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.