inside out, upside down…

from my inbox:

TM: “I’ve been a ‘non-drinker’ for 3 years now, and even though I got through those terribly awkward first few months (with only one slip!) it’s still reassuring to read of others’ experiences. Living in NY, I’m inundated with 12-step propaganda, and, sadly, I don’t know a soul who has just stopped drinking without being involved in the program.  This can be profoundly isolating, and I find that most folks in the program tend to be dismissive and a bit condescending about any alternative to their solution.

So thank you for sharing your experiences and helping me to feel not-quite-so-alone in this.  At times it feels like everyone in the world drinks, and drinkers share a bond that is really difficult to describe. The hardest thing about being a non-drinker, at least for me, is being surrounded by drinking conversations/activities/socializing, and feeling like an outsider. I’m slowly just coming to terms with the fact that this is just how it’s going to be for the rest of my life, and hopefully, somehow, I’ll meet more people who can socialize without booze.

Anyways, sorry for the blathering here, and thanks for the great writings! ~ TM”


me: i totally feel for TM and i’m sure his experience isn’t unique. do you feel like an outsider as a sober person? You know, it’s funny but this hasn’t been my experience. maybe because i’m an extrovert anyway. and i’m often the host of events where no one notices my non-drinking-ness because they’re too worried about themselves. But TM’s experience isn’t unique and I know that there are others who can relate to him.  What do you think? As a sober individual, are you ‘on the outside’, are you ‘on the inside holding your glass of tonic’ or are you in the group (like me) of ‘no one notices if i drink or not’…


Happy Day 50 to Dmarie!

Happy Day 50 to Trimom!

Happy Day 50 to Vanessa!

Happy Day 50 to Karen!

Happy Day 100 to Flaura!

Happy Day 100 to Anita!

Happy Day 180 to Elise!

Happy Day 180 to Emery!

Happy day 200 to Rx!

Happy day 200 to Ellie!

Happy day 200 to Crispy!

Happy Day 300 to Jocelynn!

Happy Day 500 to Lynda!

Happy Day 500 to Mr. Lynda!


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

  • I can also relate to what TM and everyone else is saying. I am at 262 days now and recently signed up for online dating. I listed myself as a social drinker because I thought others would think I had a problem – there’s that social stigma thing again – if I said I never drink. I thought if the subject came up I could just say I’m not drinking for reason A, B, C, etc. Wolfie has been planting ideas about just one tiny drink in my head, and in my drinking dream last night I didn’t regret it but just had a couple of sips before I gave it to someone else. That scares me! I have a coffee date tomorrow and rethought my listed drinking status and changed it to never. People do notice whether I drink or not, and drinking and its advertising is all around us. I dislike having to make excuses. If I said I was not eating peanuts or gluten, there would be no questions asked. I would love to hear about other’s sober dating experiences.

  • Wow, TM, I can also really relate to your experience. The first time I got sober (for 6 months in 2012), I did it in AA. For many reasons (that condescension and dismissive attitude toward other solutions included), I could not bring myself to go back when I tried to get sober again. Thank goodness for Belle because I have not yet met another person “IRL” who has gotten sober without the program. The thing I do miss this time around is the social aspect of AA — I found a nice group of girls/women who were all around my age (like 25ish-40ish) who were always making plans and doing fun things outside of meetings. We’d go out to dinner, to movies, even throw parties. I miss the camaraderie and the ease of having social plans with other sober people. (Unfortunately, those “friends” were very exclusive and limited to people actively in the program, and I would no longer be welcome.) It would be awesome to have the same kind of social meetup group for people who have found other solutions… Maybe we should all wear some kind of secret symbol? 🙂

    I’m not sure the outsider feeling ever goes away, but I do remember many times in that 6 months of sobriety where I relished coming home sober at the end of a night out with my drinking friends, loving feeling clear-headed (and clean-faced, because I didn’t pass out with my makeup still on, haha) knowing I’d saved money, calories, my self-esteem, my reputation, productivity the next day, etc. I was able to be around a lot of my heavy-drinker friends and still have a blast (and be DD for a change!). Sometimes even *more* fun, and I remembered it the next day! It wasn’t always easy, but it was a lot easier than I’d ever imagined. And now, only on Day 5 (after trying to get past Day 3 several times in the last 8 months), I can hardly imagine that was ever me or my life. I can’t even watch people drink on TV right now, it makes me so heartsick and envious, like how right after a terrible breakup, you can hardly stand to watch happy couples hold hands or kiss (or maybe that just happens to me and I’m a bitter ol’ grouch! Haha!).

