I will never be popular, because I don’t drink.

I stopped drinking alcohol years ago. I don’t even remember the last drink I had.

I just realized I really didn’t like myself when I drank. I realized that I would sometimes drink just to put up with a situation I was in, or because I was pressured into it by the people I was with at the time. Probably the trouble was more that the people I was trying to get along with were not people I would normally hang out with, we really had nothing in common, so getting drunk together was the easiest way to find a common ground.

I drank more in the last 2 years of my first marriage than I probably had ever before that. I was trying to get along with “him” and his friends, but I absolutely could not tolerate it sober, and neither could they. But, being considered “cute” for having a hang-over until 5pm the next day was a problem for me….and puking down the front of myself as I was being driven home was also not something I was proud to share.  I hated it and really started to hate myself. I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol, why was I doing this to myself?

So I stopped.

There are SO MANY good reasons NOT to drink. But for some reason, it is not always a popular choice. Some people are downright uncomfortable drinking around someone who is NOT drinking. As if I will judge them, or maybe it’s that I will remember all the things they will do or say while they are too drunk to do so?

When I tell people I don’t drink, many assume it’s because I can’t. Like for a health reason. Or because I may be an alcoholic. Certainly, it can’t be because I don’t WANT to!

And then, I’ve been judged. Because if I say I don’t drink, some people have felt that I must believe I am better than them…..because they do drink. And so therefore I must be some stuck up hater of all things fun.  I’m not making this up. I’ve also been judged for admitting that I like to read though….so…….yea.

Honestly, it’s ok that I’ve been judged for not drinking. Because sometimes, I judge people who are drinking. Sometimes.

Because we have WAY too many people with drinking problems. People who drink to de-stress, who drink to function, who drink to get drunk and pass out and not remember. We have way to many alcoholics in our families. Don’t we? I do, on both sides, a TON.

I work for a gastroenterology group that gets consulted on people in the hospital. You don’t even want to know the amount of people I see on a daily basis with livers that are either dead, or screaming for mercy because of the amount of alcohol they are swimming in. It’s a growing problem, this drinking, and not knowing when to stop. If you don’t work in healthcare, you may not have noticed though.

But think about what we do for fun…. isn’t so much centered around drinking? Think a minute about someone you know who doesn’t drink. By choice. Do you think they are normal? Do you think they are judging you if you enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer?

I know, I know. I sound just like a….mom. Well, a boring mom, right?

That’s ok.

I do preach to my kids. I talk about all the problems that alcohol can contribute to….. and the fact that they will be pressured by their peers at some point to drink, to try drugs, to smoke. And you never know who will be able to walk away, and who will become enslaved by their addiction.

I would like it if more people attempted to have fun without drinking. And I know I’m generalizing…. but again, so many things that people do socially involve alcohol. Because alcohol relaxes you, makes you feel good. Makes you do things you wouldn’t have the guts to do normally. And some people drink because they WANT that excuse, and don’t want to be the person responsible for their bad choices. It was the Vodka, not ME!!

And the music today….how many songs serve to glorify the habit of getting drunk “in da club”, mentioning the “right” kind of liquor to drink. This is what our kids are singing to. I won’t lie, sometimes I really like the music too, and then it pisses me off because I feel like if I listen to it with any kids in the car, I am promoting a life of drinking and cheap sex. Well, sometimes the sex isn’t cheap I guess.

What to do?

So I guess I’ve taken the stance of being completely against alcohol. Because it seems so difficult for people to drink in a responsible way. That sounds so funny to me, like smoking in a responsible way…. I just don’t think it’s actually very responsible to ingest something that can hurt you…. but I guess that’s just me being really rigid and uptight. After all, one could argue I certainly don’t eat chocolate donuts in a responsible way, and I am NOT giving them up!!

I hope you know what I mean. I don’t hate you for drinking a beer on a lazy Saturday afternoon, having wine with your dinner, going out for Margarita’s with the girls sometimes.

I do hate that not everyone is able to walk away from it. And more and more people are affected by the drinking habits of their loved ones, sometimes fatally. I hate seeing all the damage done to the bodies of die hard drinkers who can’t quit, no matter how many times they try. And some really don’t want to try, and that’s hard to see too.

I hate that kids are encouraged to drink, to get crunk. That drinking is so often glamorized in our society.

I know this will not stop, there is way too much money to be made.

But just think about it. Think about your own family and friends. Doesn’t everyone know someone, at least some ONE with a drinking problem? a DUI? do you know people who get irritated if you talk to them about their drinking, who avoid social situations if there isn’t going to be alcohol served? I would be surprised if you don’t know anyone like this. But happy for you as well, clearly you only surround yourself with people who make good choices, or maybe you are just lucky.

It’s out there….

The evils of alcohol ready to teach your kids and mine about all the fun they will have when they drink, the fun that can ONLY be had when you drink. Because you can’t be popular or have as MUCH fun, unless you partake.

So I’m just going to be standing over here…. not drinking. And telling my kids not to drink. And hoping they don’t get hurt by someone who does.

It’s a choice, I know not a popular one. But it works for me.

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