My mental health has been the excuse I’ve used alcohol as a ‘coping mechanism’ in the past but alcohol is a depressant. No other way to describe it. It suppresses our minds. So I was using a bottle or a glass of depression to manage my depression. Funny when you look at it that way isn’t it?
The book I’m reading at the moment (Rational Recovery by Jack Trimpey) is a very blunt and at times rude way of describing our relationship with alcohol. There is a reason for his approach though – He takes away the layers of character we give alcohol and dismisses the many myths of why we think we need and use booze.
Society glamourises alcohol and we see this from a young age. We see our parents, family, older friends and people in the public eye drinking and enjoying it and it looks so cool. Sure, it tastes rubbish but wow, it makes people so funny and happy. Screw the taste, I want that buzz!
I remember drinking cans of Carling lager as a teenager (my Dad’s drink of choice) and it was awful. He offered me a can every now and again if we were watching a footy game in the house or hosting a family party. My Dad, as I’ve described in the past is a binge drinker and would be rarely seen without a beer in the house (after work of course) – I would sip the can of lager for hours and the desire to have another can was not particularly strong. I’m not sure he’d have shared more than one can with his under age son anyways but he was the responsible adult in all of this giving his kid an addictive substance. Why?
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here. Every parent introduced their kid to drink didn’t they? Better to give them a taste of it in the safety of the family home than necking half a bottle of vodka in a park and ending up in A&E. No?
I’m sure everybody has their own story of how alcohol was introduced into their life but for me it was seemingly the natural succession of Dad to Son. Have your first can son, I’ll take you for your first pint son. I’ll get you pissed son, Hangovers are part of growing up son.
Only for me, I was never massively bothered about drinking and going out. I liked playing footy and studying. I liked going into the woods with my air gun. I liked chilling in the house. I had a part time job working evenings and weekends at Tesco. I went to Sixth Form College then Uni and it’s forced upon you from every direction. House parties, pubs, clubs, gigs, etc. From the off I saw how lethal and unpredictable booze could make people including myself. I had fights, fall outs, injuries, dangerous decision making etc. and all for the sake of fitting in and following the ‘path’ us young people are expected to follow. Just like our Dads. Our Mothers. Our Grandparents.
Only I can’t blame it solely on that simplistic notion. In fact, my Mam rarely drank and still doesn’t. Less so these days. I can only count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen my Mam pissed. My Dad on the other hand, I’d fill a hand every week if I still lived at home. My Grandparents who I stayed with on a weekend didn’t drink. Not a drop. Never saw either of them have an alcoholic drink in all the years I spent with them. My Dad’s Dad died before I was born so it’s difficult to even call him ‘Grandad’ but he was a drunk and treated my Nanna horrendously from what I have heard. So my Dad’s father was a piss head. My Dad is a piss head and I turned out to be a piss head. My brother is a piss head too.
So that’s sorted. It’s “hereditary”.
Let’s just discount the 50% of my genetics on my Mam’s side where nobody drank. Fits the narrative easier doesn’t it and gives me an excuse to drink and justify why I succumb to the stuff.
I’m trying to shift my mindset back to that of my younger being. When I wasn’t blurred by the experience of life and alcohol. I want to be that 14-17 year old me again, looking at booze with an objective mindset. Questioning what the point of it is and why people need it to improve their being. If I’m to stay sober for the rest of my days I need to separate alcohol from my mental health and my upbringing. I need to ignore what society expects me to do and what others decide to do.
Alcohol is a choice. It’s not forced down our necks. We don’t need it to survive. We choose to drink when we’re happy, sad, anxious, angry, giddy, lonely, embarrassed or relaxed.
It’s not up to me if you choose to drink or not. I can only focus on me and I will do so for the rest of my life. My choice is not to drink alcohol.