My partner doesn’t drink. Drinking didn’t come up on our first date, which was at a BYOB and we didn’t BYO. On our second date, at a comedy club, while I peered over the drink menu, he leaned over. “I don’t drink, but it’s OK if you order a drink.” He said this because he knows the social cues when two people are together and one doesn’t drink. I desperately wanted a beer because I couldn’t decided if I liked him without alcohol, but I ordered a lemonade.
I liked that he didn’t drink. I had had way too many first and second dates that were barely rememberable because my date encouraged another and I would never be the first one to say I’ve had enough.
Eventually I started ordering beers when we were out for dinner or pouring a full glass of wine while we watched TV. We went out with friends and I drank and drank until it was time for us to go home.
“Why doesn’t he drink?” people asked me and I would answer, or maybe I would offer reasoning without any prompting.
He is not a recovering addict. It’s not a religious thing. He doesn’t because he never has.
This answer pulls their head to the side, a visual ‘huh’. They shrug their shoulders and take a sip.
This answer doesn’t often satisfy. “Why would anyone not drink if they didn’t have a reason?” Something as ambiguous as never really have any interest is incomprehensible to most people.
I’ve been worried that my reasoning for this year-long break is also not enough, and I really hate trying to explain it to people. And, it’s not really because people don’t accept my answer, but more so that I am not sure I do.
A month or so ago, I went to a birthday party. I slammed three beers in an hour before dinner. The quaintness of the dive bar, the afternoon light pouring in through the cracks, the $5 Zombie dust, it all swept me up and I gulped down one after another. Then I had two more beers at dinner and another two at a bar before calling an Uber home.
The next day, while fairly hungover, I looked at how much I spent, between all of the beers and the cab home. It made my already queazy stomach flip. I decided to take a break, starting on my 32nd birthday.
So, why I am vowing to a year of sobriety? To save money. To be healthier. To see if I can do that. Those are all the reasons that’ve I said out loud to friends and family when I’ve felt like I’ve needed to justify this experiment. Again, not always for them but for myself.
There are other reasons, too. We had a party a few weeks ago and I was so nervous about opening up my home to so many of our friends. I paced around the house for hours and then poured myself a drink. I stopped myself from drinking the entire glass before guests arrived because I knew that I would drinking and drinking throughout the night to quiet the voices in my head.
I’ve also thought that if my partner left me or if all of my friends decided they no longer wanted to see me, it would be OK because I have alcohol and could drink away the pain.
Anytime alcohol is going to be present at a dinner or party, I think about it all day. As soon as I get my hands on that beer or glass of wine, I gulp half of it down within the first few minutes, relieved to feel the warmness wash down.
Those things scare me. They scare me because there is something hidden underneath them and I need to figure out what that is. I don’t want to drink right now because of that and it’s hard to explain that in a way that makes sense to someone not me.
Why I am a vowing to a year of sobriety? Because I need to remember what Heather is like without alcohol.
The hardest part of sobriety this week: I am not sure there was one. Yes, the celebrations of Chicago would have been nicer with a beer, but also a lot worse. I had a pretty stressful Wednesday evening, the World Series excluded, and thought about alcohol. Instead, I ate.
The best part about sobriety this week: This text message from a friend: “Lemme know how I can best support your not drinking goals. This is a rough time to not be drinking but as cheesy as this is gonna sound I’m proud of you.”