My first sober traveling trip a success-I stayed dry! I leave tomorrow morning to go back to Egypt. It's been a fun trip, even without the Belgian beers. I had polar experiences with meeting up with old friends while here. I told my friend CG I was not drinking anymore and she took it in stride without asking any questions besides if I minded if she got a beer with dinner. Of course I didn’t mind and then her beer never showed up and she didn’t mind. Again, something I could never do. Her husband stopped drinking a few years back so I thought we might have some conversation about all of it but we didn’t. She didn’t ask many questions and we talked about other things-our adjustments to our second foreign country, differences in our new schools and a bit about the other friend I was going to meet up with and how his drinking has isolated him a bit in their new community. We worried about his drinking together. I did express my concern with meeting up with him and the other friends visiting him because of the drinking and she said she was available to meet up afterwards if I needed an exit plan. At first I wanted a therapy session with her when I told her I stopped drinking, full with “Oh my God! That’s big! What’s going on….why? I’m so proud…” blah, blah, blah, me, me me. But I realized through writing this that her actions were more practically supportive than my desire to talk it out. She normalized the situation when we hung out and was there if I needed her. That is a friend indeed.
I left space to meet up with BT and TA. She texted me at 6am in the morning saying she was up and we made plans for dinner later that night. But she canceled after the time that we should have met for dinner. If I fill in the blanks: she got into Brussels the previous night and the group partied hard, she woke up really dehydrated and texted me before going back to sleep. They got a late start for their day trip, continued to drink, got back at 8pm and couldn’t handle much more. She texted me at 8:15pm, saying they were wiped out, sorry she was a bad friend but they were in for the night. I’ve done that many of times-tried to make multiple plans for the day and drinking prevented me from having the energy to have more than one plan a day. I was a bit relieved actually; we can always get on Skype to catch up and I don’t have a one-time encounter to try out a new dynamic with my old drinking friends.
I had a feeling they would flake, so I went to an afternoon movie with CG and her girlfriends and had a light dinner as I waited to hear from them. We went to see the movie, “Fifty-Shades of Grey.” What a guilty pleasure to see it with some lady friends and laugh at it and analyze it for its implications for young women and relationships with controlling men. We went out for pizza afterwards and no one drank…strange new world to realize that this is normal for people. If I were drinking, I would have ordered a drink and I bet that would have encouraged at least one or more of them to drink too. I would have been the drinking ringleader. I always was the one that was starting the party, many times without even realizing it. What I'm learning about the world!
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp