Portland is a place of old friends. Old friends who know me, which means when we make plans for lunch they suggest a new brewery that I should try. A friend did that, via text messaging plan making and my first response was: "sure!" not wanting to make it about me and feel awkward texting something about not drinking...
Then I thought about it the next day and decided that 1) I don't want to go to a brewery, 2) If I was in her place and she sat down at the brewery and said, "I don't drink anymore but go ahead" I (as her) would have felt terrible: "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME, WE COULD HAVE EATEN SOMEWHERE ELSE!" and guilty finished the previously ordered microbrew. I would hate to be caught off guard like that.
I've concluded that while it may not be a big deal to others that I'm not drinking, no one likes surprises in these circumstances. Husband patiently listened as I brainstormed ideas about what to text back and here's how it went:
Me: "Hi! I was looking at the website of 10 Barrel and couldn't find what food they serve...is it good? I ask because I stopped drinking and would be focused on the food and the company :) not the brew"
Her: "Ha! And I just started cause I've started to wean (breastfeeding). How about Thai? I like Khao San on 15th and Flanders."
Me: "Sounds great, but you know you can drink all you want with me, I just won't join in!"
Her: "Thanks! Was more thinking about the food. Ten Barrel is pretty pub grubby. After the 4th of July I'm ready for some rice!"
Me: "Cool, see you tomorrow. I haven't had good Thai in 10 months"
Okay for a first text message confession about not drinking. I seem to feel the need to assure people they can drink around me, I don't want people to feel bad about their drinking around me, but maybe I need to stop promoting people to drink around me.
On the 4th of July I told both my sister-in-law and mother-in-law that I'm not drinking anymore. In both incidences it went fine. I know mother-in-law must be very curious but she hasn't built up the courage yet to ask more questions. Mother-In-Law asked on the way home, when I talked about how tired I was (we just arrived from 24 hours of travel the day before) and she asked if I had anything to drink. So I said no, I stopped drinking a few months ago...better for my health, mumble mumble.
I've actually had a sinking feeling she already knew because all of our mail gets sent to her house because we live aboard, and she opens some of it to see if there important things we need to know about - which I find uncomfortably exposed - and a couple of days ago I saw that she opened the receipt for the registration of this domain name, iwillstartwithwater.com. I assumed she got curious and googled it and has been following my very public personal journey since. But maybe not, since she asked about me not drinking and isn't super into tech...who knows.
I know this is out there, publicly, but my initial feeling was as if she might have read my diary and didn't tell me. I like the idea of people who need my stories finding this in their search for community and support. It is different feeling when Mother-In-Law might be secretly following along with my journey because she opened my mail. I know she wouldn't have found this on her own and she isn't one of my inner circle friends invited in for my own accountability and support.
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