Updated: Feb 9, 2020
It took 14 months, of trying to live sober, and a few failed attempts, but eventually, I did it.
I was just under 90 days of being alcohol-free, for the first time in over a decade, when I had my first attempt at this. When I first stopped drinking, I was not sober. I used weed as I used alcohol. If I was not drunk, I was stoned.
I failed on my first attempt. I had a couple of sips of wine that my colleagues were tasting. They were wine tasting between two different reds to vote on which red was the group’s favorite. At the time, I was still in denial. I knew I was an alcoholic and needed to stop getting drunk, but I was not ready to let go of the obsession that I could drink like a normal person. I had done so before, so I could do it again.
I did not have more than two small sips that night, to participate in the vote. I ran home to my wife. Finally, I would come back home after a night with colleagues and be sober. Yay! My wife was so proud of me, and so was I. I did not mention that I had tasted wine because I did not think it was that important. Two small sips did not get me drunk that night, but it did plant the seed that I was indeed a normal drinker. It wasn’t long after that night that I began secretly drinking.
The second time I went out to drinks with colleagues, my marriage was falling apart, so I got drunk on four large glasses of red wine. The third time, I went out with colleagues for drinks. I got so wasted, made a total fool of myself, and told my boss that I was an alcoholic and an addict — bad idea. I am lucky to have a compassionate boss who did not fire me but instead has supported me through this process.
The fourth time I went out to dinner and drinks with coworkers, I stayed sober. It took four attempts, but I eventually did it. I went to Soul Cycle at lunchtime to prepare for my night out with my colleagues. I planned for the evening, knowing that it would be challenging to stay sober. I did everything in my power to avoid drinking.
When the night was over, I was so God damn proud of myself; I posted the occasion on social media outing myself for having completed my first sober night out with colleagues, EVER!
Now, I have no problem going out for drinks with colleagues. I typically show up thirty minutes later than everyone else, order some exotic mocktail, and request a few rounds of the “same drink.”
I do not think anyone knows or cares that I am not drinking alcohol.
I have interesting conversations with colleagues about my favorite characters in the series Game of Thrones. We are sales professionals. We love partying and drinking to burn off extra energy. I can relate and contribute to the conversations being had. I’ve been to Burning Man, which appeals to them, and they’re interested in hearing about my partying stories.
When it comes to happy hour with coworkers, I can hang. I can enjoy myself and others. It’s not only possible, but it’s better. I do not have to worry about landing in HR the following day, nor making a fool of myself. I can remain to be the professional woman I am at the office.