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I drank because…

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For my beautifully intelligent and innocent niece who asked me why I used to drink.

I drank because I wanted to have fun, it was normalised, everyone did it.

I drank because my parents drank.

I drank because my peers drank.

I drank because despite the fear I felt about being drunk for the first time, I liked the loss of control. It made me bold to kiss boys and tell my secrets and dance all night.

I drank because I learned to like the taste of beer and wine. But never vodka. Vodka had to find a home in coke, ribena, milk. Anything to take away the sting.

I drank because of the stories we could tell, of the shared drunkenness, of the shared embarrassment.

I drank because it made me more beautiful, it made me look cool.

I drank because I was scared and insecure, I needed its fake courage to make my shyness disappear.

I drank because I didn’t question why.

And it is how you have fun, isn’t it?

I drank because I had numbed myself to the aftertaste, to the side effects, to the hangovers.

I drank because after a few I wanted more.

I drank because I thought I was invincible, I am young and my body can handle it.

I drank because I thought I was happy with the glass of sauvignon in my hand.

I stopped because my mind and soul can’t handle it. I didn’t want to be numb. I wanted real courage, real beauty, real fun. Because I wanted to be truly happy.


2 responses »

  1. An honest and emotional posting, Nancy. I don’t know where else your niece might get such support.

    Personally I’ve never got any kick out of drink. It’s held to reduce inhibitions, but really it tends to show up one’s underlying mood. Mine is a tad serious, so it probably turns me into (more of) a party pooper.

    I’ve only ever got drunk once, and it was on rose hip wine in a farmhouse on Silsden Moor, rented by friends. It was icy cold, but our host was proud of her ability to light a prepared fire with just one match, and we soon warmed up. When we came out of the house at two in the morning there had been a fall of snow and the unexpected transformation was quite shocking, like we’d just landed on another planet. Next morning I felt dreadful. I realised that we’d had a good time, but we could have done it without the alcohol and its kickback. We just needed to be less inhibited, and more honest and straightforward about our social relationships.

    I wonder how people learn to enjoy themselves. They seem to pick up the social model that’s available to them, then that becomes a matter of habit. An older friend told me how he met his wife – they danced and chatted. A shared social experience, physical contact and collaboration, and modest intimacy to exchange their thoughts. Not much to ask for, eh? But by the late 1960s cheap amplification was destroying much of that, allowing music to dominate a room; now it’s far worse. I admit to being rather sensitive to noise myself, it makes me withdraw and shut up, others may feel more positive about it. But I think of that wall of noise as the start of the social atomisation that is so prominent today. Now people expect to enjoy themselves by being deafened. Hardly surprising that they resort to drink to try and cope with the frustration of being in a social environment, but being unable to communicate.
    Somehow this process will have to be unwound. You’ve offered a good start to your niece. True happiness is a bit of a long shot though.

    • Thanks for the comment, Barry, raises some interesting questions.
      We are able to have fun, laugh, and enjoy ourselves until late adolescence when, nowadays, it seems impossible to do so without drinking. All to do with the social model, I think.
      That loss of inhibitions, the relaxed feeling alcohol is supposed to give, I find comes naturally during the course of an evening. Like you say, we just need to be more honest and straightforward.
      So if happiness is a long shot, we can but try!


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