One of my main worries when I quit drinking was losing all my friends.
(See my post from way back in March: Will I Lose All My Friends?)
Then, just recently, it struck me that I've made more close friends over the last ten months than in the previous five years.
The reason we worry about losing friends is that for years we have equated friendships with drinking.
Alcohol is the rocket fuel of any gathering, the social lubricant, the leveller. It gives us the confidence, the wit and the energy to bond with our friends and attract new ones. Right?
Plus, we know how suspiciously we used to view any 'non-drinker'. We'd quickly wipe them off our list of potential new mates.
Now that's going to happen to us. Yikes! Social pariah!
Well, you know what? That's not how it works!
For a start, have a look at the 'big drinker' at the next party you go to. Are they surrounded by potential new buddies, cracking jokes and exuding bonhomie?
Maybe for a while at the beginning, but I bet that after a few hours people are avoiding them like the plague, and secretly sniggering as they become boorish and embarrassing.
The truth is that drinkers do not make great friends. Harsh, but true. At least it was of me.
Firstly, drink made me incredibly selfish.
I spent far too much time hungover, thinking about drinking, or actually drinking, to have much time left to consider anybody other than my immediate family.
If an old friend did manage to engage me in a conversation about anything important at a party I'd quickly move the topic on to something more frivolous (ideally about ME), and by the next day I'd have forgotten it entirely.
And I was a terrible person to sit next to at dinner.
Maybe I'd be quite fun during the starter, but by pudding I'd be rambling and repeating myself. If the person on one side was more 'boring' than the one on the other I'd ignore them entirely!
Despite all this, a fair number of my old friends (particularly the other big drinkers) have kindly stuck by me, but I'd made few good new friends.
But now? Not only am I a much better friend to those old mates - I genuinely care about what's going on in their lives, and I try to support them whenever I can - I also seem to be attracting a whole bunch of new ones.
For a start, I no longer dismiss anybody who doesn't drink much! Who knew sober(ish) people could be so fascinating!
I don't scare people away by being too loud, too brash, and too disinterested in anyone other than ME. I'm genuinely intrigued by other people's lives and what makes them tick.
But most of all, I think it's about the vibe you give off.
I wrote a post a while back called Smile and the World Smiles With You (click here), where I talked about radiators and drains.
When I drank I was a drain. Now I'm a radiator. And people gravitate towards radiators and avoid drains.
You may well lose some friends, but I bet that if you do, you'll realise that they were the ones with whom you had little in common, except for the drink.
And you'll make a bunch of new ones. Proper, life enhancing friends.
Plus, more importantly, you'll be a better person to know too.
Thank you so much to you all, for being my new friends. You're awesome.