When the 10th of October rolls around in about 2 weeks’ time, I’ll be hitting the 6 month mark of alcohol freeness. I’ve been thinking about it maybe being a good time to go more public. I don’t know about sharing this blog though. I don’t mind this space being out there in the public, but I’m not really feeling like I want to wave a huge flag and shout “over here!” “look at this!”.
If I signposted the way here from, say, my Facebook (and it’s not exactly hidden, if someone decides to stalk it down), then I’d start to feel like I had a kind of responsibility to sanitise the content here for all my multifarious Facebook audience. It would become the brown mush of mixed mala colours – in an attempt to be palatable to all, it would become nothing to no-one. Least of all me.
Because I’m the most important person here.
No, really – I’m not being self-deprecating or sarcastic – and I’m certainly not downplaying your importance. In your own life. But these writings here have been all about me. At times boring and repetitive. At times a conduit for communication. At other times, it’s been a staging ground; getting fledgling thoughts down on internet paper so that I could walk through the days a little more sure of my own beliefs. But it was never intended as some kind of “finished product”. Not that I’ll ever be a finished product anyway.
But back to thoughts of public. I also want to talk about the “A” word.
Over the past few days I’ve been reading some Sarah Hepola posts on Jezebel, shared with me by a friend. I went on to share them with another friend who semi-recently has had some really shitty experiences with not just alcohol, but it’s definitely been in the mix.
Anyway, reading there lead me on to reading other places like Hip Sobriety and I got a little enmeshed in thoughts about the “Alcoholic” word and AA.
I don’t like the “alcholic” word (whether with a big or small A). I don’t like it for me, and I don’t even like it for the world – but I guess if it helps people to have a label, what harm. Wait, hold on – lots of fucking harm. Sorry – there’s a problem out there. There are lots of alcohol-related problems of various sizes out there, and people are kind of being kept from even thinking of helping themselves because of this fucking label. Basically, alcohol use is being split, worldwide, into two camps: “Normal Drinking” and “Alcoholism”. And if you’re not an alcoholic, you’ve got no problem. And if you’re afraid of being an alcoholic (a made-up term that has no medical definition, by the way), if you’re afraid of self-diagnosing with a disease that (according to AA) means you will experience addiction and craving and never ever be better in your life again – and who wouldn’t be – then you are nearly forced to label yourself as a “normal” drinker.
A normal drug-user.
Hold on, did that sound judgemental?
Sorry, not sorry. Here are some drugs: Caffeine, Chocolate, Heroin, Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine, Marijuana …
Here are some statements:
- I’m a normal coffee user.
- I’m a normal heroin user.
- I’m a normal drinker.
- I think I should cut down on my cocaine use, but I’m not a cocainaholic.
- I’m giving up chocolate for a while because it makes me feel unwell and I find it hard to stop once I start. But I don’t have a problem.
The problem with drugs is that they’re addictive. They’re medicines and they have an effect on our bodies. And it’s okay to admit to that.
I stopped smoking. I am no longer a smoker. I don’t feel the need to label myself as a lifelong nicotine addict who can never “smoke normally”. As it transpires, I was actually one of the lucky few who could have a few cigarettes on a night out and not experience cravings the next day. Not so with alcohol, unfortunately.
I’ve observed people open a box of chocolates and be unable to stop once they’ve started.
That’s not abnormal, in my mind. It’s a pretty logical reaction to a drug that makes you feel good.
I’ve stopped drinking now. As more months go past, I feel even better about my decision for me. I don’t think I’m likely to go back to drinking alcohol. I’m not good at regulating when I do, and I currently don’t even feel drawn to the image of a version of me that “can” only have a few.
Drinking is a problem if it’s a problem for you. So is the use of any drug. If it’s keeping you from a version of life you can imagine for yourself. There’s no need for labelling, just for decision-making.
Sorry for the preachy tone. I guess I’m worried that people might ascribe labels and judgements to me and I’m pre-loading with arguments against that.
Probably not time yet to go public, then.