I gave little thought and even less attention to sober people, dismissing them as boring, uninteresting and incomprehensible. They could have been from a different planet and I felt grateful I was not burdened by their varied reasons for not drinking. I could drink whatever and whenever I wanted. And that’s exactly what I did.
Transiently, as I really enjoyed and needed my wine, I felt sorry for them. What was the point in a night out without booze? How many diet Cokes would you want to drink? ‘Normal’ drinks follow conventional rules and the law of diminishing returns: the first one is great and does all you hoped, but subsequent drinks, much less so. As your needs are met and their on-going appeal diminishes. Whatever their reasons for not drinking I thought it a shame these sober people were missing out, but accepted it was their own business and they could do as they pleased day to day.
At times I felt truly horrified at the thought of them not drinking at key events. Why would a bride decide not to drink on her wedding day? Why would a new mother not celebrate the birth of her baby with a glass of something fizzy? What about getting promoted? How could any true occasion be celebrated without alcohol to make these good times better? I shuddered to think.
As I was tried and failed to moderate, not yet ready to consider giving up totally myself, I watched sober people with a new sense of awe and admiration. Not only did they not drink alcohol, they appeared content with their ways and looked happy.
As I gave up alcohol, sober people became aspirational to me. I was the new member of their club. I had huge respect for them and wanted what they had. I found myself commenting on the many positive aspects of sober behaviour, all of which they had known for years. It reminded me of getting my first smartphone three years after all my friends and marvelling at downloading music while reading a book: they smiled indulgently as I had ‘got it’ at last.
After almost two years of sobriety I can understand why brides, mothers, and others choose not to blur great moments with alcohol, or prevent memories being made. They need not be transported to some mythical, magical plane, preferring instead to remain grounded in their lives, fully present at these moments, to experience them entirely.
First impressions are important, but are not always correct.