I found this little letter to Miss Manners and was thinking about my experiences with this. My friends and family know that I'm in recovery, so it's not too often that I'm either offered a drink, or questioned about why I don't drink. But honestly, it really doesn't bother me when either happens. I'm comfortable with who I am and where I am.
I was at a gathering recently and an acquaintance was having a glass of wine. We were chatting, and she suddenly remembered that I'm an alcoholic. She was apologetic, and felt very badly for not having considered my feelings before drinking in front of me. This is very sweet, but completely unnecessary.
I have come across this kind of thinking before, where people worry about tempting someone by drinking near them. I don't want to to sound snooty, as if I have my life all nailed down, but if all it took for me to go back to the hell of alcoholism was the mere presence of alcohol, I'd be screwed.
Years ago I was at a dinner for Tom's work, and one of the other wives offered 'helpful' advice that maybe I could drink again someday. I guess she thought that some time off would give me back control over alcohol. This is not only misguided, but very dangerous and stupid advice.
Alcoholism is not the only reason that some people choose not to drink. As mentioned in the link, there are other health issues (my husband has one) or family history that lead people to abstain. It's none of anyone's business why someone doesn't drink. I also find it silly when people try to convince me that I could drink again, or just have a little, or whatever other harebrained idea they've got. I know my friends are smarter than this, but if someone out there has ever had that thought, let me relieve you of it now. If your friend or loved one is an alcoholic, their disease already tries to convince them that they could drink successfully again someday. Please don't tell them that they are not an alcoholic. Even if they are wrong, it doesn't hurt them to think it and not drink. I have accepted that I can never drink again and other people need to accept that too, and let it go.