I haven’t had a drink for almost six months now. And I love my new life. But one thing I don’t love is going to parties. Sure, it’s great to catch up with friends and families. And up until 10pm, the conversation is quite pleasant. But a non drinker amongst a sea of drinkers can cause some people to really squirm!
On Saturday night, we attended a friend’s party. It was a milestone birthday, marking a special occasion. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy and feel humbled to be able to celebrate that special moment with special people.
Up until about 10pm.
Then, the downhill spiral of drunken blabber, slurring, groping, repeating and unfiltered gossip begins.
Being alcoholfree, it’s still our right to attend such events. It shouldn’t be as hard as what it is, thanks to our heavy drinking culture. Sadly, we can’t change peoples’ attitudes but we can change how we respond. So here are some tips you might find useful if you’re off to a party/wedding/drunken event.
- Arrive early, leave early. Like Cindarella, things turn into pumpkins at midnight. I save myself the grief and exit about 10pm. By about that time, most people have had a skinful so they don’t even realise you’re heading off. And do you think they’ll remember conversations after that point in the evening? Unless they are controlled drinkers, I’d say probably not.
- Always have something in your hand. Even if it’s sparkling water with a slice of lemon in a gin and tonic glass. It helps reduce the interrogations about why you aren’t drinking. It’s so sad that we need to resort to this tactic but I do it to help keep the conversation pleasant… I don’t want to justify to someone I haven’t seen in a while why I’m not drinking.
- Keep busy. For example, whether it’s taking photos or helping with the food, find something to take your mind off the drinking all around you. This tactic helped me hugely in the early days. Because if I sat at a table, staring longingly at people’s drinks, watching them drink, smelling the smell and feeling sorry for myself, I think I might have caved. I’m not saying don’t talk to people, I’m saying keep busy so your mind isn’t tempted to wander to the drink.
- Take your own car. This is probably stating the obvious, but it’s so you can sneakily escape in your own time, on your own terms.
- Tell someone who’s there that you won’t be drinking. If things get tough, I go and find my partner and tell him I’m struggling. He knows the full course of my alcoholfree journey and he is my rock. He always says something reassuring and supports me when the going gets tough. If you know the story of Dumbo and the purple feather, he is my purple feather. I’m more than capable of flying but having him there helps trick my mind into thinking I’m successful because here’s there supporting me.
Anyway, hope this helps. I used to love parties. Any excuse to drink, drink, drink. My preparation for parties was a bottle of wine before I left home. But now, I know I have to prepare differently. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. I believe that the more we attend social events and don’t drink, the more comfortable in our own skin we will become. It’s just a matter of time. I’m not quite there yet; parties still make my skin crawl and I feel anxious. But I’m hopeful that over time, the angst I feel before and during the event will gradually subside.
If you have any tips or tricks about attending social gatherings, I’d love to hear about them! After all, we are stronger together.
Love and sober hugs,
From New Zealand 💙🙋🏽🌏🌴🇳🇿
PS the following photo was taken on my walk to work one day last year. The Marilyn Munroe quote I overlaid on top has helped me out in some tough time, so wanted to share it with you. Thank you for stopping by.