Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You and Me and Alcohol...

I don't drink. It's not a conscious decision as in "I am never going to drink". It's more like a combination of a lack of desire and opportunity. I will have a glass of wine on occasion or margaritas with girlfriends, but in general, it's just not something I do. It doesn't bother me when other people drink as long as the situation doesn't degrade into one of those times where I end up the "caretaker" of a bunch of wasted individuals. I guess at this age and this time of my life, I have an actual child to be a mother to, so I don't feel like I should have to fill that role for my adult friends or family members. In general, this has not been an issue. What does end up an issue for people is my abstinence. Most people I meet assume that I am not drinking either because I am in recovery or because I am holier than thou. Neither of which is the case, but there doesn't seem to be an effective way to communicate that to other people without sounding like a judgmental jerk (thus probably proving their hypothesis).

 I don't know why I don't like to drink. I like the taste of alcohol just fine. I think I am somewhat uncomfortable with that feeling after 1-2 drinks of being tipsy and relaxed and not quite in control of the situation. I can understand how it might be a release for a lot of people but for me, it only serves to increase my anxiety. To make matters worse, I feel like I have made some of my worst life choices while drinking. I seem much less clear headed once alcohol is involved and there have been plenty of mornings following "wild nights" that I have thought "Why didn't I just...?" So from my perspective, my life functions quite well without alcohol and therefore, I have little desire to add it to my life. 

Unfortunately, in my family, this is akin to becoming a Hare Krishna or a polygamist's wife. It's just not something they understand and subsequently is often viewed with more than a bit of suspicion. Many the family gathering has occurred when I am offered a beer which is politely declined. But what I have noticed is that if I don't follow it up with some sort of explanation - "I am driving", "I am on medication", or "I am pregnant", I am regarded as if I have a couple of horns sprouting from my head. Not to mention that most of my excuses (aside from pregnancy) are typically dismissed with a wave of the hand and a "oh, that doesn't matter" type of comment. What I do not understand is what is the vested interest from other drinkers in trying to get a non-drinker to have a drink? And for that matter, why in those situations, am I the one who ends up feeling as if I am being rude as opposed to the one who is the victim of peer pressure which is actually the case? 

As a parent, I find this issue even more concerning because I know how much I struggle with feeling pressured in instances when I am the person saying "no" of my own volition. I can't imagine how much tougher it would be for a teenager who is already on the fence about alcohol or drugs in their own mind to be faced with a group of friends trying to push them in the direction of using or drinking. My hope is that by abstaining myself in most instances, I will be able to offer some future insight to my own children and model by actions rather than words. 

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