I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage since Christmas. Before that, Halloween. Before that, LAST Summer.
The longer I go in between glasses of wine, the more alcohol feels like poison to my body. I don’t drink anymore. I’ve given it up. Entirely.
My wine-drinking buddies just fell out of their chairs. (No, not because they’re lushes. Be nice.)
Early in high school, my peers started drinking at parties. I was the observer. For a few hours, everyone enjoyed wild and crazy good times. Then the girls would start crying, the boys would start fighting and someone would throw up in the washing machine of the poor, unassuming parents who thought it was safe to leave their house in the care of their teenager for the weekend.
Based on what I witnessed, drinking didn’t interest me. I caught a lot of crap from my peers for not indulging. Why did I even bother coming to the party? What, did I think I was better than everyone?
Toward the end of my senior year, peer pressure and curiosity took me by the hands and hoisted me up on the party wagon. I rode it into my early twenties, drinking to excess with gusto and taking my fair turn at throwing-up and passing out.
I can tell you terrific tales, of wild and stupid adventures for which alcohol was a key ingredient: flashing bartenders for free drinks, swimming in gator-infested waters after dark, claiming a front row seat next to the mirrored floor of a strip-club on Bourbon Street.
I also experienced the dark side, through an alcoholic boyfriend…or two. I tasted codependency, even gnawed on it for a while before I realized it would swallow me if I didn’t spit it out.
With alcoholism running deep into both sides of my family history, I consider myself lucky for not having paid more dearly for irreverently tangling with booze. When my experimentation phase was over, I was able to easily walk away.
I ditched the party-hearty gangs from my college days and naturally tapered my alcohol consumption, as I entered adulthood, to a socially acceptable/socially encouraged standard. My intake was further decreased by abstaining through pregnancies and nursing my children. A couple glasses of wine a few evenings per week, a sunny Friday afternoon in the yard with the neighbors to celebrate our surviving another week of parenthood, and at parties – this has been the extent of my consumption for many years.
About two years ago, I began writing. I wrote mostly at night while the children slept. I quickly learned I can’t write with a fuzzy head, or stay awake very long after a day with my kids, if I top it with alcohol. So, I traded pouring an evening glass of wine, for pouring my words into the computer. Soon, I had gone so long without wine, I had un-aquired my taste for it and the way it makes me feel.
I’ve come to realize, I don’t enjoy impairing myself on purpose. I feel like I am fumbling through life most of the time without the aide of intoxicants and prefer to keep what Spidey sense I have, keen.
As someone with a tendency to shove a sober foot in her mouth on a regular basis, I have an especially hard time trying to keep from committing verbal fouls if I’ve had a few. Spouting off with a wine-loosened tongue works contrary to my goal, which is to keep people from thinking I’m an asshole.
I bet you really wanna party with me now.
Just looking at a wine list, give me a hangover I make a lousy hungover person. (I handle the common cold with equal grace.) I have negative eleven interest in wasting anymore days, feeling rotten by my own doing.
Cutting out alcohol has been a tremendously positive step in keeping my mood on an even keel. (Now I only have to deal with raging PMS.)
As for taking the edge off a rough day: it turns out putting my feet up without a glass of wine, is just as relaxing…and doesn’t give me a headache.
It has been liberating to allow myself to feel the full force of my awkwardness in social settings and work through it on my own instead of reaching for a cold-one to put me more at ease. (Hey, who left this soapbox here for me to trip over?)
Peer pressure is still a thing at thirty-five, but it isn’t as outright. At a party, a drink in your hand is an accessory everyone expects you to have. Without one, people constantly offer. I get a surprise reaction, when I say, “No, thank you.” Friends think I’m kidding when I tell them my cocktail is virgin. They hesitate to drink as much as they would, were I partaking. It’s hard for me to tell someone I’m not interested, and not feel as though I’m back in high school where people assumed that by not drinking, I was judging them negatively for drinking.
The biggest difference between peer pressure in my teens and peer pressure in my mid-thirties, is how it affects me. Then, I wanted desperately to fit in with the crowd. Now, I don’t give a rip if someone thinks I’m not cool because I don’t drink. Even better, I’m not in relationships that could be affected by such a thing.
The mommy-needs-her-sippy-cup culture is so prevalent these days, which I think is funny at times (and is probably/hopefully exaggerated for effect). On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who abstain for religious reasons or because they are alcoholics, which everyone surely respects and supports. But what about the camp I’m in? Is there anybody else out there, who simply prefers a non-alcoholic lifestyle these days?