I Don't Want to Get Drunk to Cope Anymore
I don’t think I have a bad relationship with alcohol. I could answer the ‘why get drunk’ question with I get drunk to cope in the past. Getting drunk feels like relief in times of hardship. It literally takes away all the problems because it takes away the ability to communicate rationally. No one wants to reason with the unreasonable. Though, I have admiration for those who try, including myself.
In Australia, alcohol is everyone’s mate, whether good or bad. There is a drinking culture here that is unrivalled. Sometimes I feel that unless you’re not drinking because of religion or because you’re pregnant, there is judgement. Certainly, I have broken my night out three-drinks-only rule and returned home at 3am.
Over New Years, I came to lots of different realisations. If you read my New Year E&OC, you know my mantra for 2021 is to lean into fear. While that looks like many different things, it also means I have to face things more quickly than before. It means not using alcohol as a way to cope or to escape. I realised that I don’t want to get drunk anymore to feel pleasure, I want to feel pleasure without substance.
This New Years just passed was a universal let down. There was no relief from 2020 going into 2021. Awful. On that night, I had my whole plan – finish work, journal, drink on my balcony, and ring in the New Year with some drunk joy. Most of that did happen, but it was not how I expected. Instead of being excited and enjoying the feel-good feeling of drinking, I felt horrendous. Too much had happened in the year for it to be enjoyable. There was too much tension.
I separated myself and stopped drinking when I finished my champagne bottle. The moon watched me sitting on my balcony, sad, lonely and unhappy. I’m really thankful for that night. It saved me from many more hangover recovery days. That’s not to say I don’t have a high tolerance for alcohol, by the way. Don’t get it twisted – I could drink you under the table.
What I’m saying is that getting drunk to cope is now overrated for me. I questioned if my realisation was perhaps that I am feeling my age. While I feel my age in fine lines, sore shoulders and my collagen powder, I don’t feel it in this decision. For me, not wanting to get drunk to feel pleasure is a good thing. It means that I can participate in drinking without using it as a crutch. Alcoholism also runs in my family. But, I am committed to breaking generational trauma so I don’t think I would ever become an alcoholic.
I’m also not cutting alcohol out entirely, either. I savour my Whiskey Soda after a long day. Bring me a bottle of champagne, and I will pop that open in a heartbeat! I am now just drinking when I want to drink and not because I can’t cope or because it is the only way to feel pleasure.
Like most of us who drink, I have very fond memories of alcohol and adventures. My 18th birthday (legal Australian drinking age) was a hot mess, it was so much fun. I have been so brave while drunk. New Years in the city have been legendary. I met him on a night out, and I said goodbye with Soju on our lips. Writing this paragraph, I have the biggest grin on my face.
But, of course but, I have negative memories of alcohol too. In the transition from nineteen to my twenties, and before I started seeing my psychologist, I would drink a bottle of wine alone in my room. That path would have been a fast track to alcoholism. I’ve had to be a drunk psychologist to myself and to my friends. Uber’s have seen my dunk tears. Of course, I have considered my life worth and value. How much more can I take?
In the negative instances, I am very lucky to be alive and not be an alcoholic. It is the hardest thing to do to walk away from a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Even as I have progressed with my mental health, I have still used alcohol as a way to feel pleasure and nothing. 2020, though, there was no time to use it. And, if I did, I was trapped inside to nurse myself back to health.
Getting drunk no longer feels like a way to cope, which makes me so happy to say that. I want to drink to relax or enhance the moment. But, I don’t want to drink to get drunk to feel something or nothing.
I am not setting myself a goal or anything like that. If I do get drunk for whatever reason, I’m not going to punish myself. Just, I will be aware of this conscious decision I have made. You will see me boomerang my Whiskey Soda on Instagram. When it’s safer to go out to bars again, there will be group boomerangs of overpriced alcohol. Nothing has changed except the purpose.
And I feel really good about my decision.
I want to finish by saying that I think the biggest motivating factor was my 2021 mantra. Lean into fear. I am not afraid to feel or think or be overwhelmed. Neither am I afraid of the joy and health and abundance coming to me either. By embracing all the feelings, I have eliminated the need to control them. It doesn’t matter what I feel, as long as I feel them and try to understand them, I will be fine. In doing that, alcohol no longer calls to me as a method to cope. I do need to work on being vulnerable, communicating my feelings and not hiding. But those things belong to leaning into fear too. I have no doubt that I will do well.
Cheers to me! And to you!
Tea of the day – Twinings, Earl Grey
Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!
With love and eternal optimism,