The big game is coming up, and we have been invited to a gathering. I’m going to go, but I’m a bit nervous.

We recently relocated, and I’m looking forward to meeting my husband’s co-workers and their families who will be at the party, but what I’m not looking forward to is explaining to a whole new group of people why I say “no thank you” to alcohol. In fact, if they didn’t know better, I’d just tell them I’m a designated driver, because at least people don’t balk at that.

The truth is I don’t drink, and for some reason, that’s a big honkin’ deal to a lot of people.

When offered a drink, I generally respond with something like, “How about ice tea please?” But no matter how I phrase it, about 90% of the time, I get pushback. The person offering asks if I want a shot in my ice tea, or suggests a beer instead, and ends up asking my why I don’t want alcohol.

Folks, it doesn’t matter.

Just for the record, I don’t drink because my body hates me when I do, also known as alcohol intolerance. I get diarrhea, vomiting and migraines, often with as little as one strong drink or two regular drinks, and many types of alcohol give me hives. In other words, it sucks to drink. Even after explaining that, which I often do because the person asking won’t drop the subject, I get razzed to just have one.

If I was pregnant, taking medication, a recovering alcoholic, had personal beliefs about it, or had a health condition which was not compatible with alcohol, it wouldn’t be your business either.

Nor would it be if I just didn’t feel like having one tonight.

From my perspective as a person who doesn’t drink, there’s a weird culture around alcohol. People seem incredibly uncomfortable with someone who doesn’t drink with them. I’m not sure why, it could be that a decrease in their inhibitions just makes people nosier, but it’s incredibly consistent across the board. I wonder if people think I’m judging them for drinking, or if I think I’m holier than thou for not drinking, or if there’s just some weird insecurity about being around someone who doesn’t have a buzz when you do. Frankly, unless you hop in the driver’s seat and take off while you’re under the influence, I could not find it in me to care less about your drinking habits.

And man would I love it if that was reciprocated.

Take it from me, if your friend declines a drink, don’t worry about why, just smile and give her an ice tea or Sprite and enjoy her company. I can guarantee it will be appreciated.

Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on https://benswritingrunningmom.wordpress.com/. She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.