Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolution of Alcohol

I decided to research the history of alcohol...why? (you might ask) Why would I want to spend time reading over something I am abstaining from? As if it is some cruel punishment or test? Well...a wise man once told me that knowledge is power. And after retiring from drinking and seeing the affects it has on our youth, I hope to have some public health impact on drinking based on insight from my own experiences and knowledge. I don't believe that I can be a true advocate and truly make a difference without being aware of the history. Anyways...what I found was that alcohol has been around for as long as history has record of humans cooking, eating, and developing culture (I am talking B.C.). I really wish there was a record of the first drunkard experience and how people reacted to the feeling,etc. But anyways...all of the earlier cultures used alcohol for mainly religious purposes (ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.)...and then it evolved into being a celebratory drink. However, all most cultures welcomed drinking but frowned upon being drunk and considered it a sin (wise...). Then once people were consuming it in mass quantities and being belligerent, came prohibition, and yada yada yada. Ever since prohibition it has been viewed differently...with laws saying you cannot have it until you are 21 years old, it becomes stigmatized to be "wrong"...and it is rebellious to drink it underage. And there lies the problem. Once it becomes wrong and illegal the act of drinking as fast as possible to get rid of the evidence becomes habit...and through that developed binge drinking. Okay let me stop-- Binge drinking is multifaceted...people drink for depression, genetics, poverty, escaping reality, the list goes on and on. But I believe that one notion is the change from drinking as a cultural, ceremonial, celebratory, daily occurrence...to wildly binge drinking because it is wrong and you're a bad ass. There are a number of people I know that do not have issues with binge drinking because they grew up with drinking and were taught how to drink and how to appreciate alcohol throughout their lifetime. I truly believe this is a positive thing and should be reintroduced to parenting. In high school I got alcohol poisoning because I chugged vodka and whiskey...having no idea about either, other than "Say no to Drugs", left me with no guidance as to know when to stop. Maybe this scenario would have been different had I know what vodka and whiskey were and how to drink safely.

I also think that children are taught that alcohol is gross and is an adult taste....as opposed to being taught that different types of alcohol are enjoyable (wine, beers, etc) and can be paired with different food items and enjoyed on different occasions. So..if you are taught that something is gross, you will not be shocked when it is gross, and you will tough through it to get to that goal result. Therefore, if children are taught that alcohol is disgusting, when they chug straight vodka for the first time they will think that the taste is normal and they need to continue drinking like adults do to get "drunk". However, if children are taught the differences between alcohol beverages and how to enjoy them, they will hopefully be turned off by straight vodka. Obviously kids will still get drunk and do what they parents tell them not to do and so forth, BUT I do think that maybe a little knowledge and experience could be beneficial. Throwing a child into adult scenarios (college) and saying "if you are going to drink, only have 3 drinks" is not helpful at all.

I will stop my rambling...but I think the cultural advancement of alcohol in our society is unfortunate. But, any sort of change in the social culture of drinking (much like obesity) is going to take decades to change if ever. If nothing else, maybe we can help our kids to be healthier and make better decisions and not continue with the norm of blacking out every night.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Indefinite Goals

Many have asked me when I was going to drink again...how long this was going to "last"...what my timeline was for this new decision. Any today, while thinking about the concept of anniversaries, I realized that if I had made an end date, this entire experience would have been different. My train of thought would be different...instead of embracing a new decision, I would be waiting for that wonderful date where I could get back to my life. For example, I tried to stop drinking for 30 days. Never in those 30 days did I discover the things about myself and others that I have in the past 10 months...why?..because all I could think about was how many days of non-drinking I had left. Even if I would have made exceptions in my decision, like weddings or birthdays or whatever, then I believe the experience would have been different...I would have awaited a wedding or birthday as an excuse to engage in something that I was trying to stop. Okay...I think my point is that...over the past 10 months I have become confident in my decision, I have accepted it, found positives in it, grew stronger from it, and supported my stance. However, if I made an end date or exceptions then I would clearly not be confident in my decision...it would not be a whole hearted life change...and I believe, that it would leave me angry/anxious/whatever during that time frame that I wasn't "allowed" to drink. I believe that this is one of those issues where there is little gray area. I can not advocate for my personal decision (mind you--a decision for my life only, not anyone else) when I am keeping track of the days till I go back on it. Does that make sense?

So, as I was thinking about this (and self approving my decision to have not made any end dates or goals or objectives or timelines or exceptions) I realized that this idea could apply to most things in life. Take exercising, for example. Many people exercise right before an event (vacation, summer, wedding, reunion, birthday, etc), so I believe that if you tell yourself "Okay I am going to exercise every day for the next four weeks", you will be begrudgingly counting down the days until the four weeks are over and you can end the exercise madness. And so I guess it depends on if this decision is something that really means something to you...but if you wanted to stick with exercising and find enjoyment out of it (even just for those four weeks), I would say not to create a timeline or end date, but instead to take the time to discover what activity you like and whole heartedly embrace that decision and roll with it...let things play out on their own. I guess I don't believe that you can effectively/enjoyably go into a decision/activity knowing and planning on the fact that you are going to stop it at some point. Having an end in sight cannot help for happiness in the present.

