Next Saturday I am going to a huge party. There will be lots of people and lots of drinks. I am already stressed about it. I know that because my neck hurts just thinking about it. Since I decided not to drink alcohol again I have been considering different strategies how to avoid the party: I could get sick: catch a cold, get the flu... But it is probably not likely with 20 degrees outside and low humidity. Or I could just say that I cannot go: Too unstable and anxious. But I am not sure I am too unstable and anxious. I am just worried that it will be awkward and I will feel uncomfortable not drinking. Several years ago I went to a speech therapist (I stutter) and whenever I would mention situations that I was afraid of facing, she would ask me: What is the worst thing that can happen? Is it likely? Well, for next Saturday, my answer would probably be: The worst thing that can happen is that I will feel like shit for an entire evening and end up driving home after having distanced myself from every single person in the room because of my social awkwardness. Basically.
For the next couple of days, I will have a chance to try out my non-drinking strategies at social events. I am organising a workshop with lots of people that I know. Every night we will be having dinner at local restaurants with wine and beer. I feel ok about not drinking but I still have to carefully plan what to say and how to say it. I think that I will probably just be saying that ‘I have stopped drinking because I get quite depressed afterwards’. It is a group of people that I know fairly well and it should work doing it like that.
I’ve realised that I am more comfortable saying that my problem is about the period following the intake of alcohol rather than the actual event of drinking. I think it’s because it sounds like I am more in control. If I say that I stopped drinking alcohol because I drink too much and behave irresponsibly, then it is my lack of self-control that is the problem. By contrast, if I say that I stopped drinking because of my post-drinking depression, then I might have been in complete control during the drinking event but I simply feel bad about it afterwards. But the truth is that the problem is both: I actually do get way more drunk than everybody else and sometimes acts irresponsibly. And I feel insanely bad about it afterwards. So the conclusion should probably be that I tell people the actual reason for stop drinking and not the version that puts me in control.