I’ve always prided myself on my ability to make others comfortable.  Ever a generous host, always a gracious guest.  Perhaps I watched too much Love Boat as a child and was overly influenced by Julie the Cruise Director.  I put the comfort of others ahead of my own, at least I used to.

I am learning that my survival in sobriety hinges on my willingness to allow a bit of awkwardness.

Last night I went to a movie with my sisters, only one of whom is aware that I’ve quit drinking.  That’s all she knows really, that I’ve quit.  Actually I didn’t choose to tell her at all, she noticed and asked, “So what, you’re not drinking at all? Is this like, forever?” (Um, yah.  It’s forever.) “Oh, sweet,” she chirped, a little nervously it seemed to me. “So I guess you’re the DD from now on.” (For sure.)

She knows it but she doesn’t quite “get” it.

My idea was go to the show last night and be home by 9:30.  This didn’t quite match my sister’s expectation at all. “I thought we could all go to the bar after for –” suddenly she remembered my situation and shifted mid-sentence,  “– something to eat. Like a plate of nachos or something….?” She trailed off.

I felt horrible.  I am home alone this weekend and the bar is the last place I need to find myself.  I’d only arranged the movie outing to help fill my time during the witching hours when I most miss drinking. I just wanted to go home after, walk my dogs and crawl into bed with a book.  This was the antidote to drinking for me.  I knew I could “technically” manage to go to the bar and not drink, but I also knew it wasn’t best for me, and wasn’t at all what I wanted to do.

I dropped her off at her house after the movie, earlier than she wanted to be home on a Saturday night.  I could tell she was disappointed.  My other sister didn’t seem to mind; she had a long drive home from there and wanted to get on the road.

“Here, I owe you for the movie,” one of them said, fishing through her bag for her wallet.

“My treat,” I said, feeling badly that I was no longer much fun for her.

“Okay, I owe you then,” she said. “I’ll just bring you a bottle–”  She stopped short.  Her face was a mix of embarrassment and annoyance. We used to often bring each other a bottle of wine in exchange for small favours.  “I guess I can’t pay you in wine anymore so I’ll have to buy you nachos sometime.”

It was awkward, there’s no other word. I never realized wine was so many things in our relationship – a symbol, a currency, an activity, a hobby, a habit.

“No worries,” I said, smiling.


  1. Jean, I so enjoy reading your work and we share a name (my middle name is Jean). I totally get the feeling awkward around your sister BUT the truth is you are present with her and will be for decades to come. I’ve been working Craig Becks program and understanding that alcohol not only was becoming addicting to me in my life but that it is happening to many around me. Alcohol is addicting for everyone. For my protection and theirs I don’t want to be a part of long drinking evenings if I can help it. Rather be at home reading your blog. Thank you for all your wisdom. Your blog was the first one I started to read when I became “sober curious”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, this really connected with me. The amount of times I’ve failed giving up in the past because of wanting other people not to feel uncomfortable, so I’ve drank. Ive just found this blog and am starting from the beginning. It’s really great

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to welcome wine as currency, wine as symbol, wine as friendship. I used to promote it and encourage it. It is like some kind of cult. My book club should get royalties from wine manufacturers. Now that you have raised my awareness on this, I will be an observer. Sort of like an anthropologist. Thank you!


  4. I totally get the ‘currency’ thing. I went out for lunch today with my mother and sister and they sat back amazed that I didn’t order wine. (12 days sober today and haven’t really told anyone anything categorically.) My sister mentioned a movie she had for us to watch when I came over for wine. Then it was talk of Christmas and drinking wine, and so on and so on. I wonder if I have any non wine dimensions, I hope so! I hope people can create new associations for me, and soon!


  5. Sometimes it’s those awkward moments that bring family members closer together…in addition to the awkward moments it allows for the moments of appreciation and congratulations that are so important…Thanks for sharing your honesty with all of us and letting us learn from you…Hugs!


  6. Just found your blog and am struck by the honesty – and maybe even a little insight. I have been sober a long, long time – still go to AA once a week. Have been called a “low bottom snob” because my bottom was very ugly – it took all of it to get me sober at age 45 for the first and only time. I am so glad for you – it is such a freedom —-.


    • Thanks, Sally. I won’t say I envy your “rock bottom” but it would make things easier to explain if I’d smashed my car or woke up in my own pee. Luckily for me, I changed before it came to that. Maybe it was closer than I realized. I am thankful for my new life despite the lack of juicy bits.


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