So my advice would be..don't make end dates for changes...just explore, alter, modify, start and stop..but do not predetermine the end.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Retired Drinker

Definition of RETIRE
intransitive verb
: to withdraw from action or danger : retreat
: to withdraw from one's position or occupation : conclude one's working or professional career

So I was thinking about the perception of not drinking (which, as you know, I have struggling with and debated on for a while now), and I think I like the label "retired drinker". [Note- the first definition is pretty self explanatory and completely appropriate, so I will not explain that one] As opposed to saying I quit drinking or don't drink anymore. Obviously in an ideal world no one would pass judgments on other people's decisions and I know that in order to embrace individual change and stick with it, I need to be confident in my decision and my actions...BUT, I also need to understand that people do judge and make their own ideas about people, and first impressions do mean a lot. (Note- this is not stemming from anyone judging me, that I am aware of, this is just me over-analyzing what other people think about me)

I think that saying "I quit drinking" gives a sort of negative vibe to my views on drinking...which could be perceived as me having negative views on drinking all together, which I don't...I just don't think its a good idea for me. And I think saying that "I don't drink" could lead someone (who clearly didn't know me haha) to believe that I am opposed to drinking all together and never have drank...and that is not true. I think retired is a lighthearted term...and really more true for my life. I sometimes referred to myself as a professional drinker (I guess to rationalize to myself that blacking out was prestigious and I got hammered just because I was THAT good at taking shots...ohh life...), so you could view my drinking as somewhat of a career/hobby/sport for me. And over the years I've become tired from the game, I have gone as far as I can with the career (milestones include getting arrested, blacking out, getting in car accidents, getting alcohol poisoning...you get the idea..), I've held various positions as a professional drinker (beer drinker, liquor drinker, drunk party girl, sad emotional mess, sick girl, beer buddy, drinking companion, peer pressure-er, etc), and I have trained those around me to be as knowledgeable on drinking and efficient as I was. And in December, I decided it was about that time for me to retire. To hang up my shot glasses and put away the flask, and relax for the remainder of my life. I put in a solid 10 years of work into the sport/career, perfected some areas of it, learned as much as I could about most of it, and completely gave my social life (and well-being) to it. In fact, I think alcohol around the world should thank me for the dedication I put in towards their livelihood, and the passion I conveyed in my execution of the job.

So I hope this puts into better light my views on drinking...and my comfortableness towards the activity and everything about it.


Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Me, What You Get Is What You See

(I believe I may have mentioned this notion before, so forgive me if this is a repeat blogs. But the odds that you have memorized my entries are very slim, so I should be okay haha)

Prior to my change/growth, if you will, I had a very "deal with me" mentality. I embraced who I was as a hardcore drinker, gossiper, emotional, and passive girl. Knowing that a good number of my qualities (most important being the drunk one) bothered a good many people in my life, I continued to stand by my "that is who I am, learn to deal with it" mentality. It seems strong and self assured. It seems like you are being intelligent by only wanting to surround yourself with people who can tolerate you and appreciate you, regardless of what negative/distructive behaviors you engage in. But in reality, all I was doing was rationalizing these behaviors. Knowing that my drinking negatively affected my friends and family forced me to (deep down) know that my behavior was not right. But saying F everyone else, this is me, and I am proud to be me, is a lot easier than trying to change. I think for a long time I forced myself to believe that this drunk girl was who I was, it was all I would be, and it was what I was good at. So protect myself and my pride, I created a tough girl image that was proud to be who I was, and assumed that if people really loved me, they would love me no matter what.

Yet, I changed and I am still me.

My point is that accepting change is okay. Dropping your guard, and allowing yourself to test out a new side of you, is okay. You will not lose yourself, and as long as you are doing it for yourself than you can maintain pride and self assurance throughout the change. I think more than anything, it is a mature way of thinking. At some point you realize (not everyone, but some people) that maybe their way of thinking or behaving isn't exactly correct, and maybe change wouldn't hurt. And I found out that being the real me, is a lot easier and less stressful than being the me that I thought I was and wanted to be for everyone else. I am not saying that everyone should think of something to change about themselves, because a lot of people have got it right already...I am saying, do not be afraid of it.

Sometimes we head down the wrong path and it is okay to turn around and change directions. You are still you. And as long as you carry your pride with all of your decisions, and make your life changes based on your own needs and wants...maybe you can keep the hard ass "deal with me" attitude, but for better reasons.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You are your biggest critic

"You say your dropping 10 lbs preparing for summer, and you don't do it for the man, men never notice, you just do it for yourself, you're the fuckin coldest"- Drake

I love that line because it is so true. You are and always will be your biggest critic. Yes people will notice changes in you, but the small "imperfections" that you notice and critique will most likely never be noticed by anyone else. I realized that over the past 10 plus years I have looked in the mirror with doubt. I have looked in the mirror and thought of all the things I could and should change about myself, and ways that I could improve my appearance. I think that we are trained to use mirrors as ways of viewing imperfections instead of viewing beauty. If you think about it, why do you look in the mirror? To fix things, to fix make-up, to fix hair, to make sure something looks okay, to assess an outfit. Do you ever look in the mirror to admire yourself? I doubt it. To me, mirrors are so you can fix. Therefore each time I look in a mirror I think of something that needs to be fixed. I noticed myself doing this the other day, and thought- what a terrible mind set. What a depressing way to start my day. At the end of the day you are your biggest fan and your biggest critic...and when the world shuts you down, you need to have yourself on your side. So looking in a mirror and picking out imperfections with yourself is not the route to become the most supportive of you. So here is my challenge for you (and myself)...each time you look in the mirror, note three things that you think look good (one is not enough). This can be anything from a standard body feature (eyes, arms, etc) to a changing aspect of your appearance (the way you styled your hair, the way your legs look in the pants). It may seem silly but there is no possible way that this exercise could hurt you, it can only benefit you...so why not try.

If you go out into the world doubting yourself and dwelling on the small things that could be changed, the rest of the world will doubt you too. I may be alone on this, but using the mirror as a tool for admiration is a foreign concept to me but one that I am very interested in learning.

You're beautiful...and don't let yourself tell you otherwise :)