In the first few days after getting sober the first thought was “how am I going to do anything fun without alcohol?” Honestly, it was a pretty legit question. The last time that I went out and “partied’ without alcohol was when I was 13 and my weekend nights revolved around playing tackle football in basements with my friends, ordering Dominos and watching Friday the 13th movies. After that, going to parties not only included alcohol, but began to revolve around it as well. Who is driving to pick up beer, who’s going to get it for everyone and how much should we get were the questions that replaced “do you want regular or thin crust pizza?”
As the first few days turned into weeks and then months, my original question got put on the back burner. The thought that I was starting to have was “will I ever be able to be around alcohol in any social setting?” I knew that at that point, even just 90 days into sobriety that my life was so much better. With that knowledge, I also knew that I couldn’t give up this new life that I had just begun to form. Having said all of that, I still wanted to be me – social, out with friends, enjoying being in my mid-20’s. And there was my dilemma – how do I do both of those things at the same time. At 4 months sober, I got an invite to a friend’s birthday party. I told myself that it was rude to turn down a very nice invitation but the truth was that I was so curious to see what it would be like to be around alcohol. Before leaving to head to the party (it was at a bar by the way) I was filled with confidence. I was feeling good, looking good and I couldn’t wait to show everyone how great I was doing. That confidence evaporated as soon as I walked into the party and was in a bar for the first time as a sober person. My chest tightened, my hands got sweaty and I immediately did not want to be there. Right at that moment, I decided I would say hi to my friends, wish my buddy a happy birthday and leave. I wanted to say hi to everyone, let my friend know that I appreciated the invite, wish him well and beyond that, if I was being honest with myself, there wasn’t anything else there for me to do. When I left the bar, it was like I could breathe again. I felt safe as soon as I left and felt even safer with every step that I took back home. As soon as I got back home I knew two things: that sucked and I feel like I’m going to need a better plan if I want to be able to be at a party with alcohol.
After some more field research on this matter, I have come to this conclusion for myself. When it comes to going out and being around alcohol, I don’t have to be there. I can always say no to an invitation. I have learned that when someone invites me somewhere, it doesn’t mean that I am under contract to go, it just means that the person extending the invitation enjoys being around me (don’t blame them) and they would love for me to be there. If I say no, I am not ruining a relationship, I am just respecting myself enough to not put myself in a dangerous situation. I realize that there is a myriad of events in life that will involve alcohol. Weddings, engagement parties, bachelor/bachelorettes, work events. The list goes on and on. My feeling is this, if there is a legitimate reason for me to be there, I have no problem going. When I do go however, I have a plan in place. Depending on the event, I have a set time for when I am going to leave. That can be 2 hours after I walk in or at midnight for example. In addition, I always try and go with someone or at the very least have at least one person there who knows that I am sober and don’t drink. I always tell the person that I am with that if I am feeling uncomfortable, I am just simply going to leave and I will text them that I have left. If I don’t have anyone that can accompany me and I have to be at this event, I call someone before I go in, text them for accountability during and then call them after.
This plan has helped me so many times in so many situations. It has allowed me to be sober, present and at every party that I choose to go to.