“Thanks, but I don’t drink…”
How this one little phrase almost took me OUT in early sobriety
What started out as a napkin was now a knotted rope of white linen in my lap. I ground my foot into the floor and did my best to ignore the jackhammer in my chest.
Three stops away. Now two. Then it was my turn and a shadow loomed over my shoulder. I tried to swallow and heard a dry click at the back of my throat.
This was it. What I’d been dreading for months had finally arrived. I took a deep breath and plastered on a smile. I stared into the face of my enemy.
“And what can I bring you from the bar, sweetie?”
There’s plenty to worry about and obsess over in early sobriety. Will you be chained to meetings for the rest of your life? Does the smell or sight of booze make you want to dive right back into a bottle?
But believe it or not, what struck the deepest chord of fear in me was how I would tell people that I didn’t drink anymore. What would they think? What would they say?
I gnawed over this nagging concern for months after I quit drinking. It freaked me out so badly, that I decided the best way to tackle my problem was to get rid of it altogether.
Nobody could ask me why I didn’t drink if I never left the house, right?
For almost a year after I got sober, my entire world was the four walls of my home. If I was forced into going out and being social, I made sure it was in alcohol-free zones only. End of story.
I let my fear control me. All because I didn’t know how to “break it” to people that I’d quit drinking. After all, if booze was the focus of every get-together for me, it must be the same for everyone else.
Alcohol was still running the show, even though I was no longer drinking it.
Avoiding places with a bar worked just fine. Until a family member came to visit from another state and insisted on going to a steak house. With a bar.
The entire way there, I ran different response options through my mind…
I could go the funny route: “Why don’t I drink? Well, I’m allergic. Yup, I tend to break out in handcuffs when I’m around alcohol.”