update: my coworkers mercilessly tease me about my drunken holiday party behavior

Remember the letter-writer who got blackout drunk at her company holiday party and her coworkers wouldn’t stop joking about it? She was mortified because she’d realized that she had a drinking problem and needed to get help, but people at work were treating it like a hilarious joke, not realizing that it was a painful episode for her. Here’s the update.

In February, you gave me advice on how to stop my coworkers from teasing me after I got embarrassingly drunk at my holiday party. I wanted to send you an update about how it all went down.

I decided to talk directly to my coworkers instead of my manager. (I just thought my manager would either be unsympathetic or feel really bad since he had exacerbated the teasing by sending around that video of me.) After someone would bring it up, I’d privately speak to them. With two people I was honest about the alcoholism stuff, because I knew them well enough to think they’d understand. With most people, I said something along the lines of, “Gosh I was such a mess that that night! I can see why it’s so funny, although you can imagine I’m quite embarrassed. Actually, I was hoping we could put it to rest at this point. Could you help me out by changing the conversation when it comes up?”

Almost everyone responded well to this, and the teasing dropped off very quickly once I had asked 4 or 5 people to stop. It has come up occasionally since then, but it’s at a level I can deal with. Beyond that, my professional reputation doesn’t appear to have sustained any long-term damage, as I’ve been taking on more responsibility with great success.

So, my situation is resolved! Thank you for your excellent advice and for the compassion from all the commenters. I had intended to come back and reply to each comment individually but I became overwhelmed and, frankly, was not ready to accept so much understanding when I was feeling so much self-loathing. But I did read every single one, multiple times, and I really appreciate the support.

On that note… I’m up to four months sober. Learning to live without alcohol has been really hard and my life is pretty crappy right now, to be honest. But I don’t ever want to be in that situation again, so I’m sticking with it. Hopefully some day I will look back on this and be grateful it happened, since it prompted me to change.

Anyway, thank you for all the advice.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

    1. Sara M*

      Me too. Keep it up, OP!

      This stranger on the internet is really proud of you. *hugs*

      1. Mabel*

        Me, too (proud of you)! I have my struggles with alcohol, and in really motivated by not wanting to be the drunken mess who is humiliated the next day by her behavior. It’s been going mostly pretty well, but some days are harder than others.

  1. never comments always reads*

    Just wanted to give a big thumbs up to the OP for speaking up and for four months sober.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Me too! Hope you’re proud of yourself, OP, that’s awesome work all round – especially scary to be talking to people about it, but that makes it even better work. Go OP!

  2. neverjaunty*

    You can’t see it, LW, but I am doing a super dorky dance of happiness for you. Good for you for getting in the right path for you.

    1. JessaB*

      Joining neverjaunty and doing the Snoopy dance for your months of sobriety. Yay you. And great that the people at work were willing to listen and stop it. It takes a lot of courage to actually talk to people who are making fun of you. Yay you. Go you.

  3. Katniss*

    OP, so proud of you both for the sobriety and for the way you handled things at work. From one person in recovery to another, congrats! Celebrate your victory and sobriety, because you deserve to be proud of yourself for it!

  4. INTP*

    Great update! I’m happy that the coworkers had the discretion and compassion to help OP move past this topic, and thumbs up to OP for 4 months sober.

  5. Katie F*

    OP, proud of you for staying sober. I know it’s roughest to hold onto sobriety when things aren’t going great in your life, so you’re doubly strong for holding out even so! I’m also glad your coworkers all responded so well to asking them to stop. I think a lot of the time people just really don’t remember to empathize when it comes to these sorts of things because it’s not something they’ve gone through – once it’s pointed out to them, most people are really willing to do whatever it takes to keep the atmosphere comfortable/free of tension.

  6. Aurion*

    OP, you handled this issue with a lot of grace. Congrats on the four month milestone, and best of luck. Be proud of yourself. :)

  7. Green*

    Congratulations on your sobriety! When you’re feeling bad about yourself or your life, one thing I do is to actively seek out a good deed to do in that moment. It can be small — even just taking your dog (or one at the shelter!) for a walk. It’s hard to feel too down on yourself when you know that you’re someone’s hero of the day. :)

      1. KimmieSue*

        I love this too! I’m sharing it with others. Had a grumpy morning myself. Going to take this advice immediately!!!

