I knew I had to be honest with people. I was not prepared to live a lie any longer. I knew there was a danger that family and friends would not be able to accept my new identity, my new way of life, but I could no longer live a life of secrecy and shame. It was time to come out the closet.
I was nervous. Would I be accepted? Would friends turn on me? What about my sons, would they now feel embarrassed by their dad’s new way of life. I knew I’d face predjudice, incredulity, mockery even hostility for what I was about to tell people. “But Jim, please give it some time, it might just be a phase, you could be back to normal in a few days.” I could hear the possible words that would be directed at me swimming around my head.
“Jim, you’ve spent too much time hanging out with those strange types on the internet, they’ve warped your thinking, influenced you, made you feel you are different than you really are. Jim for God’s sake, turn back before it’s too late.” Maybe they would say that, but my mind was made up.
I decided to make my announcement to a friend in a pub last Friday. I could tell she knew I had something monumental to say. I poured myself some water. I tried to speak but my mouth was dry. My hands were trembling. My friend took my hand, took a huge gulp of her red wine, looked me in the eye and said, “Jim, you know you can tell me anything.”
This was the moment. I knew my friend would relay what I was about to say to her, to my other friends. One way or another I would be out the closet and it would be a relief. I coughed, straightened up and hesitated. I couldn’t do it. My friend was now highly concerned for me. Thinking she was changing the subject she said, “Shall I order a bottle of the Merlot Jim, I’ve nearly finished my glass and you haven’t had anything yet? Yeh let’s get a bottle, we can leave the car here and I’ll drop you home in the taxi.”
I couldn’t take it any longer. It just came out, “I’m not bloody drinking, alright. I’ve stopped, that’s it. Finito. Don’t keep asking me. I don’t drink. I have stopped drinking. I’m identifying as sober! Go on reject me, tell me to fuck off you freak, I don’t care any more. Just leave me alone.” I sobbed.
“Jim, take it easy, I only asked if you fancied some wine. Is that why you’ve been a bit tense, a bit odd?”
“Er yes it is actually, that’s my big announcement.you don’t seem shocked.”
She wasn’t. We ordered our food.
And that was it. I was accused by my friend of being a drama queen but otherwise my friend thought it was amazing that I hadn’t had a drink for ten weeks and was now determined to carry on Alcohol Free.
I went home and then told my partner. She said she thought it was a good idea. “Well done,” she said.
I emerged from my sober closet and the world just carried on. It was all rather underwhelming. I, on the other hand, felt great. I had my new identity.
To make it sound cool I call myself a Soberista, as if I am some kind of revolutionary alcohol free Mexican hell raiser. Again a little over dramatic, but why not.
I’ve emerged from the alcohol closet, I’m a Soberista and I’m proud!