This post was originally published on August 7, 2014.
Huffpo Healthy Living recently published an article about what not to say to a sober person, which is a sure sign that people have moved beyond asking sober folks why they can’t just stop or control themselves. It also suggests that saying things like, “Don’t you want to celebrate with me?” will just make your friend feel bad, as will comments like, “I didn’t invite you because I know you don’t drink.” (Hey, some people need these things pointed out.) I concur with the author on all counts, and would like to add a few other terrible potential comments to the mix.
“Oh, so you’re really doing that?”
When I first stopped drinking, I had what I thought was a heart-to-heart talk with a friend about it. Six months later, we were at a party and she offered me drinks, which I declined, and she responded with a judgmental-disappointed tone. She was judgmentappointed in me and seemed to wish it were just a phase I was in. Luckily, I was taught that I can’t really explain it to people, and I don’t have to.
“Guess you’re driving!”
So, I’m sober, not attending chauffeur school. I mean, yes, of course I will drive. I don’t want anyone drinking and driving, so I’m glad to do it for that reason. But I never want to feel that in order to hang out with my friends, I have to do chores. Also, it brings up the very disturbing question of—who was driving when I was drinking?
“Hold this beer for me.”
This is my least favorite by miles. Obviously it’s a good friend who ventures into this category, or in my case, my boyfriend. He just doesn’t think about it sometimes. The good news is, I don’t care. I just set the drink down. Or stare at him until he realizes what he asked. Or simply say, “No, take it with you.”
I didn’t know how to do this in the beginning. I felt overwhelmed at all the alcohol in the world and I wasn’t sure how to maneuver. This is normal. Sometimes I avoided bars and didn’t go out, sometimes I joined friends at a bar, then left in 15 minutes because I was uncomfortable, sometimes I called other sober friends before going into a bar. I did what I needed to do to take care of myself.
And it’s gotten easier. I’ve discovered mocktails that I like. Sometimes bartenders are enthusiastic when I ask for something fun and non-alc, announcing, “Yeah! I’ve got just the thing!” I’ll order bubbly water with fruit juice splashes that to most people seem to look like a tropical paradise in a glass. People often want to drink what I’m drinking, instead of the other way around. In short, I’m happy that people are becoming sensitive to non-drinkers, but I’m ecstatic that I have learned to care for myself.