I have never been a ‘good drunk’.
Even so, my social circles–who all knew this–would always encourage my drinking. The number one thing I’ve learnt about our drinking culture and peer pressure is that if someone is not happy about your decision not to get drunk, it is not your problem, it is theirs.
I’ve had friends hold back my hair while I return a concoction of cocktails; shots and vodka sunrises all over the pavement outside a club. I’ve had friends who have had to call it a night early because I wasn’t allowed into a venue, or lost my wallet and forgot my ID. I’ve had friends hold me back from physically fighting an ex because of an alcohol-fueled heartbreak. I’ve had younger siblings and cousins watch as I weakly crawl into their pink, single beds to sleep off a headache at family BBQs. I’ve had parents pick me up from random houses the morning after. And that’s just the beginning.
I’m done with drinking like that. Shouldn’t that be a good thing? Shouldn’t that be celebrated?
Instead, I’m usually met with, “Ohh, come on! You’re so wild/fun/free-spirited/crazy/life-of-the-party when you drink. Don’t be boring.” But I know my personality is far from boring and I do not have to prove myself to anyone anymore.
I drank for reasons that I can only identify now after I stepped back from it all and allowed time to ask myself why I was drinking like that. My drinking stemmed from social anxiety. Not the kind where I would freak out because of all the people, but the kind where I would be overwhelmed with a sense of excitement that all my friends were in one place at one time. Similar to a puppy when its family returns from a holiday. Alcohol calmed me down (at the start).
I also loved the feeling of freedom and lack of control, when I tried to control everything else in my life. And there was an unspoken, unacknowledged pressure I put on myself that made me want to be ‘the loosest chick’ in the group as if that was something to strive toward.
I drank to deal with the uncertainty about who I was, what I wanted and who I wanted to surround myself with.
A toll to pay
Believe me, no one gives you a crown or a medal for drinking until you black out and there’s no photo of you up on a wall of fame. There are endless stories that I can recall now and usually laugh about, however, 9/10 of those stories at the time were horrible and a little traumatising. I got very used to shoving unwanted memories away deep down, even altering how the night unfolded in my head just to get through the crippling anxiety about what I did in the days following.
It takes guts
It is a difficult thing to tell a group of people who love to party hard that you’re just keen for a beer and a laugh and bed. It takes even more willpower to not fall into the trap when everyone around you is drinking a lot, looking like they’re having the time of their lives. I’ve had numerous slip-ups over the years as I’ve changed my relationship with alcohol. Learning to accept those slip-ups without hating myself is all part of the journey.
To be honest, sometimes getting caught up in it all has led to very fun nights with amazing people. Nursing a hangover when you rarely have them is okay; I don’t feel guilty for wasting a day if I’m surrounded by loved ones and eating pizza, feeling sorry for myself but knowing that I make the most of every other day. Sometimes, allowing yourself to just watch Netflix and mooch around the house in a delirious state is great. It’s when it becomes a regular occurrence or starts to affect other areas of your life that it may benefit you to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Around the time my binge drinking was getting old, I started learning to surf and practicing yoga and would head off on weekend adventures up or down the coast. From these new passions, I started meeting people whom I connected with, without the alcohol. We would go snorkeling or go on walks or have potluck dinners and all wake up early to meet for a surf. Our socialising wasn’t based on pre-drinks and going out. We hung out and made things, created, danced, swam and played, clear-headed and full of vitality.
When I get tempted to have more than what I would usually drink, the thing that has helped me most is slowing down and asking myself whether I need another one. I remind myself that If I do have another, it may lead to another which will lead to me waking up alone and anxious in my room with a migraine and no motivation to get out and do things I love, that bring me joy and lightness.
If you want to support a movement that encourages people to change the way they drink for the better and to help us live in a world where confidence and identity aren’t measured by a standard serving, follow Hello Sunday Morning on Instagram and Facebook for your daily dose of inspiration on how to make the most of your weekend!