The decision to stop drinking alcohol came from the realisation that I am incapable of controlling my binge drinking and that I get overly depressed and anxious afterwards. And since it is probably not realistic that I stop participating in social events from now on, I will have to endure parties completely sober while everybody else gets drunk. This is one of the aspects of quittinng alcohol that I am most worried about. Just thinking about sitting at a dinner table without drinking wine stresses me out. What should I say to the other people sitting at the table? What about toasting? In water? Should I bring my own non-alcoholic beer? It will probably be awkward if I arrive at a huge party with a plastic bag filled with non-alcoholic beer that I bought and which I insist on drinking instead of the temperet Merlot that was carefully selected for the dinner. I will undoubtedly disappoint both the hosts and the other guests who expect of me to join the party by drinking alcohol.
Yesterday, I had a chance to put all those worries to the test. I was at a huge party with lots of people whom I don’t know. A proper dinner party with a chef introducing the food and waitresses serving wine at the table. I have been thinking about the party quite a bit since I decided to stop drinking alcohol. And getting myself worked up about the awkward situations that would undoubtedly occur because of my weird sober outsider-position. I’ve staged through lots of scenarios in my head and they all had me standing as a slightly socially awkward outsider looking at the party going on around me.
But it went ok! I was really nervous before getting to the party. In the car on my way there I had to listen to a 19 minutes breathing exercise to focus my thoughts. When I got to the party, people were standing outside having drinks. I was offered one but said no – and didn’t get anything else. It was a bit stressful standing there and I couldn’t help think ahead of the dinner and partying to come later. It was a really packed room with people sitting very close and having to speak loud to be heard. Which was actually fine because it made it a bit less awkward. But it didn’t take long for me to relax and focus more on talking with people sitting next to me. I never really managed to let go of the thought that I was off in a way buy not drinking but it really didn’t constitute a problem. At least not to me. As the hours went by, it became a bit more like any other party. With the only exception that I was clear in my head – and could therefore also measure the increasing drunkenness of many of the other people. Although I was never completely comfortable in the situation, there were several periods where I almost forgot that I didn’t drink – and that I was the odd one out.