    1. Anon for this*

      Hey OP, speaking as another Friend of Bill, I like Green’s suggestion. Isn’t there a step related to being of service to others? ;)
      Congrats on your sobriety! 4 months is a big deal! Keep coming back!

      1. Another Friend of Bill's*

        Congratulations on your sobriety and on asking for help with this situation. Thank you for sharing your update with us. Celebrating 26 years myself. One day at a time. Sending peace and serenity.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I’m almost 20 years into my recovery at this point, and my occupational therapist in rehab gave me the same advice. It’s been critical to my recovery and I believe it’s completely changed my life for the better. OP, I am so happy for you and so proud of you. Making the commitment to recovery is incredibly hard – you can do this!

      Continued good wishes for your journey in sobriety.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Here’s another small thing you can do as that good deed (my therapist for my depression had me doing the same thing–focus on something good you’ve done–it’s surprisingly powerful).

      Give a genuine compliment to someone around you. Some small thing they did well–clear communication in an email; the way they were kind to someone around them. You like their handwriting. They keep you in the loop well. They parked really smoothly in the parking lot at the grocery store. You like their laugh; it cheers you up. Anything.

      The secret is to get really granular and specific, so it feels genuine to you AND to them.

    4. Jean*

      I’ll remember this thread the next time I’m feeling sorry for myself and all alone in my self-pity because nobody else could ever possibly be as supremely, enormously, infinitely unhappy. (Self-pity has a way of exaggerating.) Here’s proof that other people also try to sidestep or subdue their misery by the seemingly counterintuitive technique of doing something nice for someone _else_.

      Special thanks to Green for asking the question and TootsNYC for the idea that giving a sincere, unexpected compliment can be a good deed.

      1. Green*

        Glad you guys liked the suggestion! It doesn’t always completely lift me out of a funk, but it definitely stops the downward spiral. And instead of picking something for my New Year’s resolution that was focused on “fixing” something bad about me, I picked doing 52 good deeds this year. That list is also something I can look back on when I’m feeling low and start focusing on the next good deed. :)

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          I never actually realised that the cause and effect between “random act of kindness” and my own mental health, even though I try to do them in general (probably because I focus on myself as a bad person) so that was super-helpful to hear, thank you.

  8. I'm Not Lisa*

    Amazing update! I am so proud of OP for handling this so well. I know it could not have been easy. It must have taken a lot of courage to deal with the co-workers in such a mature and professional way.

    As for the sobriety, I am so happy to hear what great progress you are making. You really should be proud of yourself for being so strong.

    You are just plain awesome!

  9. Ell*

    You definitely handled this beautifully! I’m sorry live is crappy right now, I wish you happiness and peace.

  10. Tomato Frog*

    This is a great testament to the utility of direct communication and of approaching people as if they’re thoughtless but well-intentioned, rather than malicious. Nicely handled, OP.

  11. Lily in NYC*

    Congrats on being 4 months sober! That is quite an accomplishment and it must be really hard.

  12. JMegan*

    Amazing. This whole update is amazing. You handled the situation at work with grace and dignity, AND you got a positive outcome from your coworkers. Those are two different hurrahs there, one for you and one for your coworkers.

    And a huge one just for you on the four months of sobriety. You have done – and are still doing – a really big thing. Congratulations, and I wish you all the success in the future!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed. Very impressive. OP, you advocated for yourself on two levels, one with your cohorts and two by investing in treatment for yourself.
      You know, when others treat us poorly that is one type of problem. But when we do not take care of ourselves (whatever care that is necessary) that is a much bigger problem. Your two pronged approach here is exemplary.

      Rock on.

  13. Be the Change*

    Congratulations and thanks so much for coming back to tell us what happened. I think I can speak for most if not all of the commentariat here in saying, talk to us any time you need to.

  14. Pokebunny*

    Yay OP!

    EDIT: Alison, when I hit that Submit button, it takes me to a page with the message “Sorry, but you are commenting to fast.”

    I don’t comment to fast! I stop eating for a day to fast! :D

  15. Sadsack*

    Thanks for the update. I am glad that you are now sober, and hope you have continued success at it.

  16. Cafe au Lait*

    My Papaw was an alcoholic. He told me that on days he wanted to drink early in his sobriety, he’d pick a four-hour increment and bet himself that he wouldn’t drink during that window. The short time length+desire to beat his bet got him through the worst of the cravings.

    Go you! You’re doing great.

