This past January (2016), I really called into question the immense amount of influence that alcohol had on my life. Now that I’m ~8 months into full sobriety (read pregnancy), I’m starting to notice some things that really scare me.
I grew up around alcohol. I grew up around alcoholics. It was pretty normal for me to smell booze on my parents breath when they put me to bed- a smell that I’m now growing to hate.
I don’t want to sit on my high horse and become all judgmental about drinking, because I personally have abused alcohol in a terrible way in the past. I do however want to share some things I’ve been noticing that really don’t sit well with me anymore now that I’m clear headed enough to see them for what they are.
The first is, how okay it is with everyone to hear stories about how obliterated you got and nearly killed yourself or did something completely morally apprehensive or risky.
People think it’s absolutely hilarious to hear how you were so inebriated on the weekend, or at the holiday party that you could barely function. If someone were recounting a story about how messed up they got on any other drug other than alcohol (think cocaine or MDMA) we might express our concern to them and maybe tell them to be more careful in the future. But with alcohol? No way, party on Garth.
Second, is how much alcohol has stolen our ability to create meaningful experiences without it. Alcohol is everywhere, it’s a part of nearly every occasion. We drink when we’re happy, we drink when we’re sad, we drink when we’re bored and we drink to relax.
Why is everything better with alcohol? Is it because we’ve all gotten so lazy with our imaginations that we don’t know how to entertain ourselves anymore? Is it because we have such short attention spans that regular paced, fresh minded activity is unbearable?
I’ll tell you one thing for sure, if you want to feel boredom- be the only sober person in a room of people drinking just to get drunk. That will give you some insight into the quality of drunk conversation and activity.
Do you remember a time when you were young enough that you didn’t drink to have fun? Do you recall experiences, like going to the beach or over to a friends house, that were fully, consciously lived through?
I won’t lie to you, I forgot. I forgot that life is actually not disappointing without the lubrication of alcohol. I forgot that you can be silly and fun without alcohol. I forgot about imagination and what ifs and happiness that wasn’t greased up by booze.
Being sober is like rediscovering the world.
I now feel so sad that I used to feel the need to constantly escape from reality. And if you had told me that was what I was doing about 12 months back I would have denied it vehemently.
We are all collectively numbing and escaping. We live in a world that’s continually on and in our faces, and surprisingly it’s making us less and less present.
While there is so much more information on mindfulness available to us, it’s like we can barely handle our own emotions anymore.
It’s hard to consciously shape your life and become the person you want to be when you’re constantly recovering from a hangover. It’s like trying to keep up with a conveyor belt of choices that’s moving a bit too fast and easily overwhelms you.
I believe not drinking has forced me to slow down and to open my eyes more. To look around and see how easy it is to fall into the trap of binge drinking weekly and letting your life slip by.
I was pretty surprised to find out the definition of heavy drinking. According to Statistics Canada, heavy drinking is reported to be drinking 5 or more drinks (4 for women) in one sitting, 12 or more times a year. A whopping 32 per cent of Canadians aged 20 to 34 binged 12 times in the past year.
That’s only once a month. HA!
I would have called that light drinking over a year ago!
An article in Prevention Magazine stated that (in the US) more than 38 million people reported binge drinking 4 times a month (weekend warriors). That’s “heavy drinking times four.
And the scary part is, it’s increasing like crazy; especially among women. Binge drinking has increased at a rate seven times that of men. 20% of women who binge drink will meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, which is the fancy new term for alcoholism.
This kind of drinking is one of the main reasons for the rising rates of infertility which is now at 1/6 couples in Canada.
I’ll admit it-I was an alcoholic.
It wasn’t the blackouts that scared me enough to stop, it wasn’t the increased risk in heart disease or high blood pressure or even the smoking that always seemed to go along with the drinking.
It was the almost losing someone I loved dearly because of my poor judgment while drinking.
Because I was raised in what you might call a broken home and I still watch my mother waste away slowly from alcohol and drug abuse, family has become my number one focus in life.
I want to break the cycle of alcohol use and abusive relationships in my family, and part of that means changing the way I view alcohol. It means changing the way I raise my children to view alcohol.
Alcohol is awesome. It can be refined and delicious (I love a glass of good red wine) and even have health benefits- for sure.
But the truth is alcohol needs more respect, and so do our lives.
Alcohol shouldn’t be tossed into the mix just because it can. It should be used as a complement to our experiences and not the be the centre of them.
The less I drink, the less I care to be around people who are sloppily tossing them back.
I don’t want my future baby around that either. I want my kids to grow up full of wonder for the world and not feel like when they hit a certain age that drinking should become one of the top activities in their lives.
I don’t want our family dinners and events to become soaked in booze like mine were.
I don’t want my children to have painful feelings they feel trapped by that they try to escape from by drinking weekly.
I don’t want my children to feel like they NEED alcohol to unplug and relax.
I want my children to have clear heads, to learn how to sit with their emotions and process them rather than shove them away and drown them.
I don’t want to make excuses for my drunk friends and family to my children. But the sad truth is, I will probably have to. Because there’s always that one drunk relative who gets too emotional, or that one friend that starts saying something inappropriate. And if I am the one to call everyone’s drinking into question, then I’m the prude and I’m judgmental and uptight.
Like I said, I think alcohol is great- and sure there will be times when we all dip into the sauce a little too heavily. What I’m getting at here is that I just think it’s already a bit much.
I’m craving more real life, and I’m super excited to spend early evenings and early mornings with a tiny little rugrat that’s naturally silly and goofy and doesn’t yet feel self-conscious enough to require a drug to enjoy a weekend afternoon.
Most of what I’m expressing here is a reflection of my own experience, how I have viewed life and why I have already spent so many years drinking so much.
If you feel judged by this post, I’m not sorry. It probably means you should have a conversation with yourself about why you feel that way.
After I have this precious little miracle baby, I fully intend to enjoy a few glasses of wine a week and maybe two on some occasions.
If you’d ever like to join me for a sober conversation come and find me on Facebook.
I have a private Facebook community called Radiant & Ready with Milli Fox full of women preparing themselves body, soul and mind for healthy pregnancies and healthy lives.