I’m not drinking these days

Today I learned that I’m not ready to tell everyone why I’m not drinking. I’ve written about this before. It’s not a terribly new thing for me. But it hasn’t changed much either.

we were out for dinner tonight with old friends. i order tea with dinner, Mr. Belle orders an italian kind of cola. 

one of the friends says to me: “you’re not having any wine with your dinner? not even a glass? or how about a beer?”

me: “I’m not drinking these days.”

her: “yeah?”

me: “it’s been awhile now.”

and then Mr. Belle chirps up with:  “i’ve stopped drinking altogether. I was drinking too much and now i’ve stopped entirely.”

her: “that’s great.”

me (still doing my own thing): “i find i sleep better, i spend less money, i weigh less, i feel better.”

and inside, i was kind of irritated with my husband for saying that he drank too much (because he didn’t). But he felt he drank too much TO HIMSELF, and that’s all anyone can say about anything. But it did made me feel like he was telling that story for me, and that’s not the version of the story i wanted these people to know.

but i don’t control him, or what he says, or even what he says about me. they’re his friends, anyway, not even my friends.  He knows best what to say and how to say it. He may have handled it just like that so that this couple don’t ask him again, repeatedly, if he wants a drink.

And on the way home, i really had to admire my husband’s ‘bravery’.  He’s such a fucker like that.  He can just say “i was drinking too much” and then talk about the weather.

i admire him.  I’m not where he is.  I’m OK with either evolving over time to a different place, AND I’m OK with the fact that I may never be there. I can’t tolerate a whole bunch of “you’re not sober until you’ve told every fucking person on the planet the entirety of your personal business, including all the shitty people you hate.” I’m on day 372 and i’m doing fine. Mr. Belle is on day 81. He’s clearly doing fine, too…


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • That’s great news for Anne LaMott. I approach my 30th anniversary in February and am of two minds: shout it from the rooftops or quietly just know it was the only choice I had to keep living sanely.

  • I think you have to treat it like any life changing thing: some people need to know, most don’t. The only person that really needs to validate you is you. This gets me thinking about the whole “anonymous” and “alcoholic” system of labels we *must* place on ourselves. And how “society” feels like choosing not to drink is a problem that must be explained.

    It’s kind of like (haven’t we talked about this with this analogy?) when you have long hair and you cut it all off- you’re the one nervous about what people will think, and then when they say “OH! You cut your hair! WHY?” you say things like, “I just needed a change” or “I was tired of that ponytail all the time” or “I wanted to take better care of me and styling my hair makes me feel pretty.” And then they go back to thinking about their own hair.

    I guess I’m trying to say that none of us should feel uncomfortable because we don’t drink. But I think most of that comes from us, ourselves feeling out of place because we aren’t behaving in our usual way. And that if we are confident about our choices people won’t feel the need to question us. And if they do, just start talking about their hair. 🙂


  • Kudos to Mr. Belle! I found myself hesitating over whether to share Anne Lamott’s post about her 27th sober birthday on fb today, I haven’t drank in almost 2 years and almost everyone knows it, but I didn’t want to come off preachy.

    Screw ’em! I went ahead and posted it because maybe someone out there needs to see it.

  • I just wrote about this on your post “Gin and Tonic…No…Tonic” with my sister in law. I have maybe seen her 4 times in the last 11 months and it never felt right to tell her. We met on Super bowl Sunday and I claimed to not be drinking cause I had a job interview the next day…which was true…but I knew I was withholding cause I didn’t want to get into it with her. She’s really judgemental and critical and I didn’t want to be that “intimate” with her.
    It’s a very private and personal thing for most of us. I basically hid my drinking at home alone at night. So I’m finding as I tell close relatives they are kind of shocked or say ‘yeah…I drink too much sometimes also’ not really knowing how much I drank. Guess I was a successful, secret drunk! Nothing to be proud of. Only hubby really knew. My own kids thought I was having a glass of wine with dinner only. Only a couple times did my teen daughter get mad at me for ‘talking stupid’ as she called it.
    I find also that when I tell them that I’m not drinking…it wrecks their drinking experience. Like I’m taking all the fun out of their partying. Now with some people I feel like ‘fun sucking sober Katherine’! Do you find this happens too?

