I’m running out of excuses to not hang out with people. It’s been two months since I’ve hung out with any of my friends outside of work; I haven’t done anything since I started sobriety – outside of hanging out with my family.
Frankly, I don’t know how to hang out with anybody without drinking. Alcohol was the glue that held all my relationships together. Without it, what’s left?
I’m wondering how best to tell people about the alcoholism and my choice of sobriety. It’ll no doubt strike people as odd – especially from me. I don’t think anybody’s ever seen me without a drink in my hand. I’ve earned a reputation for being a fun drunk, the life of the party. For me to suddenly go back on that and say that it was a problem will be confusing for people.
So how does one break it to people that all those good times were actual just the tip of the alcoholic iceberg?
“It was time to quit – I’m a father now.”
Pros: I’m a good dad, and a decent, selfless person who’s leaving the party-animal behind him.
Cons: Makes me sound like a sanctimonious asshole.
This is a decent start I guess, but honestly, it’d sound really out of place coming out of my mouth. For one thing, I’ve been a father for over three years, so why is it just now a thing? For another, so what if you’re a father? My dad drinks… most people’s dads do! And they’re all just fine.
Also, this has a certain holier than thou tone to it. It’s like saying I don’t drink because drinking makes you a bad father. Well isn’t that sort of a tacit condemnation of everybody who does drink and also is a father – which is basically everyone?
This one’s also tough since I’m still young enough that most of my friends don’t have children yet, so they probably won’t “get” it.
“I’m not drinking tonight… I have an early morning tomorrow.”
Pro: Completely sidesteps the issue – for now.
Con: Completely sidesteps the issue.
This could work once or twice to delay my having to tell everybody that I don’t drink anymore. And it’s also the chicken-shit easy way which is always my preferred method.
Also, it doesn’t sound credible coming from me. I used to drink until the early morning hours, then get up a few hours later and function just fine. Early mornings have never bothered me in the past and everybody knows that – so why should they now?
At the end of the day, this is just a punt. I’ll still have to address it at some point.
“I’m on this stupid diet and I’m not allowed to drink.”
Pro: Sounds plausible. I could definitely lose some weight.
Con: Lacks credibility when I’m shoving 3000 calories of nachos down my face hole.
People love talking about whatever fad diet they’re on to lose weight. Why not claim that I’m on some fad diet and that I’m not “allowed” to drink?
This could work, and would be a decent way to save face. It’s perfectly acceptable for a fat dude to talk about being fat. Shit, how many comedy legends are fat dudes who make a joke out of being fat? Why can’t I do it?
The problem is this is also a temporary solution and one that’s doomed to fail because, let’s face it, I’m not going to stop eating Taco Bell and Reese’s Cups anytime soon. Eventually it’ll become pretty obvious that my diet is a complete joke.
“I’m an alcoholic and I’m in recovery.”
Pro: Unambiguous and… well… it’s the truth.
Con: “Wow, can you believe that about Matt? I never knew… Hey John, did you hear about Matt? Yeah, can you believe that? It’s kind of sad really…”
Yikes. The truth? Bold move. By now you should all know that I’m too much of a coward to go with the truth.
I feel like as soon as I drop this bombshell everybody will think I am weak. They’ll all just think I wasn’t mature enough to drink like the rest of them and keep my shit together. They’ll think I’m pathetic. And I’m not pathetic.
Worse, maybe they’ll walk on eggshells around me. They’ll be thinking, are we allowed to drink and have fun around Matt? Or will he feel compelled to start drinking and ruin his life?
“I stopped drinking because it started to become a problem.”
Pro: It’s the truth, and I don’t have to say the phrase “I’m an alcoholic.”
Con: “started to become a problem” is vague and open to interpretation. Did you hear Matt’s drinking was a problem? What’d he do, beat his wife? DUI?
This one also has the benefit of truth to it, but it’s also wide open to interpretation. And you know people love filling information voids with the absolute worst shit possible. I can hear it now:
Did you hear Matt beats his kids?
He must have gotten arrested!
I thought he looked weird at work… he must have been drunk!
Fuck. That. Shit.
“I’m not drinking anymore and it’s none of your goddamn business why.”
Pro: Unambiguous and, again, it’s the truth.
Con: Combative and people will still come up with their own reasons.
Really, at the end of the day, it’s nobody’s goddamn business why I stopped drinking. I have my reasons, and maybe they should just stay my own. If they’re real friends of mine, they’ll understand. And if they’re not, then why should I give a shit what they think?
Whatever I decide, it’s probably time to come out from under my rock…