When you choose to quit drinking alcohol, don't expect much support. Unless you're an alcoholic. At least, that has been my experience so far. People get it if you quit because you're an alcoholic and your life is a hot mess, as a result. They support you and encourage you. That doesn't happen if you're a social drinker who has decided to quit.
I know I'm not an alcoholic, nor have I ever been one. I've always been a social drinker, and someone who enjoys a glass of wine (or two) after work most days of the week. While I can probably make a strong case for having a history of drinking more than the average social drinker, I admit I've never had what most people consider a drinking problem. And, therein lies the problem. Almost every time I announce I've quit drinking alcohol, I get a negative reaction ranging from "Why?" (with a sneer) to "Forever?" (with a guffaw), and my favourite, "I liked you better when you drank." Gee, thanks.
It bothered me a lot, at first. I couldn't understand why I had to explain myself over and over. I mean, the memo on alcohol is out, right? It's not healthy, it packs on the pounds, it inflates every restaurant bill, it eliminates your common sense (and can lead to some very bad decisions). Yet, for some reason I frequently need to explain my "why".
On another level, I get their apprehension and defensiveness. I used to be just like them, after all. I could barely go two days without a glass of wine! Back then, when I crossed paths with someone who had given up cold turkey, it kinda freaked me out. I think that was because, deep down, I always knew I should drink less or not at all. But, damn, I liked my drink. A teetotaler was a slap in the face. A wake up call that maybe there's a better way. I didn't want to hear it. Until I was ready to hear it.
The social acceptance of drinking, and to a large extent over-drinking, is so prevalent that the non-drinker has become a bit of an anomaly in many social circles. I won't go so far as to say that I have lost my friends. That wouldn't be accurate. But, I would say that I feel a little bit like I'm in no man's land. I'm caught between the world of social drinking where I spent the last couple of decades and the world of, um, sober people? Is there a world of sober people? My point is, I don't know where this is leading me or where, exactly, I belong. Do I simply fit into the drinker world as one of the few sober people who goes home early because, OMG, time passes slowly when you're sober. Or do I find a new happy world of non-drinkers who get a bad rap for being the boring ones (who leave the party early.)
The reality of the newly sobered-up is that your friends will be confused and frustrated by you. Even if they say you're doing a great thing, they won't necessarily know what to do with you. You used to be one of them. Now you're not. They know you're making a good, healthy decision, which reminds them that they're, well, not.
I'm sure there's a way through this murky path. I don't know what it is, quite yet. Committing to a life of clarity requires serious will power and faith that you're on the right track. We will find a new way to belong. I'll let you know when I get there.