Sometimes you can be the loudest, funniest, and coolest one at the party, and at some point still feel all alone. Still be the one feeling like “Baby” stashed in a corner, behind a plant…trying to figure out where you fit in. Hoping no one asks if you want a drink. Please. Please don’t ask if I want a drink.

That was some random thought I had written down. At a party. Where maybe one or two folks I actually knew were present. Where the majority of them were on the dance floor. Drinks in hand. All seeming to be having the time of their lives. While I sat behind a plant. In a corner. Wondering if a drink would make me feel like I belonged.

I wasn’t always this way. I was for a good part of my late teens (yes…late teens) and well into my early 30s the one dancing. With drink in hand. Maybe even on a “good” night, two in hand. And…if I was really slick. I could hide them just enough so any picture taken? Yep. No one would know.

I was the mom who downed a bottle of wine before her kids were off the bus. Knowing I had enough time for the buzz to wear off before the hubs got home. Figuring the kids were too young to notice.

I broke things after drunken wine festivals. I justified my long days spent “out” to my love-“I’ve got a lot on my plate.”

I planned entire weekends around my next drink. And my Sunday’s around the bathroom.

I needed to escape. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to forget all the junk. Even if for just a little bit.

I was the life of the party, because for those moments I could forget about all that was life.

I was the life of the party, yet still so lonely.

And so I get it. I get why people become drawn to food. To booze. To drugs. To drown out those feelings of loneliness. Inadequacy. Overwhelm.

They are the reasons I started drinking. They are also the exact reasons I stopped.

Because I didn’t want alcohol to be the fuel that drove me to make a connection with someone. Because I didn’t want my social interactions to be obscured by cloudy judgment. Because, if I’m honest…my inability to feel like I belonged in those spaces made me overcompensate. I was downright obnoxious. Loud. And rude.

I didn’t want to feel like I needed a drink to be accepted.

I didn’t want to numb feelings that would still be there when I woke.

Because I finally started to see that the end of the bottle was not the end of all my problems.

And it took me some time to get to the point where I can walk in a room, and own the place. Water bottle and all.

Yet, there are still times I don’t. Still times I feel so, so lonely.

While my choice to not partake makes me seem like a prude to some. May have people looking sideways at me because, my goodness…you don’t have a cocktail after those crazy days you have??? (Nope. Nope. I don’t). May have others believe I am silently judging their choice to do so.

It’s simply not good for me. And what’s not good for me shouldn’t leave me feeling lonely.

So, keep inviting me to your parties. To happy hour. To your wedding with the open bar.

Just be OK with me if I decline, because the temptation to take the edge off the “social jitters” may be too much. Or if I show up and only order water. Please don’t convince me to have another drink. Because I know I can’t stop at one.

Please help me to feel accepted in that corner. Behind that plant. While I tap my foot, just trying not to dance.

Please invite me out on that dance floor.

Just please don’t ask me to drink.

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