Don’t Ask Me Why I Don’t Drink

January 8, 2014 2:36 pm

alcoholIt’s not that I religiously don’t drink…

This festive season, I’ve had more than two glasses of mead, and a little sup of mulled wine.  The latter, I had half a glass of while out at the Christmas Markets and from it did get very merry.  But that was in the company of the other half and I specifically didn’t have all that much.

But around this time of year, I, and a good few people like me, are offered alcohol in degrees of a whole glass or a top up of their half glass or what have you and we have to thank them but decline.

‘Oh go on, it’s Christmas / New Years / my birthday / the weekend / you only live once.’

At which point we breathe in and say those fateful words:

‘Thanks, but I don’t really drink.’

The questions come after.  They always come, whether right then or a few hours later, when everybody else is a little bit wasted and feeling more confident about asking such things.

Go ahead and do us a favour from now on – just accept that that is our decision and just don’t ask us.  There are no good responses – trust me.

don't drinkOne of my first boyfriends at university shared my standpoint.  He had been involved in a fight while drunk while living back in Majorca, where a friend of his was stabbed to death.  He blames himself for it to this day and doesn’t allow himself to drink, because he never wants to be put in that situation again.

Another friend of mine sunk back the booze as a teenager, escaping the horror of his home-life.  Now in his thirties, he doesn’t drink because his liver is all but screwed when he didn’t, as he puts it: ‘Just pick up a ball and go out and play football instead of copying what the grown-ups around me were doing.’

Then there’s me.  My father was an alcoholic all through my teenage years.  I remember all too clearly the days when he was too drunk to stand, walked into my room because he couldn’t remember which bedroom door was his while butt-naked, and getting my baby sister out of bed where my step-mother had just put her, because he thought it was early morning as opposed to late evening.

I have had no influence from any other quarters that drinking, whether to excess or to smaller amounts is in any way a good idea.

I can count on less than the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve actually been drunk, and I still look back and think ‘Oh, Christ, why did I do / say that?  Why did I allow that to happen?  Why didn’t somebody else stop me?’

I don’t drink because I see the vague beginnings of my father in myself.  It all starts with half a glass, which I can handle and get slightly merry with, which is nice once in a long while.  But any more than that, and I can’t handle it.  I know my limits, and there’s a line people always seem to want to cross when drunk between being the person you know and someone really nasty or irresponsible that comes out when your mind’s under the influence.

I also have to set the best example I can.  People I know and love drink and I have seen more than one of them transform in front of me to something that I don’t recognize while drunk.  One or two of these same people have called me a ‘pussy’ because they think that I can’t handle my drink.  They’d be right.  But that’s because I don’t want to have to think about it.  The last thing I need is the extra stress of ‘what did I say, what did I do, who did I insult and who’s still my friend?’ afterwards, whether I had a few drinks or got ‘absolutely slaughtered’.  That behaviour doesn’t impress me, and I don’t know why it would anyone.

So many younger people are turning to drink these days, because they think that’s what makes them a little bit more of a grown up.  Because they think that for that time at least, it will enable them to forget about their problems.  In actual fact, all it does is compound the problems they already have, and the problems that they are going through don’t go away.  They will be right there waiting for them, when they have their hangover the next day.  Alcohol solves nothing.  It creates more problems, be their health-related or to do with your relationships.

drunkI had an argument with someone recently under the influence of alcohol.  As in, they were drunk and I was not.  And the last time I was that heart-broken was the last time that I had an argument with my dad under the influence, years and years ago.

So here is my New Years Resolution that I’m doing this year – the main one.  I’ve always said to myself it’s okay to have the odd half a glass of mead now and again, to enjoy myself with, and still told people that I ‘don’t drink’.  But I don’t need any form of alcohol for a release.  What I need is control over myself and to not make a fool of myself in front of those I love.  To not mess up my health .  To not mess up my happiness with those I love.  The pain isn’t dulled or forgotten.

So the next time I will be having any mead will be next Christmas, or possibly Yuletide instead, for half a glass just to salute the gods (I’m pagan).  Because neither myself nor anyone else needs any more than that.  Tell anybody who tells you otherwise that it’s none of their business why you don’t drink.

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