This past weekend, my boyfriend and I traveled to Atlanta to visit his family for his sister’s birthday. I’m not used to taking weekend trips where alcohol isn’t in the equation, so this was definitely a test for me in more ways than one.
First of all, my boyfriend and I traveled separately. He was supposed to fly to Atlanta straight from his work trip in Chicago and I drove six hours by myself after work on Friday. He was supposed to be there by the time I got there…however, he ended up being stuck at the airport for 12+ hours and not getting to ATL until later the next day. I was still going to hang out with his family in the meantime, but I already knew beforehand that their idea of fun on a Saturday is brunching and drinking. It was a little awkward when we all hit the DIY bloody mary bar and I was ordering water instead, which obviously sparked questions. It was also a little tough considering that not too long ago, my ideal way to kick-off the weekend was downing bottomless spicy bloodys.
Initially, I thought that his family might be a little judgmental or confused about my choice not to drink, especially since they’ve seen me happily (and eagerly) partake in drinking festivities many times. Thankfully, they were actually really supportive and encouraging. It reminded me that at the end of the day, I’m making a healthy and positive lifestyle choice, and anybody who disagrees with that has their own problems.
My boyfriend finally arrived and we all went out to eat. When I was a drinker, I depended on pitchers of beer and craft cocktails to spice up the conversation over dinner. In the right environment, I would be the one playing devil’s advocate and suggesting shots all around. But this time, we had fun simply enjoying each other’s company and it didn’t have to be THE WILDEST, MOST FUN TIME ANYONE HAS EVER HAD…which used to be my mindset every time I did anything drinking-related. We played cards at the next bar we went to and I was literally laughing so hard I was crying on the way home. It was proof to me that I can still have great laughs and fun times without any alcohol in my system.
The next day was a different story. Going to dinner and playing cards while sober is a lot different than bar-hopping all day long with a group who is adamant about getting drunk and doing drugs. The day started off fine, but going from bar to bar for hours was rough. I went with the flow because I didn’t want to be a high-maintenance buzzkill, but guess what? Being the only sober person on an all-day drinking extravaganza is extremely boring and exhausting for me. People with a lot of drugs and alcohol in their system are determined to keep the party going and they also tend to suck at having anything on their mind other than when and where they’re getting their next drink. Trust me, that used to be my life story. I wasn’t judgmental but I was frustrated. I felt out of place, which is why I drank so much to feel like I belonged. I realized I’m not going to be the cool, sober bar-hopper friend…I’m probably going to pass on events like that more often than not. And that’s okay.
A great part of the trip was going to Canton’s hometown fall festival. No alcohol was served anywhere, and I just loved looking around at all the families and their kids having fun in a wide-open field full of vendors selling arts & crafts, petting zoos, scarecrow contests, and pumpkin patches. It reminded me of being a kid again when my idea of fun was so wholesome and innocent. I loved that nobody was going from tent to tent looking for beer, but just enjoying the season with their loved ones. While everyone I was with was probably dying to go to find something more aligned with their idea of fun, I really soaked up the moment.
Overall, I’m super proud of myself for not feeling tempted to drink at any point during the whole weekend. A few months ago, I gave up drinking for three weeks until my boyfriend’s family came to visit for Memorial Day. I thought it was my sole duty to be the life of the party and I drank a whole bottle of tequila with his sister for no reason. This time, I knew drinking wouldn’t actually enhance the situation. I would’ve only felt miserable, hungover, guilty, and embarrassed in the end. It’s not worth it. Even though there were some awkward and uncomfortable moments being the only person not drinking, I sat in those feelings and fought through instead of giving in. And that’s what growth in sobriety is all about.