It’s that moment every recovering alcoholic hates. You’re sitting around your office surrounded by co-workers and one of them yells, “Hey let’s hit happy hour after work!” Instinctively you shout, “Yeah!” but inside you get that sinking feeling in your stomach.
The Moment of Truth
Not joining in the fun would make you look like a snob or a stick in the mud, so off to the bar you go.
Everyone orders a cocktail and you softly whisper to the bartender, “Cranberry and seltzer with a lime please.” This is the sober alcoholic’s “go-to” drink…it masquerades as a vodka cranberry with a splash.
Unfortunately for you, that really annoying guy from accounting overhears your drink order. “Why aren’t you drinking?” You suddenly realize that all eyes are on you, thanks to the loudmouth from accounting. And without so much as a warning, you’re forced to choose between two not-so-enjoyable options:
Do you tell them about the company picnic at your last job? You know, the one where you drank eight margaritas and gave your boss a lap dance, only to find out later that several shirtless pictures of you ended up on the T drive of your company server?
Or make up a lame excuse like you’re finishing a round of antibiotics even though you haven’t been out sick, which may lead them to believe you contracted an STD.
Ahhh…to break or not to break your sober anonymity; that is the question.
Revealing Your Secrets
Despite lifestyle changes, choice of friends and local patronage, something related to your newfound sobriety will undoubtedly take you by surprise. Though you can’t prepare for all of life’s little twists and turns, you can decide whether or not you’re comfortable with revealing your journey into sobriety.
Despite lifestyle changes, choice of friends and local patronage, something related to your newfound sobriety will undoubtedly take you by surprise.
Weighing Your Available Options
To help you make the best and most informed decision, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of “unmasking” yourself.
- Once the cat’s out of the bag, you don’t have to go through that awkward, anxious moment at the bar ever again.
- People may respect you for admitting you had a problem and having the courage to get help.
- You’re seen in a more respectable light by your co-workers. Sober people often show great leadership skills in recovery.
- Perhaps a friend or co-worker is battling powerlessness over their drinking and need to see an example of what sobriety can look like, dispelling the myth of old men in trench coats sitting around a church basement smoking cigarettes and talkin’ ‘bout the good ol’ days.
- Your colleagues mock you and your sobriety becomes the office joke.
- A co-worker or superior sees your sobriety as a weakness and passes you up for a promotion or the next exciting project.
- You don’t want anyone treating you any different.
- You don’t want to make anyone else feel like they can’t have a good time around you.
The Sobriety Wrap-Up
The good news is that, as sober people, we can access our intuition again. And you’ll definitely need it for this decision.
First and foremost, you’ll want to step back and evaluate your colleagues and friends; assess their knowledge of alcoholism and overall maturity levels. Ask yourself whether or not he/she seems like someone who would understand where you’re coming from.
If you decide that sharing your sobriety is not the best decision, then you’ll need to come up with a response that feels comfortable when faced with that inevitable question, “Why aren’t you drinking?”
In the end, what you reveal about your recovery and how you respond to others doesn’t have to be painful or elaborate. Truth be told, when the jerk from accounting asks you why you’re passing on an after-work cocktail, all you really need to say is something simple like, “I don’t feel like it tonight.”
Additional Reading: 11 Small Changes that Make a Big Impact on Recovery
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