When someone stops drinking, and people around them notice there’s a change, how to react can be a hard balancing act. It’s kind of like when you meet a friend that you haven’t seen in awhile, and they’ve lost a considerable amount of weight. You can tell that she’s lost weight, but why? Is she sick? Has she lost weight because of emotional distress? Is she happy about her new weight; is it your place to ask? If you say, “WOW! You look great!”, is she going to reply with, “Did I look bad before?” Is your comment going to push her towards eating more, or eating less? If you don’t comment on her weight-loss, does she internalize the silence with, “I guess it didn’t matter”, and go back to the old harmful eating habits?
The same holds true with sobriety. When you stop drinking, if you start looking healthier, will people notice? If you confide in them that you quit drinking, will you get interrogated as to why you quit? Were you sick? Did you quit because of emotional distress? If someone says that I seem happy, was I not happy before? If they comment on my lack of drinking, will it push me to drink again? If no one notices, do you then internalize the silence with, “I guess it didn’t matter”, and do you then go back to the old harmful drinking habits?
My older brother who is two years my senior, called me one Friday night to tell me that he had a new job starting, and that he was proud of this career change. As we talked about his higher pay and better benefits, I heard the sound of him popping open another beer. I confided to my brother my big news: I quit drinking. My brother became very serious, “Just how much were you drinking, sis?” and I didn’t know how to answer….
I’ve since come to realize that the number doesn’t matter, whether it’s the number of pounds on a scale, or the number of drinks in a night. In either case, it’s a question that really only matters to me. As I look back on photos of me, in my 30s and 40s, I can recall that when the photo was taken, I thought to myself that I looked FAT and OLD… yes, that’s how I felt in those photos of a skinnier, younger version of me! If only I could be that “fat” again!
So when it comes to answering that question about how much you drank, how do you respond? People will want to know the answer, because, in my view, they are looking to evaluate whether they are better or worse off than you were…
I’m not as bad as her; I would only drink x amount, not xx amoun…
I only drink on weekends, so I’m not as bad as her…
I only drink beer, so I’m not as bad as her
They may be right if we are comparing apples to apples. It’s like comparison shopping, but with more serious results.
Consider toilet paper, and the toilet paper crisis of 2020. If you needed toilet paper, you took what you could find- whether it was the 1 ply sandpaper or the 2 ply cotton-soft, extra strength stuff. At the end of the -er- job, they both performed as expected, right? When it comes to drinking, whether you were sipping a fine merlot, swigging down a cold beer, or concocting a fancy cocktail laced with salty rim and a freshly cut lime- all three drinks did the same thing- they landed you at the steps of despair, with blood shot eyes and an expanding waist band.
HOW you got there, and an inventory of the alcohol in your bloodstream does not really matter at all… you. were. there.
How did I answer the question of how much I was drinking? I was drinking enough to know that I wanted a better life.
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you go Alcohol-Free? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions