This really weird thing happened to me last Friday. I mean I did it, but it also happened to me. I’ll explain.
I started attending this discussion group thingie — part of my quest to get a life, socially, which I observed very early on in this quitting drinking thing was going to be important. But anyway. The discussion group was a BYOB event, and people brought snacks and stuff. I had a little bit of anxiety because I knew there would be wine, and I’d probably want to drink some. But I’m getting used to the idea that I just need to stock up with my own non-alcoholic drinks and kind of enter these things in a “state of readiness.”
So we’re settling in and talking about who has what to drink, who’s sharing, and whether anyone should make a run to the boozeteria in the building and buy more. There’s gin. There’s beer. There’s wine. “Well I don’t drink, so I’m good.”
Whaaat? Who said that?
Oh. Holy shit. It was me.
I’ve been trying to figure out what happened there. I remember a tiny pause before it fell out of my mouth, but it was only a tiny pause. It was kind of scary but empowering at the same time. The thing is, I really didn’t think too hard about it. Mostly I just said it. It didn’t feel particularly momentous. Which maybe means something.
I am working toward five months sober now, and I’m realizing that much of “month four” was very anxious. I decided to keep going past my initial commitment of 100 days, and those next 30 days or so were… well yeah. Anxious. Not white knuckle anxious, but just a lot of me wondering: “Can I keep doing this? Do I want to keep doing this?”
So now I’m thinking that when I said “I don’t drink,” it felt pretty natural. Far out. It may be a sign that I’m moving my identity from “someone who’s trying to quit drinking,” to “someone who doesn’t drink.” That isn’t something that’s happening over night. I’ve regarded it as an open-ended thing from the start. It’s been the only way I could do this without the “Oh my god what do you mean never drink again?” panic setting in.
But it’s also been unsettling to have it so open-ended. I think that explains the difficulty of Month Four. Anyway, it was kind of cool to have a moment where the destination of that journey felt like something real. I’ve been taking it on faith that this sobriety thing actually might have something to offer. (Otherwise you’re just perpetually miserable that you are being deprived.) My “I don’t drink” declaration felt like some faith rewarded — some real progress. I needed that.