I was at a gathering last week and I had a beer for the first time since September. It tasted okay. When I first opened it, I took frequent sips, so I made an a conscious effort to slow down. After a long while of eating and talking, the beer was finished. The thought of getting a second one came and went throughout the rest of my time there. Each time, it did not take much effort to resist the urge. I wasn’t particularly enjoying the event and I knew that a second beer would not improve it and would only make getting a good night of sleep more challenging.
I feel a little bit of regret at letting go of my streak of alcohol-free days. Was it worth it? Not really, but on the other hand, I don’t feel like any harm was done either. As always, when a streak is over it will make the next time an opportunity arises to drink easier to say yes to.
But it is also a great opportunity to begin a new streak. Besides, it’s not about keeping score anyway. It’s about having a healthy relationship with alcohol. Which in my case I think is meandering ever more quickly into just saying no all the time. I’m just not seeing any added value to having alcohol in my life.
The other thing that became clear to me again was that I often don’t enjoy social gatherings. This tendency might be on the rise as I get older. For one thing, my aging ears just can’t separate the cacophony of voices enough to follow along with what’s going on.
But, I do love people. I love good conversation. I love sharing laughter, stories, and wisdom. I will walk beside you for miles to talk, but I’d rather not be in a room full of people all vying to be heard.
But more than remembering something I’ve known about myself for a long time now, I realized that it is okay for me to feel this way. I don’t have to like hanging out with a crowd. Which in my case, means more than a handful of people.
I like nothing better than the quiet parts of my day. I relish early morning hours of meditation and writing and sitting in bed at night with the lights down low reading a good book. It’s not what everyone likes, but it’s what I like and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Where I get myself into trouble is that I do need human interaction and I don’t do enough to meet this need in a way that works for me. Instead of reaching out to go for a walk or sit down and have a cup of coffee with people I enjoy, I default to showing up at social gathering where they will be. At these events, I never get to really connect with them unless we migrate into the margins of the party.
I know what I need to do. First, be okay with not being okay with social gatherings. Next, make the effort to connect with others in ways that feel right to me.
So give me a call and let’s meet at the coffee shop or go for a hike, but please don’t feel slighted if I choose not to show up at the party.