    Anyways, awesome job on your 3 years, TM!! And I hope you find some good sober friends with whom you can share a great, equally fun, non-drinker bond. 🙂

  • Yes, I have felt like an outsider at times. I have 8 months sober in about a week, and it is definitely the norm, in the circles I travel in, to drink. I tried to take solace in the people I met at meetings, but I have a very similar experience to TM’s experience with 12 step programs. Very much a “my way or the highway” mentality. That being said I make sure to get to as many meetings as I need because accountability is always good, even if you don’t like the flavor of it.

    I agree that most people wouldn’t give it a second thought if I went out and didn’t have a drink in my hand. I would though! I recently went to a conference for work, and in my company’s suite there was a ton of booze…someone that knows my situation asked how I felt about being around all of it. I told him that, “I was hyper aware of it” and, “that it felt like a rattle snake sitting in the corner of the room.” I’m not ready to walk freely amongst the drinkers…yet. Maybe one day.

    All that being said, the one place I really feel HAS been a place of sanctuary for me is the online sober community. Blogs such as this one, /r/stopdrinking, and starting my own sobriety blog have been the places where I really feel like I am not the outsider. Everything seems much more sincere out here in cyberspace!? Maybe I’m going to the wrong meetings…who knows;)

    Anyways, thanks for being here, and letting me ramble on.


  • Definitely do not feel alone, TM. Sometimes I do feel like an outsider, but I notice it depends on who I’m around. I am an introvert, so like Renee above, alcohol was my social lubricant. I am hyper-aware of whether or not people notice my drinking or not drinking. It really does depend on the crowd for me. Some of my closest friends were also drinking buddies, and with them, they definitely notice and I feel on the outside. I feel like I’m missing out sometimes, but then I had a great sober friend remind me how the drinkers are missing out on feeling good the next day, being productive, having a clear head (you name the benefit of sobriety). That said, I’ve gone to parties where others were drinking (but it was not the SOLE activity), and they didn’t blink an eye… “oh, you’d like a water…here you go”…no questions asked. I recently was a business dinner where others said how “cool” it was that I didn’t drink. I thought that was pretty special. It makes me want to spend more time with people like that.

    I am very new to sobriety (60 days tomorrow), but as I move down this new path, I can’t help but wonder if I will gradually move towards new friends, and the “outsider” feeling will slowly fade.

  • I feel the same way TM. When I first stopped drinking I thought I could still go to Sports Bars and other places with people who were drinking and participate. But I can’t. There is a bond drinkers share. And I do not want to drink, so that is a bonding experience I have to pass on.

    The U.S. Department of Justice hired a think tank to do a study and discovered that 46% of Americans over 21 years old do not drink at all. A majority of Americans simply don’t drink. But they also don’t pull their pants down in public and act like fools, so they don’t get as much publicity as drinkers.

    Breakfast places and Bagel Shops are my new social venues. I went to Starbucks the other night and there were tons of people there socializing sans alcohol. Check out those coffee shops and night time diners that don’t sell booze. You may be surprised how the other half lives.

  • I quit for 8 months last year and managed to visit my family (large dysfunctional drinkers) and not drink. They really pressured me and I had to have bubbly water in my hands at all times. Truly have health issues and was able to blame it on that. One relative would not let up and said “really, would just one hurt?” I said, “probably not but who drinks just one?” (Besides my husband) this group understood that as they are all heavy drinkers so they left me alone. Managed that trip sober, got back and had a few non alcoholic beers which made me want to drink real ones and started back to one a day, then two a day everyday for a few weeks. The night I had three, woke the next day and stopped lurking, joined Belles 100 day challenge and am on day 11. It feels like The whole world is drinking, advertising it, modeling it, encouraging it, romanticizing it, and I just can’t do it anymore. I’m too introvert to join AA and would really not be comfortable…I have gone to alanon when I was young and AA with a family member. Not for me, but I have noticed at social events, concerts, etc with a lot of drinking no one notices I’m not. Unfortunately, when I was drinking heavily people noticed that I was buzzed 🙁

