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I Drink Alone

Last week, a friend was in town for a few days attending a work event, so we decided to meet for a quick catch up. This is someone I’ve known for years, both professionally and personally. We went out for a drink at their hotel bar, as it was convenient and it offered good non-alcoholic options. This particular hotel is at the base of the convention center, so it was buzzing with the after-conference crowd. A few moments after sitting down at a bar side table, NA drink in-hand, I became wildly distracted. I started to spot the groups of colleagues gathering, lining up to order cocktails while others brought drinks from the happy hour they’d just attended. Some were there to wind down and others were continuing their meetings. I did my best to refocus as my friend and I chatted and caught up with one another. However, I lost focus again as the crowd grew and the bar started buzzing. People were drinking and conducting business, and it was then that I realized I was distracted because I recognized a past version of myself.

I’ve attended my fair share of work-related booze-fueled events, and a lot of them I’d attended with the friend who was visiting. I made mention of my déjà vu, and they responded with a simple ‘Me too!’. What’s interesting about this shared experience, is that both of us are on a booze break. We were able to peer at a past version of ourselves, and then we were able to celebrate our growth into the booze-free badasses we are today. The next morning, I felt great, and I was again reminded of another version of myself; the hungover version. It was incredibly refreshing when we both asked one another that following day, “How did we ever do this hungover?”.

In the five months since going dry I’ve had multiple friends make similar life changes. Some have gone damp, some have gone dry and others have gone sober (cutting out any mood altering substances). These are close friends, people with whom I’ve shared deep conversations and life events. These are also people I drank with. I thought that drinking was a social activity. I thought that I was someone who drank because it was part of the scene. If I was out to dinner, at a concert, at a bar or anywhere social; I was drinking. So, when I decided to quit drinking for my dry year, I feared that I would lose that sense of community and ultimately, that I would lose friendships.

I was wrong.

There’s something powerful about a shared experience, and I’m thrilled that by sharing my dry year, others have been able to make positive changes as well. I try not to overthink the future. Anxiety lives there, and we don’t get along very well. However, I do see a future where if I decide to drink again, I may be drinking alone. The more I open up about living alcohol free, the more I find myself surrounded by others who are choosing the same path. So this week, I’m saying cheers to staying dry, to staying present, and to staying connected.

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