    1. JessaB*

      Yes and put the bet (even if it’s a quarter,) in a jar, and when you have a few bucks take yourself to do something special with it (whether a movie, or out to eat, or a giant tub of chocolate ice cream, or whatever it is that give you joy.)

    2. Another Friend of Bill's*

      My favorite slogan is “Don’t give up ten minutes before the miracle happens.” I would literally watch the clock for ten minutes sometimes. Then I would make a phone call or find a meeting or empty the dishwasher (hands to work/heart to God) and the feeling would pass.

  17. Sparkles*

    This is a great update. Congratulations on your handling this well, and your four months of sobriety. We’re rooting for you!

  18. JMegan*

    Just re-read your letter, and I think this

    Could you help me out by changing the conversation when it comes up?

    is a stroke of genius. You gave each person an easy out, by suggesting that it wasn’t them, it was all those other people doing the teasing. You made everyone part of the solution, without directly telling anyone that they were part of the problem. And not in a passive-aggressive way, just a tactful one that allowed everyone to save face. Well done!

    1. AnonInSC*

      Yes. Very smart.

      And congratulations on your sobriety. You have a pretty awesome corner of the internet cheering for you.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yes, this is great! I remember commenting on this letter because I had a similar embarrassing drunken incident (not at work, thankfully) and enlisted a close friend to get it to stop by doing the same thing. Glad it worked well for you, too, OP!

      And congrats on 4 months of sobriety! That’s really awesome, you should be proud!

  19. Indy, Jenn, and Hannah*

    Best update ever, glad that people responded so kindly and glad that you have your sobriety. Hugs from me and my cats and support from us too.

    Person who also had to reevaluate her relationship with alcohol.

  20. Liza*

    Congratulations, OP–both for talking to your coworkers, and for being in recovery now! I’m glad that your coworkers responded well. I hope the rough parts get easier soon.

  21. Joan Callamezzo*

    Congrats on your sobriety, OP, and the professional way you handled your co-workers. Hope things continue to get better for you.

  22. RunDMC123*

    Congratulations! It may be a day-to-day struggle or adjusting to a new life style but you sound like you are holding strong and taking the necessary steps. Very proud of you! Both in how you conduct yourself at work and realizing that you had a problem and working to better yourself. Glad your coworkers responded well and have backed off.

  23. Bigglesworth*

    So proud of you, OP! You’re 1/3 of the way through being sober for a year. That’s a huge milestone! You can do this!

  24. Teapot Unionist*

    First time commenter, coming out of lurking to tell the OP how proud I am of her! 4 months sober is a great accomplishment, as is finding the strength to advocate for yourself, especially after an embarrassing incident.

  25. Former Avon Sales Rep*

    OP, congratulations on your sobriety, and for handling your work situation so well. I’ve been sober for years now, but it was a struggle. Sending you encouragement and strength for your continued sobriety. Take it from someone who has been there – it DOES get better.

  26. Heather*

    Congrats on your sobriety OP! I’m very impressed at how you’ve gracefully handled this situation. Whenever you’re feeling down just remember you’re a human having a human experience and it’s ok to mess up – we all do in our own way.

  27. newlyhr*

    Congratulations on your sobriety and thank you for updating us. One day at a time…

  28. Come On Eileen*

    AWESOME. I’m so happy to hear this and so proud of you! I’m a little over two years sober myself — after many embarrassing moments similar to yours, and after lots of self-loathing and shame — and I will tell you it gets better. Keep going. The first few months are rough, no doubt, and the only way out is through. Life gets easier, you get stronger, and you’ll be able to do anything sober and clear-headed. Good for you.

  29. justsomeone*

    I’m so happy for you LW! Congratulations on 4-months sober and on putting a damper on the teasing!

  30. Lauren*

    I too am proud of you, OP. It’s not an easy thing to do, but you handled this situation with unusual grace. I wish you the best each and every day.

  31. VivaL*

    Congratulations OP – 4 months sober is something to be proud of.

    Asking for help is one of the toughest things we do as humans. Good for you for doing it.

    OH! Have you heard of Glennon Doyle Melton (she has a fb page)? She’s also struggled with alcohol addiction and has a very compassionate worldview on her own life and for others in similar boats. I wonder if her perspective might help you through some tough times? (She does have a (very slightly) religious (and I hate to use that word since it conjures so many negative associations and I hate to associate that with her – that is NOT what she’s about) and a political commentary as well – so that stuff might or might not be to your liking, but I’ve found her compassionate worldview very helpful on numerous occasions.

