Alcohol! I feel like so many of my friends are currently struggling with cutting down their consumption of alcohol, either by drinking less, or by drinking none at all. This is something I’ve struggled with for years, and I want to talk about it. I want all of us to talk about it.
I was thirteen the first time I got drunk, and then I didn’t drink again until I was nineteen (except for once at a party when I was eighteen – I remember my sister making me rye & cokes. Thanks, sis!). I didn’t drink excessively the moment I turned nineteen (um, except for on my birthday), and in fact, I had intentionally stayed away from alcohol because I had started taking new psych meds and didn’t wanna fuck them up. I also grew up with frequent warnings from my mom: “Don’t turn into your dad!” (My dad is an alcoholic and not a very pleasant person in general.) But then I discovered whiskey, the best cure thus far for my shyness & awkwardness, and I went for it. Long story short, alcohol was not really my best friend even though it seemed like it a lot of the time, I tried to quit about ten times in the course of five years, and today I am 159 days clean & sober, the longest time I’ve gone without drinking since I was nineteen.
There is no one way to quit drinking, and quitting once does not guarantee you’re gonna quit forever. What I’ve discovered in my recovery is that I need to quit 100% (as opposed to, say, setting a three-drink-limit for myself, which never worked out, or drinking only on certain days, or drinking only with certain people, etc., etc…), and that sometimes, I just plain can’t be near booze. Drunk people are almost never amusing when I am sober, and bars aren’t really a lot of fun unless my favourite band is playing or something – and if I’m going to a bar, or anywhere that serves alcohol, I reeeally appreciate having a sober friend to hang out with.
Unfortunately, a lot of awesome events are held in bars. If I end up in bar, or anywhere where alcohol is being consumed, I either get a tall glass of water with a slice of lemon (it’s free!), or I treat myself to a root beer or a cream soda or something. I don’t drink pop too often, so even something that simple can make the occasion feel special. It goes without saying that I appreciate sober spaces, and that when I organize stuff (or at least when I imagine organizing stuff – usually I have a bunch of ideas for events I wanna plan, but I don’t see them through), alcohol is not welcome.
Going to meetings has also been helpful for me. It’s hard, though. Meetings are filled with a lot of people I can’t relate to on any level except for the fact that we are both recovering, and that is just not a solid enough basis for friendship for me. So although I go to meetings frequently, and although “working the steps” has been useful for me, those are still spaces where I do not truly connect with others around me. Quitting alcohol is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it can also be an alienating experience when so many others around you rely on booze for fun.
I’ve written more about my experiences with alcoholism in issue 5 of Little Acorns and issue 23 of Telegram Ma’am, which you can get here.
What I’m looking for here is for you to share stories about your own struggles with alcohol, strategies for quitting, how you deal with situations where alcohol is present, and so on. I think we all need to support one another in our recoveries, and share share share. Let’s think about questions like:
– What do you do instead of drinking?
– What do you do when everyone around you is drinking?
– Why do you drink?
– What helps you stay away from alcohol?
– How can our friends support us in our decisions & recoveries?
– How can we embrace sobriety without judging others who choose to drink?
– & ask more questions!
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!