    • i haven’t had any fun-sucking-sober experiences, but i’ve told such a breezy happy version of my sobriety that no one really considers it a downer… i may have to look at that … it’s really just who i am. i put a bright spin on everything. all is well. and mostly all IS well. so that’s the version i choose to tell.

      • I think I just need some new sober friends in my life! New characters in this new chapter of my life. I do make light of my sobriety and even laugh or make a joke about the shit being addictive and I’m not a downer kinda person to be around. I don’t go on and on about not drinking. I’m more positive being sober…less depressed…more grateful and less shameful and more content. It’s those old drinkin’ friends that I think my sobriety messes with their drinking issues. So they look at me as the ‘fun sucking sober’ one. My sobriety makes them feel uncomfortable with themselves. Yep…no wonder I don’t want to join them. Thanks for helping me see this.

  • It’s off. I’m reading your post and the comments and finding I have the opposite problem. I’m only on day 29 and I’m so damned excited about finally accomplishing this goal I’ve had for years that I want to shout from the root fops! I have to hold myself back from walking around the neighborhood exclaiming, “I am an alcoholic, but I don’t drink anymore!!” I’m sure this will pass…

  • LOL – “….you’re not sober til you’ve told every fucking person….” I LOVE it – so true. We just are who we are. Period. Thanks Belle.

  • Lol, that’s exactly how my hubby would try and help me out, then I’d give him earache for it! Cause we still think we can control everything and everyone’s reactions too. What if we really didn’t give a shit what they said of thought…would the world really end? That’s what I am reminding myself when I read this…I need to work on not caring about what the shitty people I hate the most think!
    Great point!
    C xx

  • Thanks for this post. You really got me thinking about things because I still work within AA but often find myself really disagreeing with stuff. It doesn’t work for everyone, I know. Like, as you suggested, why would I tell everyone (particularly the shitty jerks I don’t even talk to anymore) my personal business? These questions burn in my brain and I’m glad someone else has them too.

    I feel the same as DDG. It’s different depending on the day and the person. What I struggle with is my husband getting frustrated with me because I’m not making a big declaration to everyone who asks if I want a drink. Sometimes I just want to say, “Not right now, thanks,” not, “Well, I gave up drinking…blah blah blah TMI…”

    As long as you’re OK with saying whatever you want, that’s all that matters in my opinion. You don’t owe anyone any sort of explanation. I wonder if we’re so used to coming up with explanations for drinking that it’s just ingrained in us. Regardless, congrats on your day 372 and Mr. Belle’s 81.

    • I find rarely do people ask me why I’m not drinking. I don’t think people care less what I drink, or eat for that matter, so long as they are doing what they like. If you go down to any of our locals no-one cares what you drink, it doesnt enter their heads, why should it, do I care what they are drinking? Do I care if you order salmon and I order steak? Who honestly really cares or give a damn. The only time someone made a point of why didn’t I want wine with my dinner was a while ago back, there were about 6 of us at a lovely restaurant having Sunday lunch. He asked me about three times “why didn’t I want wine?” “are you sure?” “why don’t you want any?” I just kept saying I don’t want any, thanks. My hubby thought it a bit odd why he kept on. It didn’t make me feel awkward, but I thought he looked a bit odd, keep asking the same question. Also, the only time anyone wants to buy a lady a drink is if she’s young, pretty and they want to pursue her. No one wants to buy you a drink when your in your fifties, lol x take care

  • “I can’t tolerate a whole bunch of “you’re not sober until you’ve told every fucking person on the planet the entirety of your personal business, including all the shitty people you hate.”” Amen, sister.

    Everyone’s different, y’know? Sometimes I feel OK being blunt, other times I feel awkward and self-conscious–the worst is when people KNOW it was a problem, and I quit because it was a problem, and then they go out of their way (in a good way, but still obvious) to pretend they don’t know!

  • Ah, this was timely to read given my post today. But, with all due respect to Mr Belle, it’s much easier to be “brave” when it wasn’t really a problem to begin with. That’s not bearing your soul in the same way as when it really, truly, deeply was a problem and you’ve really wrestled with it to the bottom of your being and maybe you still feel some buried (or not-so-buried) guilt or shame over not being able to ‘control’ your drinking. That’s more akin to someone announcing publicly that they gave up wheat because it was making them feel bloated, ya know?

    I’m with you – we don’t need to tell everyone all our business. It’s fine to pick and choose who you tell what to and who we want to trust with the full story or even portions of it.