If I stop drinking will my friends still like me?
This is a question I struggled with a lot. For many years I surrounded myself with a heavy drinking crowd and whenever I made a peep about wanting to slow my roll or take a break from alcohol, the judgments crept in — sometimes casually, sometimes pointed. Once a friend pulled me aside at a party and compared me to the only person in the room who was sober by saying, “Don’t be like him, nobody likes him.”
You guys, that was a grown adult speaking to another grown adult — like a freakin’ middle schooler on the playground! And yet, the words stung and maybe I took a week-long break from alcohol but I certainly didn’t quit.
It was many, many years until I understood that I was the one perpetuating that judgment, not my friends.
Say whaaaat?? Let me break it down with a story of my younger days.
When I became a vegan at age 20, I was hella crazy righteous about it because I genuinely believed I was doing “the right thing” and I genuinely believed that everyone else in the world was wrong. How could anyone hurt animals? I had a little soapbox. I had PETA patches on my non-leather messenger bag. I was difficult at restaurants and coffee bars. I embodied judgment.
And guess how that went over? Yah . . . not so good! By judging everyone else and making their experiences uncomfortable, I did absolutely nothing to move humanity towards a kinder, gentler existence. I was just being a judgmental jerk.
In time, I learned not to be so outwardly outspoken/judgmental/soapbox-y, but I hadn’t yet grasped the idea of internal judgment. Which is to say, even after I figured out that nobody wanted a verbal lecture (who knew?!?) there was still a tone of judgment in my actions.
Fast forward to my alcohol days. When I was telling my rowdy party friends that I needed to stop drinking alcohol, I was subconsciously following that up with And I think you should too. I wasn’t saying those words out loud but I was thinking them, partly because I believed them and partly because I didn’t want to be doing it alone. We often judge others as a defense in preparation for expecting to be judged. People feel that energy even if we’re not saying anything out loud. And guess how that goes over? Yah . . . once again, NOT SO GOOD!!
I only lasted as a vegan for 4 years, but sobriety is a permanent aspect of my life. As such, I’m much more careful about how I speak about it because I never want to subconsciously push the agenda that I think everyone else should quit drinking. Yes, I’m online and social media channels sharing my opinions about positive sobriety but only to folks like you who want to hear to what I have to say.
The question of whether your friends will still like you when you get sober is real because you’ll be taking down a wall (Gray Area Drinking in order to loosen up in social situations) and becoming more raw, more real. That takes guts. The key is to have zero expectation that anyone will agree or follow suit and to find the courage to do it anyway.
It’s possible that this will mean taking a break from some of your usual drinking buddies. For now, just start to roll that idea around in your head. A break to catch your breath and get clear about who you want to be is not the same thing as suddenly losing all your friends. You can be different and still belong.
You are strong. You are beautiful. And there is no rule in life that says you have to do what everyone else is doing. Your real friends like and love you inside and out, no matter what.
Live in love 💛 and light 💡
P.S. That little goat lives in Letterkenny, Ireland. He got my attention because he was the only one far away from his herd, standing on a rock, baa-ing at me. Perhaps he reminded me of my younger soapbox-y self 🤣😂😅