Before I became sober I had a pretty lame excuse for not doing so. I used it as an idiotic way of justifying my continuation of drinking. I would tell myself “If I quit, people will treat me differently. If they know I don’t drink they will treat me like what I am- an alcoholic. If I quit completely that will reflect my problem just as bad as if I continue drinking- I might as well just try to manage this problem.” I told this bullshit to myself for years.
So then I quit and as it turned out people did treat me differently. They now liked me better and respected me more. There was something magical about passing over the 6th month mark of sobriety. People started to treat me like I was successful at becoming sober rather than just a guy that quit alcohol. My interactions with people greatly improved. That does a lot for both your ego and your feeling of self worth.
Actors pretending to be friends
But I was living in an area where people knew me for years, they were my close friend. What would happen if I moved to an area where no one knew me? People in my home town knew how much of a problem I had with alcohol and they knew the importance of my sobriety so the “not drinking thing” was never really an issue. But what if I moved to an area where no one knew me? How would I meet people? What would I do if they wanted to go out for drinks? How would they react when I told them I was sober? Would they no longer want to hang out with me? You can’t just have strictly sober friends- you have to have a mix.
Well I got to experience just that. Last month I was offered a job opportunity in a whole new state, whole new city. Moving there I literally knew one person. I was starting from scratch when it came to friends. I had some anxiety about meeting people but I’ve been through worse so I told myself I would get over it. I got on Meetup and signed up for a few groups in my area and went to a few meetings.
- The first was a film studies group where we met at a person’s apartment and watched Strangers on a Train. People were having wine, chex mix and a pretty tasty vegetable tray.
- The second was a get together at a cigar bar where we smoked cigars, talked and people had drinks.
- The third was a trivia/karaoke night at an Irish Pub. Sadly, with sobriety my trivia skills did not improve. We died a slow, embarrassing death of trivial manslaughter.
These were all fun events and I met some very nice people- some of whom are now my friends. But something very interesting happened. After each meetup I was asked by at least one person to go out for drinks later that week. This was after spending hours with these people- drinking only coke/root beer- and they NEVER noticed I wasn’t drinking. In fact, once I told some of them that I was sober they were shocked at the fact they never noticed that I had not been drinking all night. Equally as interesting, though, was the fact that once they knew I was sober- they never changed their offer. They still wanted to hang out. The drinking wasn’t the activity- it was hanging out with friends.
This makes no sense.
How many years did I give myself the lame excuse of “People will treat me differently”? In hindsight it was an idiotic and misguided excuses- but at the time it was a very real and legitimate excuse for me. But people do treat me different- they treat me better. This won’t be the case one hundred percent of the time, people will sometimes treat you in a way that doesn’t make you feel great about your decision to refrain from alcohol but as the saying goes “The ones that matter don’t care and the ones that care don’t matter”!