I may just be the slowest learner on the planet. I’ve experienced and known about an activity that saps my strength and energy and bums me out for years now and I continue to do that “thing that I do not want to do” (loose bible reference). That thing is drinking.

I never drank in high school when a lot of people start I guess, mostly because of sports. To be truthful I didn’t have any desire to drink because aside from the impact it could have on my privilege to play I was under age and the fear of getting in trouble was pretty big for me back then. I was a rule-follower. The other thing was, alcohol was never part of our household growing up and my parents didn’t drink or if they did it wasn’t in front of me. No, I came to drinking fairly late.

My first experience was right after graduating high school. Some buddies and I drove to Omaha because one of them wanted to see a girl. What happened was the three of us sat in the girl’s driveway and drank while our fourth went in and “saw” the girl. I liked drinking from the start. Not so much the taste, but the benefits.

For someone who is self-conscious and shy by nature alcohol destroys those tendencies immediately, at least it did for me. I’m no longer worried about how I look, what I say or if I have something to contribute to the conversation. I talk, joke around (I’m often hilarious or think I am. Frequently I kill me!) and actually enjoy being with people. It’s a blast and even though this was my first time and we stayed up all night I wasn’t sick or hung over the next day. Things might have gone differently had I been.

I drank once or twice, before heading off to college. In college my drinking became regular. Friday and Saturday nights were almost a given and probably one night a week found me with a drink in my hand. With all these opportunities I suffered more of the ill effects that drinking had to offer.

As I moved into my mid-twenties, marriage and kids, I began to realize that my drinking although not regular like college was a significant hindrance to fulfilling my responsibilities. I wasn’t a regular drinker but my drinking mode of operation was the same. Once I had one, I thought I needed another. This led to some memorable, although thankfully rare, disastrous circumstances. More than once I came to the conclusion that I just “didn’t have time to drink.” I had too many other things I had to do to be nursing a hangover and feeling awful physically or due to regret.

Into my thirties and forties the amount of times I drank was reduced again. By the strictest definition I was a social drinker. However my motivation to drink was not really just to be a part of the crowd. My motivation was to deal with the crowd. I realize that may be puzzling, heck it puzzled me for a long time but I’ll try to explain. I think the standard connotation associated with a “social drinker” is someone who has one or two drinks in a social setting because that’s the acceptable activity. That’s not why I do it. As an introvert, I need a drink or two or three just to be social. Without them I am the definition of “wallflower” and awkward, self-conscious and lonely only begin to explain my social experience. The drink(s) consumed make me social. It’s an odd twist but consuming alcohol socially allows me to be social and therefore a “social” drinker. The thing is through these twenty or so years I struggled with depression, a lot.

It’s another story for another time but just know I went down some very dark and very deep holes in my thirties and forties. It’s only been recently that I’ve linked drinking to at least some of these times. Because, while drinking makes me feel great while I’m doing it, two to four days later I feel like crap. I’m sapped for energy, have no interest in anything and really just want to crawl into that hole. There’s an old-timey song by Eddie Albert “Make the World Go Away” that plays in my head when I hit those times and I’ve spent countless days curled up in bed “sick” waiting for this extended hangover to pass.

So I’ve decided, once and for all, I’m quitting drinking. The reason is right here on this page. While I realize I may not have as much fun at parties and experience feelings of loneliness in a crowd, that fun, those feelings, aren’t worth sacrificing my writing. I’ve rediscovered the one thing, at least at this time in my life, that I value more than my feelings of awkwardness and not fitting in.

How will I do with this? Frankly, I don’t know. I’ve quit this before and always gone back. Being an outsider is a powerful thing when you want to fit in. Insecurity has always been and will probably always be a big part of my psyche. I fully expect this “quitting” to suck sometimes, but I know I have to get through them. Wish me luck. I’m sure I’ll follow up with this one periodically.

I hope this post helped some of you that read it. I don’t think my experience is unique. Sometimes hearing that someone else has slogged through the same muck can make us feel better. If my story does that, then I’m glad. If you’ve been down the same or similar path and would like to share your story, I invite you to do so below. If you would feel better sending me a personal message my email is oldegiff@gmail.com. I wish you the best.


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