Now I know it’s completely Un-Australian to not drink Alcohol, but guess what? I don’t! Since I have given up drinking I have really noticed the shock and awestruck dumbfounded stares when I tell people I do not drink. Trust me I used to drink heaps, so this is a new world for me. But one I like very much.
My relationship with alcohol was becoming very unhealthy, not that long ago. I suffered through a traumatic few years of loss and grief and tragic experiences. I reached my peak mourning the loss of my beloved Mum, who I lost to Lung Cancer; with weeks and months of solid hardcore smash it back daily drinking. I decided enough was enough and it was time to call it quits.
I have written a few articles about my sobriety on my blog and I hope you have found them interesting and helpful too. I wanted to write this one about the stigma around sobriety.
I don’t know many non drinkers, and it generally is pretty challenging to go anywhere without consuming alcohol. In Australia, social drinking is an expectation, a right of passage, an assumed social behaviour. Aussies are encouraged to drink at pubs, sporting events, social events, parties, dinner, weddings, celebrations, birthdays, you name it…there is a drink involved.
When I first decided that alcohol was not going to be a daily feature in my life anymore, I had to really think about my routine; and the people and places where I spent most of my time. I spent lots of time in places where drinking was the main event, and with people who also drank a lot. Most people don’t like to drink alone, but this never bothered me! I could easily drink alone just as much as I can drink with others. No problems. You see, when you live alone, have no family or partner, you become your own best company. Trust me, I am great fun! I love spending time with me, I can go and do whatever I want solo, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. This also meant that I could drink on my own too, which became a problem.
Recently a friend made a comment to me that he had never been to the movies by himself. I will assume his age is around early fifties. This really surprised me. I go to the movies all the time by myself, travel abroad by myself, take road trips across Australia by myself, do all the fun things I want to do by myself, and I used to get tragically slaughtered by myself! Now I just smash out the soda water, sometimes flavoured with lime or lemon, oh how things have changed.
Most people are pretty surprised when they hear I don’t drink anymore. Some even suggest why I don’t just drink in moderation? Why am I being so extreme? Why not just one or two? Like being able to drink in moderation regularly is a good thing.
‘Why can’t you just have a few?’ – now that’s a classic.
Well a few drinks now turn into a few every night, that turn into 6 on Friday and 12 drinks on Saturday, and a horrible dry retching pounding headache by Sunday. And the resolve to exercise, feel awesome and be motivated across all other areas of my life, also start falling apart. So it’s best for me to cut it out, delete alcohol from the vast array of drinking choices.
Usually the people who suggest I should try drinking in moderation, also drink most days and moderation to them is drinking daily and keeping a high tolerance. I used to be this person with a high tolerance, that’s why I know. And I was proud of that tolerance, proud that I could drink most of my male friends under the table. I could drink like the best of them!
In general, I don’t like having a few drinks, I usually want more. I want 10. A few drinks “in boring moderation” does absolutely nothing for me. It’s all or nothing. Clearly I am a woman of extremes, but hey at least I have worked out what works for me. And guess what? It doesn’t include alcohol!
Being a confident independent solo adventurer, I don’t care what people think of me. I stick to my guns and do what I know is good for me. Having self respect for my body and for my rights as a woman are really important to me these days. In my promiscuous drunk debaucherous days, I can proudly say now I feel so much better for the positive choices I have made in my life. For saying no to choices that cause me harm, and yes to options that make me feel awesome, like the beach, exercising, early nights, writing and photography.
Try not to worry what others think of you, people will always have an opinion and it blows my mind how many people stop doing something they love or something that is good for them because they are worried about the stigma, or worried about what people will say. It is human to talk about other people, but they will move on. My Mum used to say about gossipers:
‘Give them something to talk about!’
Gossipers will soon move on and talk about other people and things, don’t worry about that! As long as you are not harming yourself or anyone else by your actions, your intentions are good; then keep doing what you want to do, without fearing the stigma and speculation of others.
I wish your bold actions can be inspiration and fuel for others. I hope that my thoughts and writing have inspired you, I would love to hear from you in my comment section below. How have you faced the stigma of sobriety?
Love Anita xx