Advice for Friends
16 February. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Me and my daughter, proving you can still have a lot of fun without drinking!
When you find out a friend or loved one decides to give up or no longer drinks alcohol it can be a tricky time. Do you talk to them about it or ignore it? If not dealt with, it can become the elephant in the room. I avoided people for a long time in my early months of sobriety. I found everything challenging. People didn’t get how hard it was for me, and although I’m not expecting them to, sometimes a little understanding goes a long way. However, if you’re the one giving up you do need to remember if they aren’t going through the same thing, how can they really get it?
I remember taking the kids ice skating in the town centre before Christmas one year. I’d wanted to keep it just us and the kids but then we thought of inviting my in-laws. That was fine, they might not have completely understood, but they were trying so I didn’t mind too much. Unfortunately that then changed as someone we knew overheard us talking and rather than brushing it off, they were then invited too (and not by me). That upset me, it wasn’t what I wanted and suddenly it became a bigger thing than I had anticipated. It was just meant to be quiet. It was enough to make me want to stay at home, but I was worried I would have looked rude. I should have followed my instincts or at least told the other people that it was meant to be family only. Nowadays, I have learned that on occasion my feelings need to come first but I generally don’t like to cause upset, at least not to others, so I just went along with it. The problem was, the other people that came were totally insensitive to my situation, and while we were getting hot chocolate, they went to the beer tent. It was really early days for me and although I never had a problem with beer that really made me wobble. My husband and I just went into Costa, as it was the only place you couldn’t see the beet tent and people weren’t drinking. Actually we didn’t just go, I practically ran there to hide. We still had a lovely time with the kids, but it was much harder than I had envisaged it.
That evening I just went home and cried. My husband held me and said all the right things, but I just didn’t know what to do with myself. It wasn’t just unexpectedly being faced with alcohol on an evening out, it was more that it was a Saturday, a day of the week when I didn’t need an excuse to drink. The day of the week that wherever you were it was meant to be okay to drink, and I couldn’t. Being out and coming home to not drinking was strange and hard to deal with. Being confronted with other people drinking just reminded me that I couldn’t, and at that point, it felt very much that I was losing something rather than gaining my life back. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t watch the TV, without that wine, I felt like I’d lost my purpose. What was the point, if I couldn’t get through the day and have the reward I was looking for.
It’s taken far more hard work that I would have liked to reinvent myself without alcohol in my life, but do you know what, it is so worth it and I am glad I won the battle in the end.
Other people’s attitudes and actions have been one of the hardest things to cope with, one of the biggest things to rock the boat so to speak. It’s not just when people say the wrong thing, it’s actually probably worse when they don’t say anything at all.
Here’s my little list of pointers for dealing with friends who are alcohol free.
• Please offer me a drink. Just because I don’t drink alcohol anymore, doesn’t mean I am no longer thirsty.
• Don’t assume what I want to do. Ask me.
• Don’t assume what I can do or can’t do. Ask me.
• Don’t talk about me with other friends. I already feel like I’m the object of everyone’s interests so please don’t make it worse.
• If I’ve told you about my problem, respect that, and keep my trust.
• Invite me out, and let me make the decision of whether I want to go or not.
• Put up with me changing my mind too. Sometimes what I want to do will seem like a good idea and then I’ll realise that I’m not ready. Or that I just don’t want to do it anymore.
• Don’t try to offer me advice unless you’ve been there.
• Don’t make judgements for me.
This list is by no means definitive, and only based on my personal circumstances, but I think they might be transferable. So let me know what you think and if there’s anything else you’d add to it.
Thanks for reading!