On Saturday night my husband and I attended an annual party with our circle of preschool parent friends.
Long story short:
I stayed sober, enjoyed authentic conversation, and even felt (relatively) comfortable and (mostly) confident. Booze-less schmoozing with peers: achievement unlocked!
Short story long:
I don’t know if it was the cooler weather or what, but the party was not as boozy as I remembered it being last year. The alcohol was certainly plentiful. My hostess friend has exquisite taste in everything, from fashion to interior design to tequila, so the bar was stocked with an all-star line-up that included Whispering Angel and Casamigos. But the overall vibe was surprisingly mellow.
I was 100% resolute in my decision to not drink of course, but I still felt a pang for that Casamigos: FOMOOT (fear of missing out on tequila). I stepped up to the bar and ordered a club soda with lime for myself and a gin and tonic for my husband (his only drink of the night). And that was that. Once I had a drink in my hand, I got over my momentary FOMOOT. Boozy thoughts fizzled fast, evaporating from my brain for the rest of the night.
It was a lovely party. Dinner was a little higher in SmartPoints than I would have liked but I’ve made up for that. My husband and I caught up with some good friends and we even spent some of the time NOT talking about our kids!
I fielded a couple of comments about not drinking, but it really was just not a thing. Just as I’d hoped. I didn’t feel judged or outcast. My choice was taken in stride, as it should be.
Everyone who was drinking seemed to be in control. Which is a good thing of course. But I definitely felt like a bit of a loser for needing to take a prolonged (maybe forever) booze break, when everyone around me was handling their rosé and margaritas just fine. As I teetered on the edge of a pity party, I reminded myself of the following:
1) You never know what is really going on behind the closed doors of someone else’s mind. A relationship that may seem perfectly functional on the outside may be painful on the inside. Or not –
2) Either way, it doesn’t matter. And I can’t spend precious time and brain power creating stories about other people’s drinking. The only story that should matter to me is mine.
3) I am not weaker than my friends because I took a break from booze. I chose to do something healthy for myself and, if anything, I should feel stronger – not weaker – for making that choice.
We left the party when we got tired, around 9:15. Again, the “L”-word popped into my head. “What, we can’t even stay out past 10 now that I’m not drinking anymore?! We are such losers!” But when I said goodbye to my hostess friend, I apologized for the fact that we were leaving so early and she said, “Are you kidding me? That’s why the party started at 6!”
We are all parents of young kids. So we are all tired. I am sober and therefore acutely aware of my fatigue; whereas I used to attempt to power through it by pounding glass after glass of wine to keep the dopamine and sugar flowing and keep me awake. And for what? To have sloppy conversations I can’t remember the next day? To waste another 20 or so SmartPoints? To feel “cool” because I can stay out late? Did that ever actually feel cool? The crappy night of sleep and next morning’s hangover certainly never did.
On Sunday morning, I woke clear-headed. I took my dog for a long walk and did a Peloton ride, scoring one of my highest outputs of the week. Then I took my kids to their swim lessons and made it through the day with consistent energy and zero regrets.
I shudder to think of where I would have been physically and mentally if I had been nursing a crushing hangover.
It’s just not worth it. Not to me, not anymore.