David got sober while we were living in Italy. It wasn't a secret to any of our friends there, and everyone was supportive (for the most part). When we would hang out with friends, there usually wasn't alcohol around. We would plan our activities around this requirement for the first few months of sobriety. Then, slowly, it was easier to not worry if our friends were drinking at dinner. However, we never had to tell anyone the situation or explain why we weren't drinking. (I also don't drink because it doesn't serve me any longer).
(Dawson and David enjoying granite and brioche in Italy before our move)
Two and a half years later, we moved to England. We have been settling in here for about 4 months. We have slowly started to make friends. As a spouse, finding good people to connect with is crucial in those early days overseas. If not, it can be incredibly isolating. We did manage to find some activities for the kids right away!
(Charlotte enjoying her new play space in England)
I have been attending a weekly yoga class, and I had found a sunset yoga event and shared it with some of the women in my class. We all went out and had an amazing yoga session. I was invited along for a drink afterwards. Although these women knew that David was sober, I had never declared a stance either way. So, I made myself an excuse to back out early if necessary, and I agreed to go along.
(The kids and I on the plane during our PCS)
I ordered a flavored tonic water, and we ended up spending a couple of hours chatting and laughing about all sorts of things. The women were so kind and welcoming, and I enjoyed the company of someone other than my husband and kids (love you all!). In conversation a couple of days later, we were discussing Sober Vet Coffee. One of the women revealed that they weren't sure whether to invite me for a drink because they didn't know if I was also sober. This felt like a perfectly valid conundrum.
In reflecting on this thought, I realized that I wanted to share my personal feelings on this. First, I appreciate when people are concerned for the comfort of others. It shows compassion, which is a great trait for a friend. However, in hesitating to invite someone to an event due to their personal choices on drinking, non-drinkers can often become unintentionally excluded. This can further the stigma that sober people are "no fun".
(Charlotte and David having fun in the airport lounge during our PCS)
If you enjoy alcohol, it is usually not your entire personality. In a similar manner, being sober is not someone's entire personality. By dropping the stigma (and tip-toeing), some really great friendships could blossom! Instead, I encourage you to allow each person to determine their own comfort level based on the event of the day. Whether someone is sober or not, it is always kind to have non-alcoholic options and resist any pressure towards them to drink alcohol. Lastly, let people choose their beverage (alcoholic or not) without judgement, stigma, or never-ending questions!
(Dawson embracing his new home in England)