Here’s what my goal is for the summer: don’t drink.
It seems maybe easier said than done depending on if you’ve ever tried a trial period of sobriety over the summer months. I feel like summer, especially, promotes drinking: iced cold sangria and dazzling glasses of rosé are nearly on every outdoor table from now until the end of August not to mention Pride, wedding’s, and weekend BBQ’s. I find the social aspect of drinking to be the hardest. I actually don’t want to drink unless I’m around other people who are. Then the FOMO really kicks in…maybe just one beer. But one beer normally turns into two or three, and then I start getting FOMO for sobriety. I scroll through my Instagram and my dry community is, well, dry and I’m not and I feel like I’ve wasted the evening or made a fool of myself.
Here’s an example of when I do drink socially, how my drinking hops into the front seat and takes over. I was at a celebration two weekends ago with an open bar. Obviously, I wanted a drink. Fast forward two hours later, and I’d had six glasses of Prosecco and was feeling sick to my stomach. The next day a friend (we’ll call Alice) who was at the event mentioned to me that a mutual friend had come up to her the night before and commented, “Haley is so drunk.” Quickly, Alice responded, “but I mean we all were.” It’s a refrain I’ve repeated more than once, that, I need to be drunk to make it through any family function. And let me tell you, a drink or two does make the occasion easier. It dulls the awkwardness, turns down the embarrassment (for me, of standing out), and makes family time feel, well, like family time. I drink because it makes me feel normal and it makes me feel like I belong.
When I don’t drink, I spend a lot of time hitting around a ball of resentment.
Why can’t I just drink like a damn 24-year-old?
Why does it have to be so complicated for me?
It’s complicated because I choose to make it so.
It’s complicated because I have a compulsion to do what everyone else is doing, because if I don’t, I feel like the one left out. I recall being a teenager and just wanting what the cool girl wore because she wore it so effortlessly. In my young adulthood (as of like, last month), I just wanted to be comfortable enough in my own skin that I didn’t care what decisions other people were making. Sobriety stumped me, because when I actively sought out a community of women who were sober, the response I consistently got went like this: “You’re so lucky you’re so young and saving your life,” and “This disease just gets worse,” and “It works if you work it,” etc.
I’ve been to enough A.A. meetings to see both active sobriety and active addiction with my own two eyes, but for some reason, having older women take pity on me never felt right because I didn’t even know if it was that bad. I wasn’t blacking out, I didn’t have cravings, and I wasn’t doing things drinking that I wouldn’t do stone-cold sober. It was almost like I was acting the part of the alcoholic mentally, without the compulsion for booze. Could I be in A.A. if all I had was a thinking problem? My old therapist looked at me forlornly after the nth’ session of discussion alcohol and the role it played in my life. “It’s not so black and white, you know,” she said, “I wish there was a community for people like you.”
I haven’t found one yet, and thus this space was, in part, born. Because I need to know if there are other people who just don’t quite fit in, who haven’t fallen to the bottom, who don’t drink at the crack of dawn, who just don’t want to drink. Because as a peer I know in the sober space says, “Not drinking just makes me feel better.” If this sounds like you, by all means say hello. I think we need to find one another. I think we need to talk about this grey area and all that comes with it. I don’t really feel confident that the only way to live a sober life is to dedicate it to a 12-Step Program, but I also think that is one way to do so. I want to live a dry life, but I want to do it in the best way possible for me. Even, if that means it’s a little awkward and vulnerable and messy.
Why would I reach for the bottle if I only knew it would make things harder?
I plan to take a stab at figuring out the answer to this question this summer. But, I know I need to put something between me and the bottle first. I need to keep talking because if I’m going to go three months without drinking, I know I need to stay accountable. Happy day f*cking one to me.