Watching old time movies or learning about cultures in the ancient kingdoms we often smile as we observe the celebrations involving wine, mead, ale, delicate liqueurs and "spirits," not to mention the more folksy celebrations stooping happily to the earthy level of moonshine, homemade wine and, well, shots.
The endless hours of hanging over the day after such indulgences are laughed about and are now a major motion picture (make that two). As people who have indulged ourselves once too often we may harken back to days of yore (or last weekend) and chuckle as we think about blacking out under a tree and waking up without our shoes in the bed of someone we don't recognize (wait, that was me at age 19...).
Or we may go through the motions of thinking things like that are wildly inappropriate as we actually become so drunk that we fall into the shower during the course of our own bridal shower, fully clothed and semi-conscious (umm, okay, that was me again...age 27...).
Maybe we laugh with our friends as we talk about headaches, nausea, driving into the wrong driveways or stumbling blindly into our cars to leave parties and doing three point turns and smashing into a manicurist's parked car and destroying the door (sorry...me again... age 36).
The point is, alcohol is so much a part of our notion of what it is to celebrate that by the time we realize celebrating alone with our bottle of wine every night of the week indicates a serious substance dependency issue, we've partied our way into DUI's and failed relationships, bad judgment calls and off the wall behavior, nasty attitudes and alienating friends and family.
I'm a 42-year-old alcoholic with three years sober under my belt and still struggle, on my hardest days, not to sit in my car alone with cigarettes and wine and listen to music. It doesn't seem like it would be such a crime! But for me, and countless others who turned the corner sometime between our first yummy taste of Kahlua with cream and our seventeenth solo bender, it truly is.
Alcohol is so toxic, not only to my liver, gall bladder, bloodstream, head, heart and mind but also literally to my life, that for me to feel I'm somehow a loser because I don't drink anymore is as if someone who just won the lottery felt like a loser because they didn't have to work in a job they hated anymore.
It doesn't make sense.
For all of you struggling to make sense of this sanctioned toxicity and perhaps toying with the idea of becoming alcohol free but worrying about no longer being the life of the party, remember this: alcohol impairs memory. Your friends and family who need to drink at every celebratory event will eventually forget really interesting moments that you, as a sober person, will not; they'll even forget all the "fun" they had in the end.
Aimee Boyle lives in CT. She is a regular contributor to EmpowHER.
Edited by Alison Stanton