For me, a huge part of the difficulty in getting my head around the concept of giving up alcohol for good was an idea I had that being teetotal wasn’t very cool. Call me shallow for worrying about such a thing, but understanding who we are in and amongst a sea of different personalities and working out what makes each of us as individuals tick, is the key (in my opinion) to forever sobriety. It is about discovering whatever works, for YOU.
I always defined myself by my hedonism prior to giving up alcohol. Many of my heroes in music and film as I was growing up were drug addicts and alcoholics, struggling with this addiction or that. The music I listened to (and still do) was/is peppered with references to heroin addiction or booze, withdrawals and lyrics which generally denote vast inner turmoil.
My friends were always heavy drinkers and/or drug users, and a massive part of how I perceived myself was this big hedonistic streak which, for all intents and purposes, pretty much defined me for twenty years of my life, good or bad.
When I decided to give up booze, I was filled with dread that I would become… (Wait for it, the dreaded word!) BORING! How would I be able to maintain the persona I had spent so much of my life creating, minus the several-times-a-week alcohol binges?
Well the answer is, I couldn’t, which is no bad thing because if you were to ask many of the people who’ve known me both as a drinker and since I stopped, they would most likely tell you that I was an almighty pain in the arse with the wine in me, and that since knocking it on the head I am not boring, just normal and a lot nicer. There are also, of course, the people who I used to be acquainted with who don’t know me as a non-drinker, their patience running out years ago as a result of my perpetual car-crash lifestyle, inability to know what or who I wanted which more often than not led me to hurting those who were trying to be my friend, and simply because they grew tired of being with someone so caught up with wine that she forgot to think about anything or anyone else.
Unfortunately you can’t go back, and that damage has been done.
With regards to the ‘cool’ element of boozy living and whether being a non-drinker can ever bring about that trait, here’s what I think about it all now; there is nothing cool about being a selfish drunk who walks all over people and only cares where the next glass is coming from. It is a struggle and a battle and damn hard work giving up booze and staying sober, and reaching that place is a million times cooler than giving into an addiction. And finally, I borrowed a tip from my teenage handbook, and found some ‘cool’ people who don’t drink or do drugs or both, and I use them as my role models. My most favourite of these is Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and if you don’t know their music, try listening to Under the Bridge for a bit of motivation and cool inspiration.
It works for me every time I feel a sense of ‘I’m just a boring bugger who doesn’t drink,’ coming on, and even if it’s imaginary, I’m going through it all with Anthony Kiedis, which makes it totally cool in my book.