To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)

“Please Drink Responsibly” is the phrase slapped across every product you must be twenty-one years of age to purchase in the United States. Alcohol has been, is, and always will be one of the most controversial matters in history for many reasons. Our grandfathers’ fathers made it hidden in the south eastern mountains to provide for their families in the most lucrative way they could. A tradition has been made out of its’ recipes and stories of bootlegging and prohibition. It’s the one thing that even the United States government couldn’t stop.

As with anything however, where there are pros, there are cons. As with anything, if enjoyed in excess there are many debilitating effects it can cause on your health and the health of others. Poor judgements and decisions are made which can impact many people for the rest of their lives. If you live just below the Bible belt as I do, don’t be surprised if some mega church preacher attempts to release you from the grasp of the Devils’ nectar as he lovingly embraces you while reaching for your wallet and groping every square inch of your wife with his eyes.

The point I am trying to make is that we live in a society that welcomes the use of alcohol like an old family friend. It’s as American as apple pie, baseball, McDonald’s, and this messed up obsession we all have over reality television. So if no one else seems to have a problem, and it all just is a natural part of life, do I really have as big of a problem as I think I do?

If you have followed me or my blog for any amount of time, you may have stumbled across my introduction or several works about alcohol and my battle with the bottle. Today I want to give you a little background about it, as the subject weighs heavily on my mind lately. I have been drinking since I was fourteen years old. It started out as simply as it typically would. Tall bottles of Smirnoff Ice which eventually led my curious tongue to tall cans of malt liquor. I drank A LOT of gut rot, gas station specials as an early teenager such as Steel Reserve 211 and the likes, until I finally calmed down into normal domestic beers.

At around the age of eighteen I began to indulge in liquor. Trying a little bit of anything I could get my hands on, I quickly discovered that vodka and gin were two of my least favorite liquors. As stereotypical as it will sound, I was a bourbon guy through and through just like my father. The smoky taste, the warm burn of eighty proof tingling down your throat, and that decadent smell of oak as it swirled around in my glass could make my mouth water with every sip. I had made it my mission to become a connoisseur of bottom shelf bourbon. Even when I moved out on my own, the only things I had to my name were a few pots and pans, a record player, a futon mattress, and most importantly… a bottle of rye whisky.

It wasn’t until last year in September that a panic attack made me really look at myself and question my life. Once I began my journey for better mental health, I realized I was using the alcohol to self medicate my anxieties and possibly even some of my bipolar tendencies when I look back in retrospect. I made a lot of changes to my lifestyle with help from my wife. I decided to not keep beer in the apartment we share and she agrees because she feels it’s a waste of money. We agree to only drink when we go to restaurants or concerts and I stopped buying liquor all together because if it’s in my reach, I will drink it.

It’s not uncommon for me to become my own worst enemy. I am my worst critic, my worst judge of character, and the last person I ever want to have to confront. Lately if I’m out somewhere and decide to have a beer, I look at myself in shame and feel regret over my decision. I feel as though I’m letting myself down and even you down. Even though I don’t drink for the same reason anymore, enjoying one beer throws so many questions into my mind, it almost makes me wonder if it’s worth it. On the other hand, I’m not drinking for the same reason anymore. I enjoy beer as a craft and a beverage. Taking barley and hops and creating a flavorful masterpiece is a skill I am honestly envious of. There are so many good things about beer that go far beyond alcohol content.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a situation that is different. I am not writing this to sway someone who is struggling with addiction to drink. If you are someone who is on the fence, I encourage you to please take the plunge and reach out to your local alcoholics anonymous program or outpatient rehabilitation center. What I am writing this for is to tell my story and to pose a question to my friends, the readers.

With the habits I continue to follow, I find myself wondering if I really have as big of a problem as I think I do. Am I more in control than I realize? Am I blowing this entirely out of proportion? If no one else seems to have an issue, then what is my problem? I am fine with not buying liquor, but am I wrong if I buy beer from time to time? What are your thoughts, and do you struggle this as well?

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6 Replies to “To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)”

  1. It’s the hard liquor that gets me into trouble. I can have some wine and be fine, but if it’s booze I overindulge. It worries me sometimes, especially since my father was an alcoholic. It’s really hard to gauge how MUCH of a problem it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand. I used to get nice and cozy with a bottle of bourbon. I used to binge on my days off and detox through my work week. I come from a long line myself, so I also know what it means to fear those footsteps. If you would ever like to talk, feel free to reach out! You are not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I had a recent blackout which was unnerving to say the least. Haven’t had one of those since my 20’s. In my defense I only had four drinks, I had no idea how strong martinis are. I was very upset with myself though. I’ve never been that drunk from four drinks.

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      2. Those are never fun! Sometimes the number of drinks doesn’t compare to the proof within the mix. When I used to binge, I would take around four shots within an hour. Before I knew it, half of my brand new bottle was gone and I would dizzily make my way to the couch to pass out for a few hours to sober up. Buzzing was always fun and games, but losing control was never a place I liked to be.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I quit drinking in 97 at the age of 26 after a pretty bad night and waking up with my wife telling me if I didn’t stop she didn’t know if she could be married to me anymore. I quit that day, I never considered myself an alcoholic, wasn’t an everyday drinker, just binged on the weekends mostly. In 2010 we were separated and I went through depression, I drank one night with my brother and the next day I thought it wasn’t so bad. How wrong I was, it was gradual but my drinking became more frequent until I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t drink. Every morning o would wake up hungover and depressed saying I couldn’t do this anymore, then after work regardless of what time it was I was buying my supply for the night. Over and over, I wasn’t in control and I felt like my world was crashing. I was a bad example for my kids but I didn’t know how to stop. I went to an AA meeting but it didn’t sit right with me. By no means am I against AA it’s a great program and I’m glad it helps so many people, just not me. One day I went to the store after depositing a check to get dinner for the kids, some miscalculation led to me not having the money yet so I had to go home to tell the kids we would just have to have leftovers or whatever little I had at the time. My daughter was working and offered to buy dinner for the night using her tip money. Humiliated I agreed so my kids could have a decent dinner. On the way to the store I knew with all my everything that I could not buy even a single beer with this money. I somehow was able to keep my head and not be selfish so I didn’t. That was the first night in I probably a year that I didn’t have a drink. It’s what I had been wanting to do, I was able to use that one night as encouragement, so I tried again and again, each day getting a little easier and after a week I was actually proud of myself. It’s going on 4 years now, I’ve had to slow down hanging out with some of my “drinking buddies” that I would play guitar with, but it’s a small price to pay for having my life back. I still suffer with anxiety and mild depression but it’s amazing the difference it made when I quit drinking. I don’t judge anyone, and by no means am I against alcohol. For me personally I know I can’t go down that route again. Hope my comment wasn’t too long-winded. But feels good to get it out, I do talk about it sometimes as I feel it’s a reminder to never go back.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I really appreciate your story! That’s actually the reason that I wrote this post, as a means to engage with the mental health community about alcohol and their thoughts on it. For some people, the beer aisle in a store is just another aisle but to others it is like a den of temptation. The hardest thing for me was shaking the feeling of necessity it held over my life for such a long time. I am proud of you for fighting and winning for your family in the inner battle, and I thank you so much for sharing your story!

      Liked by 3 people

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