I just read a post from Storm in a Wineglass. I really admire Anna – she has a great blog if you want to follow her. It made me think about disclosure, honesty and telling other people (or not).
I still keep my cards pretty close to my chest about quitting alcohol – and I don’t see that changing soon.
Some of my close friends and health workers know why I’ve stopped drinking. There are other friends that I will tell but there just hasn’t been a good time. I need enough time with them to get past small talk and to be in a private space. And these days most of my best friends live in other cities and I don’t want to tell them via text messages or emails.
So my rule of thumb at the moment is that I tell people if it helps me. Telling close friends brings me closer to them, it gives me support and it makes things less awkward in social situations when you’d normally be drinking.
BUT I don’t feel the need to confess my sins to everyone. It’s not about shame. It’s not about hiding. It’s about being aware that I can’t un-tell people or control what happens with the information afterwards. In most social boozey situations I usually:
- Deflect: I’m OK for now thanks.
- Tell half-truths or white lies: I’m not drinking during OcSober/FebFast/Dry July (technically true); Oh I drove today (true – but irrelevant); No thanks – I’m training for a marathon (also true – but irrelevant).
- Use camouflage: When I’m holding a no-alcohol beer, drink or glass people rarely pay attention to what it is.
I’ve learned that in social situations most people don’t pay attention to what I’m drinking – they just want to see a glass in my hand. Most people just don’t care.
I also haven’t told my co-workers because things can affect my work reputation… I’m aware that it can be a stigmatised issue. I don’t think it should be and I don’t think that’s right – but I realise that it can be. So I treat the issue carefully – especially because I work in a conservative hospital health care environment.
Being open and honest can help other people and change community stigma. I know that. As a young gay kid I quickly learned from older Queers that the most important political act you can do is to be open about yourself to your friends, family, workmates and neighbours… If it’s safe.
But right now, I’m still in the relative early stages of recovery and I am my priority. I choose to be choosy. I tell people who can help me – and at times when it suits me.
Down the track I probably will be more open. But by giving myself some more time, I hope that I’ll be more confident and more able to deal with whatever happens.