Health I stopped drinking completely for 2 years — and it showed me how the world treats sober people differently

20:56  10 july  2018
20:56  10 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

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I stopped drinking completely for 2 years — and it showed me how the world treats sober people differently . In the end, I learned how to get through it and deal with my own insecurities. About three years ago, I decided to give up drinking alcohol.

According to Al Jazeera, " Drinking is treated as the social lubricant to build workplace camaraderie, secure business deals and to earn trust. I stopped drinking completely for 2 years — and it showed me how the world treats sober people differently .

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About three years ago, I decided to give up drinking alcohol. The decision was a logical one: I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and found that many of the things I had enjoyed were now a source of pain with especially booze.

After drinking some wine with friends one night, then waking up feeling awful, I made up my mind: no more wine, no more liquor, no more beer. My health needed to be a priority, and so alcohol had to go. And, unfortunately, I quickly found that giving it up made me feel like a total outcast.

I was never a big drinker — in fact, I was the girl everyone teased for being such a lightweight. Due to my shy and introverted personality that has kept me from ever being the life of a party, I started drinking more in college so that I could be a little more "fun." I drank regularly, but never in excess; just enough so that I could let loose a bit and pretend to be more outgoing than I really was. At first, I assumed that not drinking would be easy for me, but I actually found the opposite to be true.

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I stopped drinking completely for 2 years — and it showed me how the world treats sober people differently . When I had to stop drinking for health reasons, I learned quickly how much alcohol can affect your social life.After drinking some wine with friends one night, then waking up feeling awful

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Explaining why I'm not drinking can be alienating.

Drinking alcohol is basically expected in certain situations and if you aren't partaking, people are going to ask you why. Simply saying, "I'm good tonight" isn't enough. People will demand reasons in a surprisingly pushy way. My closest friends know the deal, and they are wonderful, so none of them bug me about it — but that doesn't mean other people don't.

At some point, someone (an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, maybe even a total stranger) will inevitably ask why I'm still sober. In the beginning, when I was embarrassed by my condition, I would make excuses. If I said I was tired, they would roll their eyes, offering to buy me a shot. If I said I didn't feel well, they would quickly inch away, assuming I was contagious. If I said I couldn't mix alcohol with a medication I was on (which is true), they would offer me a story of when they mixed alcohol with medication, and they were fine, just fine.

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I stopped drinking completely for 2 years — and it showed me how the world treats sober people differently . When I had to stop drinking for health reasons, I learned quickly how much alcohol can affect your social life.After drinking some wine with friends one night, then waking up feeling awful

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Eventually, at some point, I grew tired of giving excuses that weren't working, and started saying, "I have a chronic stomach issue and alcohol bothers me too much." Sometimes people back off after that, literally — they are no longer interested in getting to know me. Most of the time, they pry. Try explaining a chronic digestive disease in a crowded place to someone who is tipsy without coming across as a total buzz-kill. It's not easy.

It's wild that people react this way because I'm certainly not the only person who has stopped drinking in their 20s. Just as one example, nearly 3.1 million people in the United Kingdom participated in Dry January, a challenge to become sober for the month of January.

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People tend to make me feel bad about the decision.

Several times, my statement that I'm not drinking has been met with someone saying something along the lines of, "Ugh, boring!" which, surprisingly, does not make me feel spectacular. More often than not, people seem slightly annoyed with the idea that I'm going to stay sober for the night. Every once in a while, someone seems personally offended that I won't let them buy me a drink, even after I become clean about the real reason.

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Once, I was on a press trip with a few girls I didn't know. At dinner, I declined a drink, and one girl tried to push me into ordering one. Finally, I said, "I actually don't drink." She raised her eyebrows, looked at her friend, and said, "Oh … that's interesting." They didn't speak to me for the rest of the night. Another time, a guy friend offered to buy me a shot. I said, "Thanks, but I don't drink." He said, "At all, or just tonight?" and I said, "At all." His friend smirked and said, "Wow, you sound like a lot of fun."

Those aren't the only two examples I have of people being unnecessarily rude when they find out I'm staying sober. It's weird that anyone cares at all, and maybe I should grow a thicker skin. But I'll admit that I am someone who usually cares about what others think, and the fact that some seem immediately turned off by my stance on alcohol makes me feel bummed out.

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Being sober forced me to deal with my social awkwardness.

Drinking, for me, was always about becoming a more social person — someone who could be fun instead of someone leaning against a wall, nervously hoping someone would talk to them. And it worked — when I drank, I didn't exactly become the life of the party, but I did loosen up. I laughed without worrying if people were looking at me, I danced when my friends pulled me onto the dance floor, and I started conversations with strangers. I made some of my best friends during long nights out, bonding in that way you only can when you're both a little too tipsy.

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When I gave up drinking, I knew I was giving up that side of myself too, which, in retrospect, is probably why it took me so long to do it. I knew that no longer being able to drink would change my social life. Some people can go out and have fun in a sweaty, over-crowded bar while they're sober, dancing the night away without a care in the world. Not me. Without the warm feeling a slight buzz, I feel uncomfortable and awkward, sure everyone else is thinking I look just as out of place as I feel.

At some point, I realized that maybe one of the biggest reasons I felt like an outcast when I was sober wasn't about what other people thought, but about me, and my own insecurities. Sure, it still stings when other people make me feel like a "loser" for not getting wasted, but after a while, it turned into something I could deal with a little bit more.

It took me over a year to get comfortable with my real self: a girl who likes to be with her friends, but who isn't great in a huge crowd, and someone who will likely never be the life of the party. I stopped trying to force myself to go out and accepted that maybe I just didn't want to go out. Maybe I liked quiet nights with friends or my fiance or my family members more than being in a bar — and that was okay.

I'll admit that there are still some weekend nights when I'm in bed by 11 p.m., and I feel almost guilty for not being out. But those nights are becoming fewer and further in between.

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I stayed totally sober for almost two years.

A few months ago, during a lapse in symptoms, I slowly started drinking again. Now I'm sometimes able to have a glass of wine or two, which is nice.

But even without the wine, I learned how to be a little bit less socially awkward without the aid of alcohol. Unless my digestive disease drastically changes, which I don't think it will, I'll never go back to drinking a lot. And, actually, I'm fine with that now — and it feels nice.

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6 Signs You Drink Too Much .
<p>Even if you’re not crushing 40s on weeknights, you might have a drinking problem. Here’s how to tell</p>Anyone who’s seen their normally shy co-worker dancing on the bar at the company party knows drinking can lower inhibitions. Getting drunk can come with repercussions far worse than feeling embarrassed - it can lead to risky decisions.

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