I think everyone who knows me, really knows me, knows that I don't drink alcohol. Like not at all. No wine, no fruity mixes, nothing. And it's really fine. I'm old enough now that it doesn't bother me when people ask my what the hell my problem is and come on, it's only one drink and it's super good.
I just always say no and it's fine.
(Confession: I had half a wine cooler at my wedding. I also had two sips of a margarita while in Vegas. Both times it was disgusting.)
When I was younger I will admit it was hard. People couldn't understand it, thought I was being a too-good snob. Then it became kind of a game to see if people could get me to drink without me knowing it. I'd have people order me a soda which obviously had something in it. And that's just offensive. Because while part of me was offended that people thought I needed to get tipsy to have a good time, the other part of me knew I actually had a real reason as to why I didn't drink.
One of my very first memories ever is of a really terrible argument my mom and my biological dad were having. My dad was, and still is, an alcoholic. He was abusive in every way and he was drunk. A lot. You couldn't count on him for anything. For awhile he worked but then he got hurt and it just got worse. My mom would work long hours and we'd go without basic things like utilities, clothes, etc because he would drink it all away. By the time my brother was born it was really terrible. But on this particular night, I remember watching him hurt my mom, yell a lot, and me sitting on the couch as a 3 year old or so with a friend of the family. He held me on his lap because I was scared and I remember stepping on glass that was on the floor. My baby brother was in a different room, seemingly sleeping, and I remember seeing my dad's face.
That was the last night I remember being with him.
As I got older, I saw my dad break promises, not show up when he said he would, try to kidnap us, terrorize my mother, and my mom- bless her heart, always said, "He really was a good guy at one time. But he drinks and it changes a person." I will never forget that. I remember being young knowing that I absolutely never wanted to change like that. That I wouldn't drink and that I would always be in charge of what I say and do. I never saw him again after age 7, that I remember anyways, and I was lucky enough to gain a step dad who was the best ever. He really still is. I am lucky to say both of my parents are really awesome and great. They've always been honest with me about my biological dad, they didn't sugar coat things, but they also never bad mouthed him. It's always been that he was an alcoholic and that's what happens.
So years later, and I'm talking about 6 years ago, my father contacted me out of the blue. At work, no less. It was pretty mortifying considering it was obvious that he was calling me from a bar of all places. But he rambled on and on about how much he loved my brother and I and how our bitch of a mom ruined his life, and just the regular crap you'd hear from a drunk. He mailed me pictures of us as little kids and a letter. the pictures were great because in one of his drinking binges, he managed to set our house on fire and all of our childhood mementos went up with it. So it was nice to see pictures of me and my brother as babies. But in the letter it was literally pages and pages of him ranting like someone who has rotted their brain out. It wasn't coherent, it was just rambling about how I owe him and if I cared about him as my father at all I would help him out.
Never mind he never helped out mom out. Never mind if he cared about us at all he would have gotten us school clothes, came to see us sing in holiday programs, show up sober once in awhile, something.
I packed everything back up and mailed it to him with a short letter saying thanks but no thanks. I said I was sorry that his drinking had caused him to lose family and that he found himself essentially homeless and without anything to his name. I was sorry that he would never get to see how great our mom did raising us and that he would never get to know his grandchildren. There is a consequence to everything but those weren't bad enough to get him to do anything different and I'm not sorry for that. He chose that road.
I haven't heard from him since. And that's OK.
So every time I see people out drinking for a "good time", I shake my head. I'm just glad that I can have a good time without feeling like I have to drink to be social. I know it makes others uncomfortable when I'm not drinking but I'm hanging out with them at a bar. That's not my fault- that's theirs. But while I hear the argument that if I drink in moderation, I'd be OK- I don't believe it. Because can any alcoholic tell you the exact moment they crossed the line from casual drinker to alcoholic? No. And that's not a chance I'm willing to take. Plus, I like knowing I have 100% control over myself. I have never had a drunken one night stand, I have never not remembered what I did the night before, I have never had a hang over, I have never vomited in heels and short skirt outside of a car, etc. And damn proud of all of that because I'm a god damn lady.
But all of this is a lot to explain when I'm out with new people and they ask what I'm drinking and I respond with water or soda. The great thing about age is that it does bring a bit of wisdom and self confidence and I no longer feel weird about it. I no longer feel the social pressure to just give in and have one with the guys. So it's OK. Be OK with it when I'm not drinking. I want to hang out with people, but I don't drink and it's really OK. If you feel weird about it, you should look at yourself and why that it is, because I'm not the problem here.