The Non-Drinker

In college and for a handful of years afterward, I self-medicated with alcohol, not that I understood that then. During this time, I was more apt to go out drinking than participate in other activities. I stopped drinking to get drunk in my early thirties; my body no longer could tolerate it–for the life of me now I cannot understand the appeal. I do know that I got drunk in my twenties because I did not like the person I was. Drinking encircled the darkness and quieted the demons. It allowed me to be someone else. Not that I really liked that person either, especially when I woke up the next day. I’ve come to conclude that only by the grace of God, did I not go down the path of alcoholism.

My drinking settled down after I met Erin, though it was still a major social activity in our lives. It slowed a bit more when Erin became pregnant if only because I was now drinking alone. Still, I would come home every night from my job as a creative director and have a drink or two to unwind. That is what I told myself anyway. In reality, I was still fighting with myself. I did not know then that I had depression, so I would have a drink because it helped me to create the false image that I had finally made something of myself and I deserved a drink. Alcohol is hubris’s best friend. Erin told me later that I was drinking more than I realized, that my drinks were often far more rum than tonic.

For various reasons, alcohol took less and less of a priority in our lives. When we did drink, though, I found that I was always wanting more and that scared me. For a long time, I tried to figure out how I could stop drinking completely. It had been such a part of my life for so long that I was not sure how to go about it. What would people think? My therapist helped me along by telling to me that it made no sense to be taking an anti-depressant and then going out and taking a bunch of depressants. It is no wonder I would feel like mental crap the day after I had a few drinks. This way of looking at it gave me the ability to stop drinking.

Because I was drinking so infrequently at the time it was not that hard for me to stop. I did long for a drink now and again but not enough that I was willing to go out and buy something. The cravings were far less than when I quit smoking so I knew I could handle them. There have been a few special occasions with family that I have shared one nice glass of whiskey or wine. Though the last time I did this at a dinner celebrating my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary, the slight buzz I got left me feeling so unsettled at the seeming loss of control that I am not sure I will even do it again.  At first it was far harder to find the right words to tell people that I no longer drank. As has often been the case, I fretted more about what people would think than anything else. In the end, I decided that being upfront and honest was the only way. After all, having depression or choosing not to drink is not something to be ashamed of.

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