Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teetotalin' Three Years and Counting

It isn't often I write a blog post that goes unpublished.  It is even more rare when I actually write a post, don't publish it, stew on it for over two years, and then decide to go ahead with a whole new draft.  Today is one of those re-do days.  I didn't sit on this post because it wasn't written well or didn't have a point: I sat on it because I didn't understand why I was writing it.  I didn't understand the me behind it.

Three years ago from last weekend, I consumed my last alcoholic beverage.  I'm not proud, disappointed, happy, or any emotion.  It just isn't my thing.

The problem with being a teetotaler, a non-drinker, is that everyone wants me to have a reason.  Everyone seems to want me to have been an alcoholic or have been witness to extreme alcoholism or have an addiction to something else.  It isn't acceptable to simply not like drinking alcohol.  "There's a drink for everyone," I've heard so many times.  Not true.  Even in the sweetest daiquiris, I can still taste that bit of alcohol, that stinging bitterness that doesn't go down quite right.  I just don't like it.

The other problem with being a teetotaler is that I have consumed alcohol in the past.  Though I was completely alcohol-free until after I was 21, I did drink very occasionally for a couple years.  I have sampled the whole range of alcoholic beverages, from micro-brews and small-batch wines to top-shelf tequila and whiskey.  I know what I'm missing out on.  I know from experience how I am effected by drinking alcohol. I am not a mean drunk or a nice drunk, more or less inhibited, more giddy and alive, or sleepy and dragging.  I am raw.  What little brain-to-mouth filter I possess while sober goes completely out the window, and I turn into a version of myself I'd prefer not to become.

I've spent the last three years looking for a defense of my not drinking, trying to wrestle out of myself some reason why I don't drink, seeking that perfect one-liner that gets people off my back in restaurants for ordering the sodapop instead of the stiff drinks.  The only thing I've really figured out is that I shouldn't have to defend myself.  This little bit of self-confidence was the me I was missing.  I don't need a reason.  I don't need to formulate an elaborate story that explains why I don't drink alcohol.  It's just a choice I've made, and if other people don't like it, that's their problem.

I'm not proud of myself for this decision as much as I am finally satisfied by it.  My not drinking is okay.  It isn't a judgment thing.  It isn't a righteous thing.  This decision isn't a moral argument or religious conviction, and it certainly has nothing to do with ideals.  I don't have a problem with other people drinking responsibly as long as other people don't have a problem with me not drinking at all.

Three years and counting, I'm a teetotaler.  It's a label I accept, and a target I will no longer defend.

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