I was reading a young yoga instructors rant on Instagram yesterday, where she was claiming she never wants to put the poison of alcohol in her system again. She mentioned peer pressure, being called a party pooper, and basically being shamed into joining the drinkers in the group with their drinking. Full stop.
Alcohol Is a Drug
Let’s get clear about something right upfront. Alcohol is a depressant. As you consume more alcohol your overall systems (emotional, mental, spiritual, physical) are being suppressed. In the recreational use of alcohol, this has a slight euphoric effect. We feel a bit high with the first few drinks. But as we continue to consume this powerful drug, the fun turns sanguine. We begin suppressing the good stuff as well.
As an addictive substance alcohol stands alone as an acceptable vice. People love to drink. Drinking = happiness, celebration, relaxation, recreation. And drinking is probably one of the most harmful habits we can acquire. As we come to rely on the euphoric properties on a more regular basis, our brains become conditioned to think that “fun” doesn’t happen without the inclusion of drinks. How many of us come home from a hard day at work and “reward” ourselves with a drink? I’d guess the number is very large. And alcohol companies are working to keep their image glamourous and hyper-happy.
What I’ve noticed in partners who drank on a regular basis is that alcohol became somewhat of a required additive. Friday and Saturday nights were for drinking a lot. The other days of the week were lighter drinking. But a lot of their attention and energy would go to “what are we going to drink?” And it was often a given, that there would be alcohol consumption on a daily basis. I am a bit worried about that habit, but I have also seen people who can manage to drink regularly and be “okay.”
She Doesn’t Have a Problem with Drinking
In my relationship with a drinking-enthusiast, I was concerned about how much she was drinking. She was not. (Actually, she was concerned about it, and liked the idea that she was dating a man who “didn’t drink.”) My friend summed it up for me. She doesn’t have a problem with her drinking. You have a problem with her drinking.” He was right. And he was also defending his own vice habits a bit.
The bottom line on your own drinking: if it’s not bothering you, and you’re happy with where your life and health are heading, you’re good.
The bottom line on someone else’s drinking: if their drinking is affecting your relationship or your respect for the other person there IS a drinking problem, but it might only be yours.
The bottom line for couples and drinking: if the drinking is affecting the relationship, you might want to look at how to change or modify the patterns.
I don’t care if you drink or you don’t drink. I often choose to abstain from alcohol for various reasons. Most of the time, I don’t need to be putting a depressant into my system for any reason. Other times I am triggered (or upset) by someone else’s drinking. At that point it is up to me to make a request, “Would you consider not drinking at all this weekend so we can see how that goes?” Or to make a modification in our relationship agreements, “I’m happy being the designated driver, but I don’t appreciate it when you get so smashed at the party.”
Making Peace with Drinking or Not Drinking
In the month of October, I’m going to abstain from drinking any alcohol. It’s just for me. I’d love you to join me, but it’s really not about you.
When I don’t drink I know my emotions and mood swings are natural and not caused by any ingestion of alcohol. When I don’t drink I know that my preferred beverage is bubbly water, and that has zero calories, so I might drop a pound or two. When I don’t drink, I’m making a statement to the world, to my friends, and to my colleagues: alcohol is not important to me.
I have recently been joking with my inner group of friends about not being “much of a drinker.” The joke part is, I was going through a brief love affair with a certain tequila. I enjoyed it. I was enjoying the escape or release of the shot or two. I really enjoyed the fetish of the “let’s have a shot of añejo.” I was liking it a bit too much. Like I might really go for a Frappucino at any point during a given day. I did like this tequila. And I understood a tiny bit of the allure and appeal of getting “into” a drinking habit. For fun, drink. For relaxation, drink. As a reward, drink. As an aphrodisiac, drink. Okay, let’s not buy any añejo, I said to myself that last few times I’ve been next door to the liquor store having dinner. In the same way I refrain from buying a pint of ice cream every time I go to the grocery store. Just don’t do it.
In my relationship with the drinking enthusiast, I often felt they were using the alcohol to exit the emotional connection in the relationship. More likely, they were using the alcohol to numb their own emotional connection to themselves, my proximity was just collateral damage. Can I have a drink just to celebrate? Sure. I can also have ice cream at birthday parties, but I don’t need to bring home a half-gallon of Peppermint during the Christmas holidays, just because I like it.
There’s nothing official, but I’ll be tagging this post and my non-drinking celebration #soberoctober. Let me know if you’d like to participate. I’m happy to provide inspiration, accountability, and praise for your efforts to live more simply and cleanly. Drink if you want. Don’t drink if you want. But when it starts affecting our relationship it is my responsibility to tell you. If we can’t come to an agreement about it, perhaps it’s time for us to go our separate ways. It’s okay, I’m just not that much into drinking. And I’m certainly more into you than I am getting buzzed with you. In fact, for me, often, getting buzzed is a way to check-out of the relationship, not get closer. I understand this about my past enthusiast, and I understand this about myself.
More posts from The Third Glass series:
- The Trouble with Alcohol: She Likes To Drink, I Don’t
- The Third Glass is an Anti-Aphrodisiac for Me
- Drinking Fuzzy Navels and Spending Time Together Doing Nothing
- Drinking Is Not the Problem: It’s the Emotional Exit that Wrecks Relationships
- Why Adding Cocktails to Your Emotional Mix Might Not Be Working
- If Drinking is An Issue In Your Relationship: Check-in w/ Yourself