My friend Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind, emailed me with this question, which I answered since I have direct experience. Here’s the question:
Here’s Annie’s (my) answer:
My actual answer:
That was one of my biggest concerns at the thought of stopping (little monster really likes that kind of concern… :-))
I needed to make sure I had the right attitude. When I told Jim I was stopping, he made it clear that he was happy for me, but that he had no intention whatsoever of ever stopping, and I understood that. He is a much better controlled drinker than I ever was, and if he chooses to drink, that’s his business. So, especially during those first few weeks when I was starving the beast, I was really careful to not push my agenda on him. I was especially careful to not make him feel guilty or defensive, which he kinda did anyway in the early days. I did not want to be a bitch or try to change him. I especially did not want to be some humorless sober (hate that word) bitch. I was the one who was changing; he didn’t need to.
I was consciously upbeat. If I did bring up my not drinking it was to exclaim how great I felt, or how much funnier things appeared, or how much more fun I was having, or how delicious my latest non-ethanol drink discovery was. Even when I’d get depressed, I could say how I was amazed at how clear my feelings were, even when they sucked, and how I now understand what I was doing with the drinking.
I made it a point to have regular cocktail time, same as we always have, only I make and drink my switchflippers instead of having gin. And BTW, I am so happy to have my Q tonic with juniper extract and a lemon squeeze, or my seltzer and elderflower and ginger drink. I’m a gourmet drink-maker, and I make and drink the same compulsive way I did with booze while making dinner and such. Still schmooze, just no booze. Fortunately I never liked beer… If he drank my drink, it might have been harder. After the first month or so of my not drinking, his drinking lessened and now he seems to drink less overall.
So here’s the deal with somebody else’s drinking inciting the monster. And it is exactly that – just another excuse your brain will use to try to get a fix. Awareness of that fact is key. Who’s in charge here? You or the monster? If my spouse chooses to drink, that’s his business. I can even feel a little smug about the fact that I’m enjoying freedom while he’s still a slave to Bud. Though I’d never point that out; I don’t need to.
If you are absolute in your resolve, and recognize that little voice for what it is, then anyone else’s drinking shouldn’t bother you.