Let me tell you eleven facts about my drinking history.
1.) I drank (more than a taste) maybe a handful of times before I was legal to, starting at eighteen.
Once on New Years Eve, my senior year with my older boyfriend and his friends ( I believe they brought over wine coolers and beer. I told my parents I wasn’t drinking but my face and attitude were all bubbly.)
Once at some airmen party my Air Force boyfriend took me to, I drank a few Apple Pucker/vodka shots.
At, nineteen, I got my first “apartment”, (which was really just a room in a boarding house for women in Berkeley, California) My friend Seth and I christened the room by drinking a horrible bottle of Brass Monkey.
At the age of twenty; a couple of times I snuck into the Crown with some friends. I would drink Bloody Light Beer and Frog Balls ( Tomato juice in BudLight and green olives) because that is what my friends drank.
Then there were probably a couple of house parties in there where I imbibed. But never to excess.
2.) I have always enjoyed being in control of myself and my ability to leave; so I would never want to get “drunk.”
I would enjoy the feeling of social lubrication because I would get anxious in social situations with new people.
I enjoyed the way alcohol would lower my inhibitions, so that I felt I could easily talk to strangers, or new people. I enjoyed the way it got me out of my own head, and into the present moment.
I liked how it “chilled me out”; being sober (to me) meant being hyper in many ways. Hypercritical; hyper-mental, and hyper-insecure. When I started drinking, I became less hypercritical of the behavior of others. I was less inclined to be “judgy” about others drinking.
3.) I didn’t go through the average path for drinking.
I started drinking later than most people and when I went to a private Christian College for one semester at nineteen; I didn’t drink at all during that time. So I never got on that whole “college binge drinking scene.” I really believed that you shouldn’t do mind altering substances, until your brain had fully developed.
4.) I have always drank for the taste.
Every New Years Eve, my parents would give my brother and I maybe a quarter of a champagne flute of champagne, you know, so we could “participate.” I loved the taste of the bubbly… my brother, not so much. I would drink mine in one quick gulp, and then his.
When I was about 12 or 13 and my parent’s weren’t around, I would crawl up on the counter top, and visit the “little bottles of booze” in the cabinet above the refrigerator. I would only take a sip. The only one I liked was Malibu Rum. I loved the smell, and sweetness (it reminded me of Mexico.)
I turned twenty-one in San Jose, California. My boyfriend at the time and his friends, were dare I say it, “Alcohol Snobs.” They enjoyed elaborate drinks, like flaming Dr. Peppers, and Oatmeal Cookies. I don’t recall any of them drinking cheap beer. My vice of choice when going out, would either be a Vodka Cran with Lime, or Long Island Ice Tea. This is where drinking became a habit and a reward system. “After a long hard day” my boyfriend and I, and sometimes his mother, would have a few drinks together on an almost nightly basis.
In San Jose, I would use drinking as an emotional crutch, as I got the feeling his friends didn’t really like me that much, and I didn’t have that many friends of my own in this unfamiliar land.
At the age of twenty two, I started to really get into craft beer. And, admittedly I became a “beer snob”, you know, before it was really hip to do.
5.) My unconventional life path, catered to drinking.
Being the type that doesn’t want to get drunk or black out, I know how to pace my drinking. I have had some very unconventional jobs, where drinking at work is actually encouraged and provided for, the employees. As you can imagine, not everyone “stays in their body” in those situations. I have always held pride in keeping my shit together.
My “style of drinking” is slow, paced. I can drink through out the day, and not get drunk. By the time for bed, I would just be tired, and at times maybe irritable.
Some of the jobs I have had, where drinking was acceptable on the job were; working in a dive bar, working for a brewery/ hop farm; farming vegetables/ cannabis, working at a distillery, house sitting, dog sitting, and working as a promotional model.
I am a good worker, and I never let my consumption get in the way of my work performance.
6.) I made money while drinking.
While I had jobs that paid me, while I was working and drinking; I have also used the social lubricant to help me sell art work. I have sold more paintings out of pubs, than I have any where else. I would bring my art supplies, and some finished canvass’, order a craft beer and a double Jameson on the rocks, or maybe a Bloody Mary and get to work on some art. Eventually some one would come over to see what I was doing, and BAM, I just made an art sale.
