5/04/2016

the non-drinking shame

Here's something you may or may not know about me -- I don't drink. Apparently, if you listen to the crowd, this is something to be ashamed of. You are not fun. You're judgmental. You're boring. You really do want to drink you just need to be talked into it. For hours. And then a bit more. And when, still, you smile, perhaps a bit more stiffly now, and say no thanks people roll their eyes and step away from you as if you are the problem.

I am not ashamed of myself for not drinking. I am not ashamed that I have put that limit on myself. And neither should you.

Because, here's the thing, the people who tell you that you'd be more fun if you had a drink or two are the ones who should be ashamed. The people who think it's okay to drink and drive with children in the car should be ashamed. The people who think it's okay to try and pressure you into drinking, these are the people who need to be ashamed. Not you.

I don't drink for a variety of reasons. The biggest one, of course, is I don't want to. I grew up in a family of drinkers. I was given beer by my parents before I was fifteen. Every single gathering was alcohol fueled. I thought this was okay. It wasn't then and it isn't now. As I got older and turned eighteen my anxiety and depression became a stronger force in my life. Instead of getting help I drank to ease the pain. Some nights I blacked out and couldn't remember what had happened. I didn't remember drinking.

I used to drink heavily at family occasions because I didn't want to be there.

When Husband and I decided to try for a baby I stopped drinking. I didn't want to drink while trying because I knew I'd hate myself if I was unknowingly pregnant and had had alcohol. I didn't drink while I was pregnant either because, hey, that's just what's done. After B. was born Husband and I decided that we weren't going to drink around her. Not because we were ashamed but because it wasn't necessary.

After Minnie my anxiety and depression got worse and I was diagnosed with PTSD. I still wasn't ready to fully admit to any of this. Admit that I needed help. Therapy. Medication. So when B. went to bed I would drink wine until the pain went away and I slipped into a blank sleep. It felt like bliss. So anytime life got hard I repeated this. Drinking in bed. Alone. Wanting to die.

And then, I don't know, I just woke up and decided to stop. I took myself to the doctor. I got myself on medication. I was warned not to drink alcohol. I was told to take care of myself. So I did. I am. 

Husband doesn't drink for himself but also for me, for moral support. Because he saw how I was and he's seen how alcohol plays a leading role in people's lives and he doesn't want that for himself, for me or for B.

Of course, I don't hate people who drink. I don't judge them. Why would I? There's nothing wrong with it after all. But it's just not for me. Which is what people seem unable to grasp. As if, drinking is the best thing in the entire world. As if, one can't have a good time without it. As if, it's what makes you a real man or a fun woman. 

So, no, I'm not ashamed of not drinking. I am, however, ashamed of the people who try to pressure me, and others into drinking, as if seeing you slur your words is just the thing to make me quit not drinking. As if, I'd ever listen to what society deems acceptable. As if, I'd ever sacrifice the safety and well-being of my family. As if you matter.


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