Soylent Green Wrote:
> I became virtually tee-total two and a half years
> ago when I was diagnosed with a chronic liver
> condition (not alcohol related). Although I do
> not miss it on a day to day basis, I still find
> social occasions difficult. There reaches a point
> in the evening when you feel a chasm between you
> and your 'merry' friends, whose loud, slightly
> incoherent banter is no longer amusing to the
> stone cold sober. At this point I usually bow out
> gracefully, but it leaves me feeling isolated. You
> have to be brave to go to a party and not drink,
> especially as unlike quitting smoking, no one
> congratulates you for giving up drinking. They
> are more likely to make a joke about it and
> commiserate without sympathy or empathy.
I totally agree, and this has been a common theme throughout the quit-lit I've been reading. It's been such a revelation, in as much as disclosing to me my own complicity in the alcohol brainwash that (Western) society undergoes. Despite alcohol being a highly addictive and harmful drug
, for which there is no safe minimum
, its consumption is actively encouraged and pushed onto others. Advertising for it is everywhere. Greeting cards are adorned with it. As children it's omnipresent, and kids know of it as a 'special grown up liquid' that only adults drink, and therefore something to look forward to when they are themselves of that age.
One of the triggers that prompted my booze break happened at work drinks in the run up to Christmas. I was talking to a colleague whom I discovered doesn't drink. I asked her if it was a 'religious thing' (embarrassing point #1 - it was none of my business, and she didn't owe me an explanation!), and when she told me that it was simply because she didn't like the taste, I then proceeded to tell her about all the alcoholic drinks that were 'actually quite tasty', and even encourage her to try mine - WTF?! This seemed perfectly normal behaviour at the time (probably because I was tipsy), but afterwards I did look back and think it troubling that I was trying to push alcohol on someone who was perfectly happy without it. I imagine that some part of this was due to the fact that I was envious/incredulous of her happiness, as I was relying on alcohol to give me mine. Also, alcohol - ethanol - is a vile tasting substance that can kill you if you drink it in its pure form. It only 'tastes nice' when we mask the flavour and/or drink enough that we develop a tolerance/taste for it. She was right to stick to her unpoisoned orange juice!
I've read that if you tell people you've stopped drinking, you find that - without prompt or invitation - many people start telling you of the many reasons why they don't need to do so themselves. How they can take it or leave it, only drink a few times a week, really like the taste, etc... I experienced a bit of this myself last week, and I can't complain at all because I'm convinced I did the exact thing myself. I know that despite previously finding IPAs really foul, I'd got to the point where I was beginning to like some less-hoppy styles. I also found other people's non-drinking a threat to my own drinking, and I'm pretty certain that on more than one occasion, I've repeated that awful "I don't really trust people who don't drink" phrase - as if imbibing a mind-altering substance that removes your inhibitions makes you *more* trustworthy??
I haven't been out a great deal since I stopped drinking, certainly not to any proper parties. I'm a bit apprehensive at the thought - not because I think I'll be tempted to drink (that happened last night when my toddler was being an absolute nightmare) - but because of what you've described, that being on a different level to your peers... nobody wants to be the odd one out eh? I'm not pregnant so I have no 'excuse' not to drink. How funny is that, that I need an excuse 'not to'. You never have to justify your reasons to not snort a line of coke, and nowadays it's perfectly acceptable to turn down an offered cigarette.
Honestly, the last couple of months have been such an eye-opener to me!