People with money, who are drinking, are usually VERY GENEROUS.
7.) I started drinking alone near the beginning of my legal usage of alcohol.
I moved around quite a bit after I left home after High School. When I moved to Summit County, Colorado at twenty two, I found myself in the closest thing I can relate to what may be the “college party” environment.
I like, many other young mountain residence, sought employment at the Keystone Ski Resort; cheaply living in a dormitory. The first few weeks I was there, it was downtime right before the summer season was set to get going. There weren’t many people around, and I literally lived across the parking lot from a little liquor store. I would go buy a bottle of Chardonnay, and dance alone while making art work in my room, and then I would go take a hike or maybe clean my room. Either way, my brain was being triggered by the dopamine, and I was riding off the exhilaration of being able to purchase alcohol on my own, as an adult. I didn’t have anyone judging me, or telling me “no”. I was free to do as I pleased.
I have spent many hours and some times days where I am alone. Drinking was just something I could do that accompanied any of my creative en-devours; be it writing, painting, or dressing up in characters. It was also something that everyone else was doing socially… so I’ve never really been a binge drinker; just a consistent drinker.
8.) I took pride in how well versed I became in my knowledge of different liquors and beers.
It’s people like me, who made craft beer the thriving industry it is today. Every where I would go, I would be educating people on drinks. I don’t know why this made me feel like I had some sort of upper hand, but it did. Now I am a little ashamed that I was basically just being an enabler.
9.) It’s only in the last couple of years that the effects of alcohol, have really started to gross me out.
Be it my own weight gain, or how I see alcohol effect people around me; I’ve gotten really disgusted. The hardest part is watching the effect of alcohol really turn someone into a nasty little gollum, which is what I have experienced in the last couple of years, second-hand by watching a friend struggle with their addiction.
I don’t get mean when I drink. I actually stay in a very kind head space. Occasionally when I am under stress, or near my moon, I slip and let my deep, hidden emotions out.
Many times in sobriety I have felt misunderstood, or that the people I care about, give no fucks about my internal state of being. Drinking with people that I care for, has allowed me to purge some emotions that I keep locked inside. I do have an unspoken expectation, that if they know how I feel, things can change; however, they rarely do. It really isn’t their responsibility to fix anything in me; namely my own perceptions.
Drinking alone while writing, allowed me to feel the freedom to put those deep emotions down on paper, and many times I would surprise myself with how far I was willing to go down that personal rabbit hole.
10.) I only recently started judging myself for my solo consumption.
I’ve had so much freedom; free time, and self authority as an adult, that I haven’t been very self critical of my consumption. It’s just something I can do, because I want to. I still get my work done, and do it well.
I have found that it to be a medicine of sorts because in my youth I felt very structured and controlled. That structure and control felt like jail. And though I was thriving in jail, it was partially because I am a mutable personality, and I try and make the best of any situation by conforming just enough to get through with out drama or trouble. Funny thing is, that DOES actually work in jail. It’s like some places, it isn’t okay to swear at work, so you even though you may swear like a sailor all the time; but, you reign it in at work because you need to get paid. It doesn’t mean you lose your sense of humor, or intellect.
Why am I judging myself now? It all comes down to the lasting effects. The slow suicide. The fact that I know I could accomplish so much more without alcohol hanging around all the time. The fact that, living in the situation I am in, is temporary; and I will be better equipped for the next stage, if I reevaluate my consumption.
11.) I knew at some point, my mind would just change.
It’s been the case for people in my family. My grandma use to drink Milwaukee Light, and crap beer like that, and smoke cigarettes all day long through my childhood. Then one day, she just quit. When I asked her why she quit, she simply said, “I didn’t like how it was making me feel, anymore.” And that made sense as a very self aware decision. Granted, my grandma has had some health conditions that definitely benefit from cutting out beer and cigarettes, but her will to change on a dime, is inspirational in a logical kind of way.
Dry July- Day One