My not drinking bothers friends

Though there are aspects of the writer’s social circle that I have some difficult relating to, this article does a really good job of describing the social mines one must navigate as a non-drinker:

I couldn’t figure out why the roommate kept bringing up my dryness that evening, but I suspect the threat of having a non-drinker in the midst is that, when folks are drinking together, everyone — except the abstainer — is going somewhere. Together. On a journey. Booze softens the edges. It massages the ache of unspoken words. It dissolves the perceived boundaries among people. When you’re sober, especially if you want to stay that way, you have to be at peace with where you are. You have to believe you’re already where you need to be.

There are a lot of young recovering drunks out there who could be benefit from their drinking peers’ acceptance and support — or at from their least social tact. I chalked up the roommate’s behavior to callousness or insecurity. Her nightlong needling didn’t send me shuttling to the bottle, but someone with less time sober might not have the same tools, the same carefully constructed self-respect, or the same support network as I.

For many, drinking versus not drinking is the difference between life and death. Harping on a vegetarian for not enjoying meat at a barbecue is galling and insensitive, but if the vegetarian breaks down and heads out for a hamburger after the party, she won’t die.

An addict who picks up a drink after being nit-picked by her peers might despair and throw herself off a building or just sink back into the groove of self-destruction and self-hatred that could come to define her life.