Monday, 6 August 2018

Can friendships carry on when you give up drinking?

As time has gone on I have started to adapt to my alcohol free way of life and living without pickling myself in booze has become normal.  When I set out on this new path, there were frequent situations that provoked waves of anxiety but nowadays, these are few and far between.  Having said that, I have spent much of this year feeling slightly anxious about coming back to Europe for the summer and facing my friends in England and Greece, who had not yet encountered sober me.  Since the start, I have seen this as the last major challenge facing me.

My primary criteria for forging friendships over the years has been based on whether people are fun, naughty, loyal, supportive, a touch quirky or crazy (preferably without a formal psychotic diagnosis) and a drinker.  I wanted to fill my life with boisterous party people who didn't take life too seriously but would be by my side when I needed them and vice versa.  The last thing I was looking for were sensible friends who sat in the corner sipping water and judging me as I made a twat of myself in blackout mode. So instead I recruited allies who also failed to find their 'off' switch and were willing to let loose and then call me the next day trying to piece together the events of the night before.  I did a pretty good job of this too!  Needless to say, it never crossed my mind to consider what would happen in the seemingly impossible event that I gave up drinking.  As such, I was fearful that some of my oldest friends would feel uncomfortable with non-drinking me hanging around when they wanted to revel.

Drunken memories with some of my fabulous friends

Fortunately this hasn't been the case and everyone has done a great job of disguising their disappointment that I'm now teetotal.  Almost all of them have been incredibly supportive, buying in alcohol-free drinks for me or taking me to bars with good mocktail options, but otherwise carrying on as if nothing has changed.

It has been undeniably reassuring and a great testament to the strength of these relationships, that although they may have been formed over countless pints of cider, glasses of wine, bottles of vodka and shots of sambuca, the friendships continue to flow even though the booze has ebbed.  The truth is that we have been there for each other through so many life experiences - from heartbreak to love, engagements to marriages, pregnancies and miscarriages to babies, and family dramas to bereavements - that alcohol is merely an ancilliary, it's not the glue that keeps us together.

It has been enlightening to discover that it seems fairly irrelevant that I have stopped drinking and besides, between us all we have enough tales of silly boozy antics to keep us entertained for the remainder of our lives anyway, we really don't need to create any more together!  However, I am more than happy to sit on the sidelines and observe, in a non-judgy way, if they want to carry on.

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