I was working my last event as the Market Lead for Bumble in Winnipeg. It was a Bumble Bar Tab, which is where local teams of city reps set up at bars and give free drink tickets to people who show their Bumble profiles. Even though I was working, I got hit with the “so, why don’t you drink?” more times in one night than all the times in the four previous months combined since I stopped drinking.
I wasn’t upset, or emotional. Just stumped I guess? I hadn’t really found a good way to answer that question in a way that felt genuine to me. There are also a million answers I could share.
I mean…I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t left standing there with my mouth open trying to figure out what the hell to say to a stranger who knows nothing about me or my story.
I’ve never gone to AA or worked the steps because stopping was a choice for me, but for many it’s not. The stigma and shame around talking about any type of addiction is often so bad that it makes life worse for those affected by it, which is FUCKED. While not everyone knows someone battling alcoholism personally, grey area drinking is quite widespread and unquestioned. Let’s be honest – not many of us actually know how many drinks a week is past the threshold of harmful for us, and not many of us count or care.
I love this quote from Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington:
Booze is deeply interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives—both at work and play, and from our family time to our love lives. And while I still don’t identify with the term “alcoholic,” my research, both academic and in the field, has actually led me to believe that anybody who drinks on a regular basis is addicted to alcohol to some degree—the negative consequences of this addiction more acute for some, depending on individual life circumstances.
I didn’t (and don’t) really know how to explain my reasons because I’m still figuring them all out. It feels like trying to tell a story that I’m in the middle of. I told myself so many times that once it’s been long enough, then I could talk about it.
So I haven’t been saying anything. Because I’ve been waiting to be on the other side of this transition where everything is figured out, neat, tidy and triumphant. Because that’s an easier narrative to swallow, and we all know that.
It’s the classic, “I was doing my thing, which led to a downturn of some sort, which meant I struggled and got a little dirty but now I’m back up, better than before, I’ve showered and inexplicably own a Ferrari!!!!!!”
But that’s not what this process has been like. At all. It largely has not been all that fun, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been rewarding.
What about the part where you’re figuring out how the hell to get back up in a way that doesn’t screw things up even worse? What about the part where it takes a while and/or multiple tries? What about the part where you don’t feel like yourself? The FOMO? It’s easier to look someone in the face and respect them when they come to you standing tall and triumphant with their shit figured out.
It’s harder when they’re vulnerable and gritting their teeth just to get through to the day. Eventually, they will be ready to fully rise, not the same person they were when they fell.
I’m not just talking about getting off the sauce. We are conditioned to celebrate and tell the stories that talk mostly about the after, but not what it took to get there. We reflexively look away when we see someone struggling.
As usual, I’m not coming to you pretending to be on the other side of some sort of mountain with all the answers and a really fancy car (again, how?????? also FUCK YOU STEVE from YOUTUBE AND YOUR FERRARI).
I’m so sick of reading stuff that skips over the awkward, struggle-y bits. If I wanted you to think this was easy, I’d wait a year and write a blog post then about my life transformation and blah blah blah buy this coconut water that will also heal your childhood trauma or whatever.
At the end of the day, I have so many ways I could answer the “why” of being booze free and I haven’t settled on one good one yet. So here’s an array for your enjoyment:
Laugh and shrug. Maybe at the same time????
I love making pancakes and dancing in my living room to Lizzo on Sunday morning and nothing harshes that vibe quite like being hungover.
Because I don’t need to be drunk to make terrible jokes via text and eat an entire large pizza to myself.
It’s a long story.
Subtext: you’re a stranger and I’d probably only tell you once I’ve had a minimum of five drinks……….which isn’t gonna happen……sooOOoooOOO this is where I bite into my mozzarella stick and stare at you while chewing slowly.
I didn’t like the person I was when I drank.
Shorter answer (also good for making people regret that they asked)
Alcohol makes me sad and slutty (lol).
I didn’t like the decisions I made and the things that happened. So after some self-reflection and time spent experimenting and being sober curious, I decided that cutting it out pretty much entirely (aka not saying I’ll never have one ever again, but it’s definitely not a part of my life anymore) would be for the best.
Practical answer (good for a date I think but don’t take my word for it)
It’s just not my thing anymore. Also, do you remember that commercial from the 90s where they said everybody has a thing? What’s your thing?
After Q4 of 2018, things were volatile. The forecasted losses were much greater than the projected earnings so we made some cuts and calculated risks. After an adjustment period and minor recession in Q1, things seem to be looking up!
Because it was a good choice and one I made for myself when I was at my happiest, and no matter how hard it’s been I’ve never regretted it for a second.
Because everything in my life felt like it was already changing anyway, so I figured….fuck it. What’s one more thing? NOTHING IS PERMANENT. In with the old out with the new weeeeeeeee. I took my old drinking habits and threw them in a dumpster along with some other baggage and lit a match and let it all BURN.
Long but short answer
[Tells story of 2019] So yes, I had a quarter-life crisis as soon as I turned 25. Was that your question?
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125 days ago, I made the decision to become booze free 🎉 It wasn’t because I got pregnant (lol) or because I started taking a medication that didn’t mix well with alcohol. I didn’t hit rock bottom. I didn’t do it because I’m trying to cut fat for summer (F$CK DIET CULTURE). I didn’t wake up with a hangover and say “never again.” I didn’t have some sort of spiritual awakening and decide to become *pure.* For the past two years, I’ve been experimenting with periods of abstinence, questioning my relationship with booze and exploring how it makes me feel and why I drink. So I guess you could say I’ve been some variation of sober curious for a while now. This isn’t anything new, but talking about it is….new. I wasn’t classified as an alcoholic by any means, which is why I want to be clear that this was a choice. Drinking behaviours and alcohol use exists on a spectrum, and I think people often forget that (Google ‘grey area drinking’ if you are curious). However, it can’t be denied that there’s a huge stigma around talking about this sort of thing. For people living with alcohol use disorder quitting is not an opinion. It’s a necessity to stay sober. On the plane home from New Orleans, at one of the clearest, happiest moments of my life I started to ask myself these questions: “What is the role of booze in my life?” “Am I the person I want to be when I drink?” “Why am I drinking so much?” “Who am I without alcohol?” The answers were right there. I couldn’t ignore them. Especially since I know that denying the truth to yourself is the quickest way to set fire to your inner peace. So here’s a question that has nothing to do with alcohol but everything to do with personal growth: Are you clearing enough room to ask yourself tough questions? Are you staying curious and nonjudgmental toward yourself and your own behaviours? Most importantly…are you ignoring the answers when they come to you? #sobercurious #boozeless
To be clear…I realize nobody is trying to be an asshole by asking. They’re usually just curious. Also, I go to LOTS of social events where nobody even notices. I don’t judge – people let me do my thing and I let them do theirs. I just thought this topic would be a good way to get the conversation started 🙂