I had the thoughts that many probably do…”Will they still want to hang out with me?” “Will they think that I am no fun?”
All the worries. The anxiety. But years later, I’m happy to say all those worries were unfounded. I still have most of the same friends. Even though I don’t drink. A testament to the quality of my friends.
I have a long history of alcoholism in my family. My dad, my grandparents, many more. I didn’t have my first drink until I was 21 and away at college. But, I quickly made up for lost time. As an adult I fell in love with beer. I collected IPAs as a hobby, but would drink spiked seltzers and sweet cocktails at times too. I did many things I would like to forget. I probably did others that I actually did forget because I was too far gone to remember. It’s not something I am proud of. I am grateful I never hurt anyone.
I gave alcohol up a few times. Once when I was pregnant. Another when I thought I was too dependent. And the last time I put the bottle aside was several years ago, when I decided I was serious about losing weight and wanted to see how much giving up drinking would help. I was surprised not only by the weight loss, but also by how little I eventually missed drinking.
Now, years later, I go to wine night and have a mocktail. I am sometimes the sober buddy for another friend who is attending but not drinking. I recently went on a wine tour for a friend’s birthday and just watched others partake. I smelled the wine. I touched a few little sips with my lips. But in the end I just enjoyed the company. I enjoyed people enjoying themselves. I held everyone’s bags and jackets while they took vineyard photos. (I don’t usually take photos with drinks since I am a teacher and we are under higher moral scrutiny by many.) I ate a lot of cheese and crackers. Win win.
Being the all-time designated driver is not a bad thing. In some ways you can be the hero. Saying no to what isn’t healthy for you can be a superpower. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am and value me as a person and not just as a drinking buddy.