Last Holiday Season I was only a couple of months into this “not drinking thing.” At that time I wasn’t yet Alive AF. In fact, I had no idea what I was. I just knew that I couldn’t drink anymore.
I’m not gonna lie, it was awkward. I had no idea what to say or how to respond when people asked me if I wanted a drink. Instead of simply replying with a “no thank you” I made it really weird.
I assumed that everyone else was as consumed with my drinking as I was. I was under the impression that people would be expecting a grand response and explanation. I would rehearse what to say and when the time came I would spill out “oh, you know, I am just taking a little time off…ummm…from drinking for right now….because ummmm….drinking has become a major influencer in my life and decisions and I ummm….need to make my health and mental sanity a priority right now…and I have just been drinking a little more than I like…but everything’s fine……but I am um finding myself feeling more and more anxious and I ummm.…” No one cared.
Sure, my close friends and family had a few questions. But most people just wanted to know if they could get me something to drink before they went back to doing the thing they were doing. It’s what the host does.
So, this year I am ready to nail the holidays with confidence and I will share a few things that I have learned to make things……less awkward.
When someone asks me if I’d like a drink I simply smile and say no thank you. There is no need for a giant explanation of any kind. With that being said, I do keep in mind that alcohol is sometimes considered an ice breaker. If everyone has a drink in hand somehow it symbolizes to the host (and to everyone else) that the party has started, everyone is having fun, and all is good. It’s not that people are uncomfortable that I am not drinking it’s just the host really wants to make sure everyone is having fun. Thankfully, I have moved past the stage in my life where I feel like it is my responsibility to make sure everyone is having a good time.
BYOFW (bring your own fizzy water). I have a combination of LaCroix, Pelligrino, and Topo Chico with me at all times. The behavior of “drink in hand” is very comforting to me so I still rely on holding something.
I order sparkling water with lime at restaurants (and ask them to put it in a small glass). And, Mocktails are showing up on menus everywhere making it even easier to feel festive. Nothing is worse than drinking a sprite out of a big red plastic cup!
I eat a lot of dessert. In the past I always skipped over dessert-opting for another drink instead. Now, you can find me perusing the dessert table taking in all of those yummy treats that I missed out on for years.
I “need to use the restroom” more than I ever did. Not actually, but I find if something is going to happen that will be weird I just….escape. Usually, by the time I get back the scene is reset and I can resume as Alive AF.
I focus on other non drinkers. Shortly after I stopped drinking we were scheduled to go to a Guns N Roses concert (don’t judge). Not just any concert but one with the whole band in tact (Axl AND Slash). At the time that we bought these tickets I was still drinking. I was so nervous about how I would do this alcohol free. How could I have fun? Would I be able to dance? Would the music still be awesome? Would I be the only person not drinking? But then I remembered that both Axl and Slash were recovering addicts and had been sober for many years. If they could have fun at their concert I most definitely could have fun at their concert! I focused in on how awesome their sobriety was and how cool it was that they could put out the kind of music they did so many years later. It was SO FUN. I remembered that music is life giving, concerts are extremely entertaining (especially when I don’t miss half of the show standing in line for drinks), and being trashed at concerts is not fun.
I look around. When I was submersed in my drinking I assumed that EVERYONE else was drinking too. I am still shocked at dinners, parties, events, etc. to find that there are so many other people not drinking. How did I miss this before?
I don’t go. If I am invited to a function with people that I may not know that well, that is focused around “drinks,” and that doesn’t feel like it would add a lot of value….I just don’t go. For me, that means skipping out on uncomfortable conversations, standing until my feet hurt, and eating crappy bar food. I am 100% fine with that. Sometimes the answer is just “no.”
And finally, I stop overthinking. In the early days there were times that I wasn’t sure what was happening. Was I an alcoholic? Was I a non drinker? Was I void of fun? Do my friends hate me? Am I ever going to drink again? When will I feel better? I was obsessed with trying to figure out what this all meant for me. It took some time for my brain to rewire. I soon learned to focus on one minute at a time. I would repeat to myself “in this minute I am not drinking.” I made no grand promises and I just worked hard at focusing on that one minute. The only one we have.
Happy Holidays the Festive AF Way!