    Regardless, you should be proud of yourself for your accomplishments thus far, and I wish you many many more days of fulfilling sobriety ahead.

  32. Anonymous for this*

    Hey, really well handled!

    I had a brush with an addiction. It was a lot of work at first, but ten years later I can honestly say it’s no longer part of my life – I haven’t had cravings in years and I’m not attracted to it any more. I don’t even think about it unless people are discussing addiction. Life is So. Much. Better. I do have to keep an eye on myself to make sure I don’t develop a new addiction to something else, but that doesn’t interfere with life. You’ll get there, and it is worth it.

  33. Jillociraptor*

    OP you handled this SO well, and at a time in your life that feels really challenging. So impressive!

    And so thrilled for you to have achieved four months of sobriety. You’ve got a lot of folks in your corner here! Congratulations, and I hope that the path gets smoother for you very soon.

  34. B*

    Congratulations! I think you handled the personal talks very well and if you aren’t able to see it know that each of us is so proud of you. When I was feeling pretty low with crap going on my therapist told me to make sure you do something nice for yourself once day. Go to the gym, do your nails, take a walk, visit someone, volunteer somewhere, try a new recipe, knit something, but most importantly make sure it’s something that makes you feel good. If that feeling lasts for only 10 minutes know it will last for 15 minutes later on, then 20 minutes after that, and so on.

    Much luck to you in your sobriety journey, we are all pulling for you.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great advice for anyone who is going through any type of difficult thing. Deliberately build something pleasant into your day. Even if it’s just five minutes each day because that is all you can spare. Get there, make that five minutes of pleasant happen.

  35. Quiet*

    You’re amazing, OP. For real. Congratulations on four months of sobriety and for shutting down the workplace chatter in such a professional way.

  36. Shannon*

    Congratulations on your continued sobriety, LW. I’m proud of you for handling this maturely and not letting it get to you.

  37. KimmieSue*

    This is one of the best LW updates EVER! Stay strong and thanks for including us in your journey. I know your humbling, honest story before (and update today) is helping others. Bravo.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have been watching the way OP writes, s/he is actually a very smart, insightful person. This will be a good advantage for you in the long run, OP.

  38. GlamNonprofitSquirrel*

    Great update, OP! Thank you for being so thoughtful and doing so.

    I love the suggestion above about doing one good deed each day and I’d like to publicly thank YOU for doing an excellent deed today – you thanked people for their advice and validated them by acknowledging that you read all of the comments and acted upon the advice given. That’s some pretty darn great stuff there and you should be proud of yourself for looking outside of your struggle and seeing the good in others.

    Keep on keeping on, OP. One day at a time.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yes, your update definitely counts as your good deed today. You’ve made others happy with it, happy with you, and that is good. Thank you.

  39. esemes*

    Woohoo! OP, you are crushing this!

    I’m sorry that life has been hard. I’m really, really impressed by your willingness to do hard things to make your life better.

  40. Observer*

    OP, you say that your life is pretty crappy right now, and I’m sure that this is objectively true. But, I also think that it’s NOT as bad as it feels. You are spending a lot of energy learning to deal with difficult stuff without alcohol, which leaves you less energy to actually deal with all of this, so you are more depleted and everything feels worse.

    The good news is that this piece DOES get better. As you develop new tools and get comfortable with them, things will be easier to deal with. And, as your craving reduces, you’ll spend less energy on dealing with them. So, you’ll have more energy and will need less to deal with stuff. It won’t make the objectively bad stuff go away, but it will make it so much easier to deal with.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good point, I would be pretty drained by all this if it were me. OP, I am sure you are looking at what you are eating, as you get more and more good foods into you then your vitamin and mineral levels will come up. This will help with the bouts of stinkin’ thinkin’. It will also help with body aches and general listlessness.

  41. brooksider*

    Congratulations, OP for handling this situation with such grace. One day at a time.

  42. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Congratulations on 4 months sober! You handled the situation amazingly well, and showed great compassion for your manager in the process.

  43. March*

    Oh OP, congratulations! I’m so glad the situation was resolved as well as it was. And four months sobriety is wonderful!

  44. kac*

    I’m over here tearing up at this letter. Sobriety is such hard, hard work and those that I love who’ve gotten and stayed sober–I consider them the strongest, bravest people I know. Lots of well wishes, OP.

