Ever since I decided not to drink, I’ve feared being found out by my family and friends. I don’t want to confirm what I’m sure has long been their quiet belief: that I have a drinking problem. I figured I’d either hide out at home on weekends, claim I’m on a cleanse, or just meet friends for “coffee” for the rest of my days, rather than brave the discomfort of being a new-non-drinker in a crowd of friends. I don’t want to be under the microscope and I loathe the idea of giving certain acquaintances the satisfaction of knowing I’m an alcoholic.
My biggest social worry has been that someone would make a big deal of it, draw attention to me, and ask a bunch of prying questions. My husband, my sponsor and many people in meetings have told me that it would never happen. That “it doesn’t matter to those who matter” and “nobody really notices or cares if you’re not drinking”.
Well guess what? That was a load of crap, because my fear was fully realized this weekend in front of my entire family… my kids included.
On Saturday night, my mom hosted a small dinner party for my nephew who had just returned from serving in the Middle East for 8 months. There were about 15 of us at her house, mostly my teenage nieces and nephews.
This was the third time I’ve been with my older sister since I quit. She’s not a big drinker, so it’s been somewhat easy not to drink when she comes to visit. On Saturday night, she was holding court with most of the kids in the dining room when I walked in with a glass of seltzer.
Sister: “You’re STILLLLL on the wagon?!?!? Oh my god!! Mike, can you believe it??? Petunias still not drinking!! (Marine,) did you know that?!? Aunt Petunia’s no fun anymore… she’s been on the wagon!!!!”
All I could say was, “Even tho I’m not drinking, I’m still a hell of a lot more fun than you”, and i walked back into the kitchen.
But she wouldn’t shut the hell up. In her big loud obnoxious voice, I heard her saying to my 13 year old daughter, “Susie, did you hear??? Mommy’s on the wagon. Mommy doesn’t drink anymore!!!”
It was like having my pants pulled down in the middle of a crowded room. I felt so exposed and naked.
The fact that I didn’t rip her fat head off her shoulders right then truly is a miracle of sobriety.
I walked back in as each of the kids (ages 13-22) simultaneously was asking questions….
“Oh no, Aunt Petunia!! Why??? What happened???”
“Really Mommy??? Why?? Are you okay???!!”
“What made you do that?? I can’t believe it!!”
“Wow. Aunt P, congratulations. That’s awesome.” (from the marine who has seen enough of the damage alcohol can do)
I wanted to cry/slap her/run to my old bedroom and lock the door/tell her to go F herself and focus instead on her obvious prescription drug problem. Any of the above. But, I chose D, none of the above. Instead, in a voice full of as much venom and seriousness I could muster, I said “It’s not something I need to talk about when my kids are here.” I’m pretty sure the look on my face let her know I’d have no problem laying her out if she said another word. I just told the kids it’s no big deal and I’m not talking about it.
That was the end of the conversation. A few minutes later, she mouthed “I’m so sorry,” but too late. The genie is out of the bottle. My kids now know that I’m not drinking and it’s a big newsy deal. Who the hell does that to someone tho??? What the hell would prompt someone to be so damn tacky and invasive?? It truly was a scenario I feared coming to life. Right in front of my children!! Awful.
Just tonight, I received an invitation to dinner with about 6 couples later in the month. One husband in particular is the same breed of loud mouth as my sister…. no tact, loves to be center stage, fancies himself to be Dr Phil and asks prying questions. Now that I’ve endured my sister being such an ass, how can I not expect this guy to do the same hung???
Any ideas on how to handle this dinner party? I’m tempted to skip it, but I have made excuses for the last 3-4 get togethers. I’d like to get out of my self-imposed social timeout, but I do not want to be studied and quizzed like some carnival freak. If anyone has experience with this sort of “friend” or family member, I’d love some pointers. In the meantime, I’m adding this one little resentment to my list 😉