I've declined multiple events with people near and dear because there would be free-flowing alcohol in my presence. Back then, I was not at a point where I trusted myself to be in a space where my free will would be challenged. As I've continued in this journey, I've started to venture to places where alcohol is present. I've attended several weddings, sat at bars, traveled alone, vacationed with family and friends- no all-inclusive resorts yet, and I have managed not to take a drink.
My early decisions to not be present when alcohol is present created uncomfortable situations, but overall, I'm glad I didn't shrink at the decision to put my needs first.
Thanksgiving began a string of events where others would be openly drinking around me.
At our first Thanksgiving stop, there was no alcohol in sight. Our second thanksgiving stop was a totally different story. There was plenty of alcohol to go around. I quickly poured myself the non-alcoholic punch so no one would offer me the other.
In December I attended a retirement party, where everyone was raving about the Sangria. I stuck with my pineapple and cranberry, with a splash of ginger beer- which is as close to as I'd thought I'd ever get to a mocktail.
Finally, the culminating event- the work conference. The in-person work conference where we'd be seeing each other for the first time in almost three years. Finally meeting the people I just started working with months before the Pandemic started, in person. The drinking started as soon as we landed. Lunch. Dinner. Lunch. Liquor Store runs. Dinner. Fire Pit. Close the bar. Lunch. Dinner. Fire Pit.
I found excitement in hearing about their plans to find a liquor store nearby. I looked forward to hearing the stories of "That one time..." and "Remember when..?" once the alcohol loosened their lips.
Sitting around the fire pit, I grieved choosing not to drink with my coworkers.
During that grieving process, the thought crossed my mind, "What if...". I allowed myself to sit with the thought and when it got to be too much, I hit the group with an Irish Goodbye.
I felt myself missing the sense of connection that drinking together brought. I missed the way drinking would ease my nerves in a group of people I only know via email and MSTeams.
By the end of the week, I was asked if was I pregnant, more than once, because I wasn't drinking. I found myself ordering and not enjoying a mocktail or two, when I could've and should've just left it at "no-thank you.". I was exhausted from all the networking and socializing, however, I didn't have to spend the following day attempting to retrace my drunken steps or retract my drunken words.
At the airport before our flight home, another coworker said to me "Choosing not to drink is such a courageous act." I appreciated that. A job well done, for a person totally invested in her recovery.
What are your boundaries surrounding events where alcohol will be served?
If you are in recovery, are you still avoiding ALL people, places, and things that were triggers for your addiction?