I like to tell myself that there was a point in time (in the very distant past) when I drank normally. Not problematically. As in: not fall-down, blackout drunk. Just festive, buzz-worthy drinking.
This narrative is one I’ve been going back to consistently for the 12+ years I’ve been sober.
But it’s bullshit.
And I didn’t even realize it until I ran across a sober friend’s post on my Facebook feed today:
The whole post is worth a read, but what really floored me—and what cued me in to the bullshit line I’d been feeding myself about my drinking history for years—is the part where Alison spent her college years drinking Clearly Canadian (and smoking).
I was drinking Malibu Rum (ew!) or SoCo (ew!!) and smoking, and I can promise you a Clearly Canadian never crossed my mind.
It isn’t that I drank all the time. And when I did drink, I probably didn’t seem nearly as out-of-control as some of the other kids at my big state school (which earned a “Top Party School at least once while I was there, if I remember correctly) seemed. At least, not most of the time.
But I could never be counted on to be the Designated Driver.
Because when other people were drinking, I needed to be drinking, too. I could not fathom how I could have fun without a drink in my hand, if a drink was an option.
It was so bad (and so predictable) that my girlfriend would routinely have to stop drinking (even though it was my turn to drive us home) and sober up, because I just wasn’t going to do it. And her even insinuating that I should brought on a big old nasty fit (I was a gem, obviously. And she is a saint. Truly.).
Today I realized that my drinking was always a problem—even when it could pass as just good fun—because I was drinking to escape, to find a version of myself I could live with. That’s why, when it was right there as an option, I could never pass it up.
So who cares all these years later, right?
Because the lies alcoholics tell ourselves are deadly. When we forget, when we hedge around the truth, we inch closer to believing that just one drink won’t hurt.
Folks ask, sometimes, if I think I could have just one drink. If maybe I have healed enough of the pain and shame that was so tangled up in who I was, if maybe now I am healthy enough that I could stop at one. What they really want to know is if I don’t want to try, just one more time to be “normal”?
Here’s my truth today: I don’t believe in normal. And I don’t think my brain or my soul was ever going to let me drink the way that some folks can—you know, where they don’t ruin their lives or break out in hives from alcohol poisoning on any given Tuesday.
I have so much beauty & joy in my life that I can trace directly back to the decision to get sober, that it would never, ever be worth the risk of trying to have just one.
I don’t miss drinking. I don’t think about it wistfully. And I’ve crafted a life (both external & interior) that I don’t want to escape from anymore. But ferreting out that lie I’ve been telling myself all this time—the one about those long lost days when I drank “normally”—well it gets me one step closer to getting grounded in my truth.
No more lies.