A couple of years back, I wrote a post entitled, “Am I an alcoholic?” I don’t think I am, so I kept drinking. Since then, I’ve googled the hell out of things like:
- Reasons to quit drinking even if you’re not a real alcoholic
- Benefits of quitting drinking for non-alcoholics
- I quit drinking but I’m not an alcoholic
I was looking for permission to stop. I had it in my head that unless I was a “real’ alcoholic, there was no reason to give up the booze. But apparently I wanted to stop drinking as I kept searching for examples of people who did not consider themselves “real” alcoholics, but stopped anyway. Regardless of whether they actually met the qualifications, I have found people have a tendency to accept the label once they give up the booze.
And then I happened upon a blog, Tired of Thinking About Drinking, that didn’t seem to be so label-centric. Here was someone who drank like me, but still decided to quit. Belle describes herself as having a high bottom. Perhaps I too have a high bottom. Or maybe it doesn’t matter what kind of bottom I have. (Physically, or drink-wise.) Why can’t I just stop drinking because I’m bored of it? Why do I have to trash my life and kill myself, like my brothers did? Why do I have to be an abusive drunk, like my father was? Can’t I quit because I’m fed up? Because I hate what alcohol did to my brothers, regardless of whether it does the same to me?
I decided to stop struggling with the “real”-alcoholic-or-not question, and find out for myself whether I feel better not drinking. I gave myself permission to stop drinking and signed up for Belle’s 100-Day Sober Challenge, labels be damned. Sort of.
I still have issues with the stigma of not drinking. What if people think I’m a “real” alcoholic?
So I have employed various pretexts. For January, I said I was doing Dry January. When January was over, I said I was giving up alcohol for Lent. (Never mind I gave up Catholicism years ago.) When I posted on Facebook that I was giving up alcohol for Lent, “Who’s with me?,” there was a bit of an uproar. Who knew giving up the Jesus juice for 46 days would be so controversial? I also had a few takers. Friends who, like me, are tired of drinking but need a pretext to stop. (If you’d like a permission slip, email me and I’ll send you one.)
I’m getting close to being over what other people think about my choice to live more healthfully. Seriously, how stupid is it that we have to make excuses to be mindful, at mid-life, of our health? As one of my newly-sober sisters said:
When people ask me why I’m not drinking, I tell them I’m an alcoholic. It’s hilarious. And it shuts them right up.
Here I am, Day 50. I might be an alcoholic. I might not. Either way, not drinking is feeling pretty damn good.