  • A major issue for us is to socialize without the drink. I completely understand TM and others, I`m a little newer on day 5 , for an uncountable amount of times I should add, and going to a dinner party with basically all new people and know that even with the “I won`t touch the booze tonight” “Just starting to feel better” thoughts in my head, as soon as I arrive, people will be drinking and that thougt will evaporate so quickly to be replaced by such possibilities as “everyone else has a drink”, “the normal thing to do is get on it”, “going to be awkward without a drink”, I crack and then get boozed, probably have a fun night (there by reinforcing the behaviour of social drinking) but as a consequence another 2-3 week cycle is underway. If I`m lucky that is, maybe longer. I`ll wake up hangover, confidence completely eroded because I know the drink beat me and even though I know the poison that is responsible I will seek out a method to get more. Manufacture a reason to go to the shops or remember there is some wine in the cupboard for cooking etc etc…..

    So I feel a little cowardly but already thinking I need a reason not to go, gain some more momentum before going out….

    • not cowardly at all, taking care of you. i didn’t socialize much outside my home in the first 6 weeks. it takes a bit of time to get your sober sea legs…

      • Thanks Belle I`ll take that reassurance in bucket loads! I think I`ll stay low and take it easy…. I didn`t go out, don`t feel like I missed out and gained this morning for sure. Beautiful day here and I was driving and thinking “I`m starting to feel good on this fine morning of day six” and bang wolfie counters with, “You`ll fell even better with a quick fire few beers in you” the bastard slips in there to steal the show in an absolute instant. I breathed and acknowledged him, told him to fuck off this is a one man show, no wolfs!!

  • Hi TM For me its only been thirty something days. But it has not been easy and yes, I do feel like an outsider. but the thing is I just don’t care. So far, everything else is better without alcohol and during those social situations I just remind myself of that and I say, “been there done that” Its like when you bake a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Instead of eating a couple, I remind myself that I’ve eaten them hundreds of times and really don’t need the extra calories of processed crap.
    Wouldn’t it be great if us sober bloggers could all meet up. We’d all be instant friends!!

  • Hi TM, I really appreciate your comments. It seems to depend on the situation for me. When it’s just around friends and family or small groups, it’s not a problem. But when I’m in a large group of mostly unfamiliar people, and they are all drinking, I do feel like an outsider. Last month, I attended a wedding in the wine region of upstate New York. Big Irish Catholic drinking event, and I only knew the parents of the groom. It was very loud for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception, and I have severe hearing loss which is really exacerbated in noisy places, so I pretty much kept to myself. I realized that when I drink, the problems of not hearing don’t bother me so much…I mean, who cares what they are saying or hearing when they’re drunk?! I am not an extrovert, so alcohol really was social lubrication for me. Will it always be this way? Probably, but I have to tell myself that easing my discomfort for a couple of hours with a bunch of strangers I likely never see again is not worth giving it all up. The majority of time, I’m happier as a non-drinker.

  • Thanks for the post TM do not feel alone….It’s interesting to me cause I’m relatively new to the no drinking game …8mos .This time before I quit and before and during the last couple times I tried to quit, I was worried about being an outsider or perceived “The Police at a Party”…I am an extrovert, people do ask why I’m not drinking , Humor works good for me,”I’m doing Heroin nowadays instead” – Alzheimer’s – “Can’t remember where I set my beer” but I have come to realize I truthfully have good reasons to quit. (these are true)- “I had a Stroke”, “Trying to be healthier”, “Seems like it has been affecting my memory”, “I gotta friggin Dry Out”, “I gotta lose some weight and get in shape”…So Far every one of these “problems” have disappeared since I quit drinking…Ive lost 35 lbs but more than loosing the weight I am WAAAY healthier, memory is way better,I feel clean and clear…..You’ve heard it before but I’m coming to find alot of old cliches’ are true and relate to not drinking .If your friends only wanna hang with you when your drinking “you need new friends”…’s not that they are bad people it’s that they have a different path. Here’s another one “Your health is your Wealth” also true Ha Ha Ha I’m lookin for non drinking friends also…. right now the awesome feeling I get is the best companion I could hope for 🙂

    • Well said, Moe! You are too funny…I will have to try some of your explainations! Seriously though, a lot of what you said really resonated with me….especially about having a different path. Those old cliches are really proving to be true, aren’t they!? I am also working on finding non-drinking friends OR trying to re-frame some existing important friendships around non-drinking activities…Belle gave me some great advice about how to do that. 🙂