms miracle…brilliant writing!!!!
    The ending made me have a visceral reaction as almost the exact same thing happened with me. I had been sober for 2 years and my son was 6 months old. I had very bad PND and went for dinner with a very old friend who I used to drink with. She was so happy when I relapsed. It just makes me so sad. The way you describe the 26-day(sober) anxiety is brilliant and I can relate to every word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sooo wish you were my next-door neighbor. You should be coaching people in your real life. You have such a gift for it! There is NO ONE who makes me happier to write a blog than you. 💕
      It’s funny you should mention the friend you had. This friend worked actively to sabotage anyone’s sobriety, not just mine. Last I heard, she’s still smoking and drinking whiskey sours on her back porch, entertaining the neighbors. I haven’t seen her in years.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE this piece. It’s captivating and raw and beautifully done. I look forward to reading your book. You have a lot of wisdom to share with other people who are currently, or will be in this exact position. It’s not easy making massive lifestyle changes, and it’s especially not easy when former temptations linger nearby. Brilliant, as always. Big love to you! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!
      It’s funny how easily we discount our own contribution to the world for having done just this one thing — quitting drinking. I am doubly blessed for having taken so freaking long to finally do it! I’m joking there, but not really. I’m reading every day about people who feel like giving up because it’s been 5, 10, or 20 years of trying.
      As always, BIG LOVE to you too, Antasha. 💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shawna, even though we haven’t (yet) met in person, I feel SO connected to your spirit! I’m so grateful we’ve found each other through some beautiful synchronicity. Thank you for sharing your journey honestly and openly — I admire you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know EXACTLY what you mean! I may have told you this before, but there are a handful of bloggers I talk about as if I know them. I’ve talked openly to people about “this friend I have in New York” who I will probably meet up with next time I’m there.
        It’s only a matter of time. 💕💕

        Like

    1. Thank you!! This was my number one reason for caving for decades. Of course, half the time I was looking for a reason, so I can’t blame anyone. Also, I never told my friends how dire the situation was. Therefore, they just believed what I said: That I was quitting for thirty days as just a cleanse of some type.
      My new friends aren’t really drinkers, so it’s much easier now. They have a glass and then don’t even finish it! (How is that possible?)

      Thanks for stopping by. 💕
      Shawna

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely agree. I kept quiet about my problem. Once I was ready, I started talking about it, it was as a way to hold myself accountable. I always wondered how people could not finish their drinks.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post! I’ve just started my own blog in an attempt to deal with my own issues with alcohol (I self-medicate a LOT!) and even though I’m now sober 19days I’m finding my resolve is slowly weakening…eeek!! This post was just what I needed to read right now, as well as all your supportive comments. Thank you! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely identified with the inner struggle and the consciousness of my own betrayal as it was happening. Your imagery is fantastic! This is brilliantly written.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Your memior is going to motivatate so many people to reflect and change their way of thinking (present company included). I’ve read more of your blog and I’m in a new way of thinking today for sure.
        Thank you for sharing something so raw! Do you mind if I share your post on my twitter? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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