I have been struggling lately with telling my close friends that I am now sober for good. To people that I’m not very close to, I just say I’m not drinking that night. However, to the friends that I feel really know me, I find it difficult not to fill them in on what has happened.
My dad and I have been arguing about this topic, whether or not to tell people you’re an alcoholic. I’ve tried to explain that right now I am referring to those that I am close to, not my future employer or a casual acquaintance. I agree with his point that it is fundamentally difficult for non-alcoholics to understand that alcoholism is a disease, not a character flaw or a result of poor circumstances.
I want to tell them, my good friends, so that they can understand the real me. And maybe, by knowing me, their perceptions of what alcoholism may change for the better.
In general, the reaction has been to try to talk me out of it. I realize that it’s just because they can’t understand what it’s like because they do have that off-switch for alcohol.
At one point when I was talking about it after a meeting with my roommate, I mentioned that I always felt scared before I started drinking. Scared because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to control my drinking once I started and the negative consequences that I knew could result based on my past experience.
She said that it was this part of my explanation that helped everything make sense. So I thought to myself, “Great, I’ve found the secret! I just have to explain how I always felt scared before drinking and my other conversations will go much easier”.
Turns out this was not exactly the case, but I realize I have to be patient, that each person is different. I read a suggestion to tell someone close to you that you’re an alcoholic in a letter. I think I might try this, can’t hurt right?
I have to remind myself that my intention should not be to make my friends feel sorry for me, although I will be honest I fall into this trap. I also can’t tell them with the expectation that they will adjust their lifestyles to benefit me.
There was a very funny article I read that made me feel normal and laugh about the reactions I’ve received. I hope that you check it out and enjoy it as much as I did!