You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with. ~Wayne Dyer
We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb
When I first quit drinking more than 3 years ago, I didn’t go out much. It was tough for me to imagine going to the same places and not ordering a drink. The very idea presented so many questions:
- Would I have fun?
- Would everyone think I am boring?
- Would everyone else be boring?
- Would I lose my willpower and order a drink?
- Would I forget my decision or drink something by accident?
- Would everyone focus on the fact that I am not drinking?
- Would no one notice?
- What the hell am I going to drink?
Initially, I dealt with the questions by not giving them a chance to be asked. Then I gradually ventured out.
I’d like to say that it was surprisingly positive, that I didn’t miss drinking and that sobriety only enhanced my experiences of the people and places. But that wouldn’t be true.
It’s easy to feel pretty left out when you go to a bar, club, or even a restaurant and you don’t drink. Seemingly everyone has a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine in hand and is having a great time. Squeezing between patrons and leaning into the bar to order a club soda with lime just doesn’t pack the same punch as a Jameson’s on the rocks, you dig? And many times I went out with friends, hoping for the best, only to realize that by the time they were on their third or fourth drink, I was pretty much out the door.
I did learn that the most challenging part of the night for me is the first 10 to 20 minutes. This is when people are bellying up to the bar, checking out everyone else’s cocktails, and ordering. At a restaurant, the first 10 to 20 minutes are spent perusing the wine list, procuring tastes – swirling, sniffing, sipping. How many times has the aroma of someone else’s wine spilled into my nostrils only to make my poor envious sober head spin?!
After those first 10 to 20 minutes, though, people tend to settle into their meals or conversations or cruising for dates. At that point – at least as far as drinking – I’m pretty much home free.
A couple of nights ago, I went to a concert; I didn’t know the singer but I went with a friend who was a big fan. As soon as we got there, it was apparent that this was not my scene. The singer was a Swedish dance-pop star who attracted a very young and hip (do we still say hip?) crowd, most of whom were strapping (and gorgeous) young gay men. And not only was I among the oldest and most conservatively dressed, I think I was literally the only one not drinking.
At first, I was also the only one not dancing (did I mention I don’t really dance – that there seems to be some law of physics preventing women over 5’9” from moving their bodies rhythmically in a way that does not cause great shame and embarrassment?).
But then something happened – a song struck me as particularly danceworthy and I started to move. And then I didn’t care what I looked like or who saw. I was completely, utterly, undeniably sober…and dancing. And I didn’t feel so alone in this crowd.