Being the sober party girl

Being the sober party girl

Everyone looks forward to the weekends. That's a no-brainer. For those who enjoy a libation-filled weekend, a big part of the weekend plans often include get togethers -- neighbourhood parties, dinner parties, meeting for drinks on a patio. Like every other drinker I've ever known, I often couldn't wait to start sipping my favourite alcoholic bevies. With it came relaxation and unbridled conversation. 

"I'm ready for a drink," was not an uncommon part of my weekend vernacular. A phrase I still hear almost daily by friends, acquaintances and co-workers who still rely on booze for relaxation and, well, fun.  

It wasn't unusual for a few afternoon glasses of wine on a summer day to turn into a late night of revelry until I eventually stumbled or cabbed home to pass out until morning. But ugh, the mornings. Even if I had no regrets over my previous night's behaviour (rare), the hangover always, without exception, caused me to regret drinking.

Fast forward to today. I'm writing on a Sunday morning. I've been up since 7 a.m., full of energy since I stepped out of bed. Made my coffee, read the paper as I relaxed in my backyard and went on an hour-long walk with my dog while, presumably, the Saturday night partiers continued to sleep. Nobody would have ever guessed that I'd been to a party the night before. 

Parties are one of the trickiest aspects for anyone adopting a sober lifestyle after decades of social drinking. Booze was always an essential ingredient to having fun for me. Time flew by at parties! Everyone (including myself) seemed just so damn fascinating and I didn't ever want the night to end. Now, when I'm invited to a party, I squirm. I wonder will I be able to enjoy myself? More specifically:

  1. Can I handle not drinking among other drinkers?
  2. Will I be able to make good conversation with enough people so that I'm not standing alone half the night like an idiot?
  3. How long will I be able to stay before counting down to the minute when I can leave without looking rude to the hostess?

I generally don't go to parties anymore so that I don't have to face those concerns. It's easy -- people generally don't invite me to parties anymore (I'm the boring non-drinker now).   

Last night was the perfect opportunity to finally answer these questions because the hostess is one of my best friends and I've now been sober for almost eight months. My friends have come to accept that I don't drink and I, myself, have become accustomed to the non-drinking lifestyle. 

My plan was to stay until midnight. FYI, nights pass by at a much slower pace when you're not drinking. You will never look at the time at one in the morning and exclaim, HOLY COW, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ALREADY THIS LATE. You're more likely to exclaim inwardly, Holy shitbag! It's only 9 p.m. and I'm ready to put on my pyjamas. 

So, here are my answers to the three questions above, the morning after my party experience:

  • Can I handle not drinking among other drinkers?

    Yes. I had zero desire to drink wine, my old go-to. I'm so used to not drinking now that the thought of having a glass of wine didn't even enter my head. However, I did enjoy drinking a non-alcoholic glass of sparkling wine in a wine glass. And, later, a bottle of non-alcoholic beer. It was enough to mimic the experience of drinking without any of the buzz. 

    • Will I be able to make good conversation with enough people so that I'm not standing alone half the night like an idiot?

      This wasn't a huge drinking crowd, so the conversation flowed quite easily among all of us. While I knew most of the people at the party, none of them were close friends (other than the host). So, conversation did effort. Thankfully, one of the guests was a writer, like me. We had plenty in common and chatted easily about our experiences and aspirations in the industry. 

      • How long will I be able to stay before counting down to the minute when I can leave without looking rude to the hostess?

        I had no problem staying longer than an hour. Did I stay until midnight like I'd hoped? Not quite. The party began at 6 p.m. (I was there on the dot!) and I left at 11 p.m. Not bad, eh? The last hour, from 10 to 11 p.m. was a bit tough to stick out. The conversation was a little harder to flow, but on the upside, those guests who were drinking were able to pick up the slack by this point (their buzz was kicking in). 

        When I got into my car at 11 that night, I was excited to get back home. I couldn't wait to chat with my boyfriend (who is three hours behind as he lives in British Columbia), have a cup of my bedtime tea and read a book before falling asleep. I'd also begun planning my Sunday morning... newspaper, yoga, walk, write a blog post.

        Am I now the boring non-drinker friend? I guess that depends on one's priorities. Yes, I leave parties early. Yes, I go to bed before midnight on Saturday nights. So, that would likely put me in the boring file. I guess the difference is that I'm ok with it. My perfect weekend formula has changed dramatically. I no longer look forward to the next big party or get together. I get excited about my mornings and planning the day ahead.

        In short, I live for my days. Not my nights. 

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