Our office is having a Spring party this evening that coincides with a film festival currently happening in the city. Delivery folks have been walking by my office all morning with flowers, glasses, utensils, decorations… and enough alcohol to fill a pool with. Turning the corner to use the restroom, I found myself face to face with a wall of cases containing reds, whites, sparklings, whiskey, etc.
Needless to say, I’m not staying for the event. I made up an excuse and am sneaking out to head home before it begins. And I’m not at all concerned about it or feeling left out in the slightest. 10 days ago, I would have stayed and would have been thrilled by the idea of never ending FREE booze. I’m not going home because I’m worried I’ll drink if I don’t. I’m going home because this event seems like it would be absolutely and unbearably boring without alcohol so I don’t feel bad about leaving.
But I did start thinking about other types of events that I would and should want to attend. Friend’s birthdays. Holiday get togethers. Wedding receptions of people I really care about. There are going to be things that I absolutely have to be present for eventually. And the thought of doing it sans lubrication sort of terrifies me. There is nothing on the calendar as of now and I’m doing my absolute best to keep things free and clear for myself in these early stages. But I know I can only be reclusive for so long.
Got an email reply from a friend yesterday about something I need to do for him and he closed with, “Let’s get drinks very soon! We need to catch up!” I immediately recoiled and a wave of anxiety rolled over me. DRINKS? I CAN’T GET DRINKS! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!?!? MY LIFE IS HORRIBLE! NORMAL PEOPLE GET DRINKS! I WANT TO BE A NORMAL PERSON WHO GOES AND GETS JUST A FEW DRINKS. Well, crazy alcoholic. First of all, stop lying to yourself. You don’t want to get a few drinks. You want to get ALL OF THE DRINKS. You want to be completely trashed. So, obviously drinks are not an option. Try this: Ask to meet a coffee house. Or at the very least, a restaurant that serves alcohol for him so you can gorge on French fries and Diet Coke to make it through. Yeah but he’s going to be drunk and I’m going to be jealous! Okay. The truth is, most people around you don’t get drunk at happy hour. Only you do. Or, try this: Just always be busy and apologize that your schedules just aren’t matching up to grab those drinks (although this is more isolation, more of the same). Or try this: Tell the friend you aren’t drinking for a while but would they like to do something else that doesn’t involve alcohol? Like a movie? At least then you can sit in silence and not be forced to have to come up with things to say because communicating without courage sucks. WTF? These are things I think.
What it comes down to is this: I don’t want to hang out with you unless I can be drinking. And that is a really HUGE and FUCKED UP problem. I remember last time I went through this. The only way to fix it was to unlearn everything. To force myself into situations that made me anxious or uncomfortable but were normal situations to be in socially. Each time I did, I felt the resistance becoming less and my sober social muscles getting stronger. So I know what to do. I just don’t want to do it. Yet.
10 days in and here is where I’m at: I don’t want to drink. At all. Which is great. But I don’t want to do the things that need doing unless I can have a drink. But I don’t want a drink. So either I a.) don’t do the things that need doing or I b.) do the things that need doing anyway or I c.) drink and then do the things that need doing. None of these seem like options I’d like to choose and there is no d.) None of the above, to pick instead.