Our Relationship with Alcohol and Playing Small

Happy Friday, lovelies. There are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately and I wanted to share. The first is about our “drinking” stories. Our relationship with alcohol.

Since I started to talk about my story, a lot of people have come to me.

Most recently, a woman messaged me on Facebook and said, “I don’t know if I have ‘a story’ but reading your words makes me want to look at my own issues.”

My first reaction was, of course you have a story.

I was referring to her life story; she was referring to her drinking one. Either way, it gave me pause. She’s not sure if she’s got a drinking story ‘big’ enough to qualify her bringing it up. A lot of messages I get are like this. Women who don’t see themselves in the image of what we’ve labeled ‘addicts’ and so they question the fact that they’re questioning themselves in the first place. Because once you say, “this might be a problem,” well then what the fuck does that mean? We’ve made it quite weird as a society to talk about our relationships to drugs and alcohol, and it keeps a lot of people quiet and alone (raises hand!). I often wonder what my path would’ve looked like if I knew more women growing up, or in social circles, at work, wherever, that didn’t drink and talked about it as openly as we would, say, our food choices, or our preferences in bed. Not something we need to make unsolicited statements about constantly, but when asked, or if it comes up, or if we feel like talking about it, it’s on the table and fair game and not something we have to save for a special, anonymous group.

My friend Holly has written quite a lot about this. About the fact that we as society view our ‘relationship with alcohol’ as a very black and white issue – it’s either a “problem” or it’s “fine” – when in fact there’s big, long spectrum of grey. Holly says:

We have an idea that we need to be falling down and lose everything to address our relationship with alcohol. NOT TRUE. If you're worried about your drinking, if it's causing shame or fear or keeping you from the life you're dreaming about, that's more than enough to begin. 

A big part of the reason I started talking openly about it is because I want women (or men, I like men too!) to reach out to me, to feel like they can explore the topic without labeling themselves anything. To say, “Hey, this is sort of freaking me out, what do you think?” or “I don’t know what it means exactly, but this is how I’m feeling.”

And another reason – an even bigger one – is that I had this idea that people who didn’t drink must really, truly, not be very happy. Like not really happy. Like it must be always a little less shiny and fun. Sort of boring, or at least less exciting.

I saw being sober as either a choice made based on religion (in which case, no thanks, because you were probably highly judgmental and closed-minded) or a consequence of being an addict who spun out of control, and so you were forced into it.

Either way, I didn’t want it, and I didn’t know anyone who did.

So I've decided to be someone who’s out there in the world – a woman, a mama, a lots-of-things – living a big, whole life – who’s willing to talk about the fact that she doesn’t drink anymore - and more importantly - share why, and what it's like this way. It's not a secret. I don't think it should be.

(Sidenote: I read an interview once with an author talking about the process of writing her first book. The interviewer asked how she came up with the topic for the book? She said she'd searched and searched for the book or the person that was going to save her from herself, the perfect words that would help her through her own struggles, and while she'd found a lot of words and a lot of folks who touched on bits of it, she couldn't find the whole story, stated exactly how she wanted, anywhere. So she wrote the book she needed to read. It's like that.)

Which brings me to my next point: something my friend asked me a few weeks ago:

Do you think anyone has a healthy relationship with alcohol?

Yes. Sure.

I don't think everyone needs to stop drinking and I don't think alcohol is categorically "bad." At all.

I don’t care if you drink. I don’t care if you drink around me, and in fact, please do if you want to, because it makes me feel weird when you stop being you around me.

I am not anti-drinking.

I’m anti-hiding-from-ourselves-and-each-other.

I’m anti-shame.

I’m anti-let’s-pretend-that’s-not-happening.

I’m anti- anything that is fucking up your life and keeping you from being free.

I’m anti-playing small.

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So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. I have some big posts coming next week about my experience with AA, and why it’s worked for me, as part of Hip Sobriety’s and Alcoholics Anonymous: An 11 Part Series.

Keep talking. Keep reaching. Keep on playing big.

Love, Laura

Oh, also, I’m on day 12 of Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge and it’s getting so much better. YAY