    1. Jean*

      I know it’s one day at a time and in some ways the choice is so clear (stay addicted and stay miserable, or renounce the addiction and embrace life) that some people might be embarrassed by my compliment, but I have enormous respect for people who stare down an addiction.
      Next logical step: Since everybody is dealing with _something_ (diabetes, obesity, depression, family members with special needs or developmental challenges or serious illnesses…) I suppose I need to be respectful of, and polite to, _everybody.
      Okay…this makes everybody happy (because mutual respect leads to a better world) except my inner misanthrope (imagine Oscar from Sesame Street has moved into your stomach). When do I get to be grouchy?!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Indeed. I learned from the folks I know who never got sober just how powerful that magnet is. It is always good to hear of someone who made it out. It’s a joyful moment for me.

  45. Janice in Accounting*

    Congratulations on your sobriety, and the very best of wishes as you continue the work. Good for you, OP!!

  46. Dot Warner*

    Hooray! Congrats on your continued sobriety, OP! I’m so proud of you! And it’s wonderful to hear that the teasing has mostly stopped.

  47. Amber Rose*

    I know it’s hard LW, but you are handling it like a champion. Be proud of yourself. We’re all proud of you too.

  48. AF*

    Congratulations on your sobriety! Very very happy about the great work update. Very best wishes!

  49. Minion*

    Congratulations on four months of sobriety! And thanks for coming back to update and sharing what you did and how you tailored the advice to your situation. What a brilliant solution!

  50. Elle*

    Fantastic!! Keep doing what you’re doing, one day at a time.
    The way you handled your coworkers was nothing short of inspired!!
    Thanks for the update, it really brightened my day.

  51. Jen*

    Congrats on being 4 months sober!

    I would like to recommend the Home Podcast – I have no affiliation with it – just enjoy it. But it’s hosted by two women who are sober and they discuss the challenges of sober living:

    I think you’d really enjoy it. Or at least I hope you would! They did an episode where they interview the author of that book Blackout and they talk about how being sober doesn’t mean life is awesome, just that it means you now have to really deal with life when it isn’t awesome.

    Best of luck to you!

  52. LQ*

    Really great job on having those difficult conversations. That’s fantastically impressive. Wonderful job on sobriety and continuing to work at it.

  53. Cass*

    Wow…it sounds like you have a lot of strength and dignity. Congratulations on 4 months!

  54. Shark Lady*

    Congratulations on four months of sobriety! That is no small feat. It’s hard to realize you need help, and even harder to actually go and get it. And you handled what could have been really difficult, awkward conversations in a calm, mature way. Go you!

  55. Rahera*

    Congratulations, LW, it’s great to read your update and to hear you’re doing so well. :)

  56. GreenTeaPot*

    Congratulations! Good for you, OP. You handled it well. You are an inspiration to us all!

  57. Libervermis*

    You’re amazing OP! Professionally and personally you’re handling tough situations really well. Read over all these happy comments whenever you need a pick-me-up.

  58. MindoverMoneyChick*

    Add me to the chorus of folks saying this is a fantastic update all around. Love the way the OP how graciously and maturely handled it and love that her co-workers were receptive. And major kudos for 4 months sober!

  59. Mallows*

    So inspired by you, LW. Consider this your (and Green’s, too!) good deed for the day: I have just messaged the SMART Recovery chapter in my city to see if their usual meeting will still take place this Monday (as I have to travel the first half of June). Cheering you on!

  60. Ad Astra*

    I was so sure that the coworkers would be understanding, and then I worried that maybe they really were jerks who didn’t get it. I’m glad my original instinct was right because I’m not sure I could have handled a negative update on this story.

    Great job, OP!

  61. Sarashina*

    Congratulations OP! That’s a tremendous accomplishment that you can feel very, very proud of, and I’m so glad to hear you were able to address your coworkers’ jokes.

  62. Kelly*

    Congratulations on your sobriety! What a great accomplishment. Your life may feel crappy now but I promise you the rewards in the long run will be so well worth it. (((hug)))

  63. AT*

    “…my manager would either be unsympathetic or feel really bad since he had exacerbated the teasing by sending around that video of me”

    Holy smokes; Alison, do you consider this extremely unprofessional for a manager to forward something like this around (which could get forwarded outside the company)?

Comments are closed.