So. That jerk behind the blog A Clown On Fire just made me do two things I need to be doing less of: think and cry.
Let me explain. He actually did something very sweet (don’t tell him I told you, it’ll ruin his image of himself). I was involved in a conversation on Twitter with his lovely wife, Sara (of Laments and Lullabies), and another dear friend of ours, DeeDee (of Disorderly Chickadee) about. . . well there were many things, but it led up to smoothies and alcohol. I informed them that I was “on the wagon”, as it is put, and Eric immediately chimed in with praise, tweeting, “Good for you, Ruby.”
In about 30 seconds, things got a little muddy in my mind. Because my reason for choosing to never again drink is a good one. It’s a very important one. It’s a mentally healthy one. And it isn’t an easy choice. Actually, it’s really fucking hard. I’m not an alcoholic, I can honestly say that there has only been one time in all of my 32 years that I have used alcohol in any way that crossed the line between “acceptable” and “not”. Ideas, by the way, that are completely individual and as unique as each person who has ever imbibed. Point being, while I didn’t drink often or much, I really loved occasionally to have a few bloody marys, a couple of glasses of champagne, a really yummy cosmo, or my favorite strawberry margaritas.
Except I began to notice something. I have been stable and healthy and happy for eight-and-a-half months now. And in that time, I’ve discovered a few major things that were lost in the confusion of bipolar and its sidekicks. One of the things I discovered is that when I drink, the three or four days following I am very, very. . . There needs to be a word for this, but I can’t find one (and not for lack of a thesaurus). If I hadn’t been where I’ve been, I might say depressed. But it isn’t like that. Certainly it’s a much stronger, different state than sad. Heartsick comes close, but soulsick captures it better. That’s about how I feel. And it’s strong enough, and it affects me enough that I did the math and decided it was a really bad idea for me to drink. At all. Ever again.
I’ve had quite a few conversations with friends and family members about this. And reactions have varied from ‘Oh, I feel that way, too’ — no, you don’t, if you did you would either have stopped drinking or be drunk all the time, trust me on this — to ‘Well, that’s smart. Good for you.’ Only the ‘good for yous’ I have gotten are about on par with what I would get if I told someone I was exercising more. Kind of a ‘That’s nice, it’s healthy, but it isn’t really much of a thing.’
Why is that?
Everyone acts as if me quitting drinking isn’t really very important. As I said, I’ve never had any problems with alcohol, I’ve never even drunk-dialed an ex, therefore my consumption/lack of consumption really only affected one person. So I guess, in the end, I shouldn’t expect any kind of ticker tape parade. Alcohol is such a staple in most people’s lives that it really has to be fucking you up before they are willing to admit that making a decision to rid your own life of it forever is something difficult for you and worth recognition.*
Which is why those three little words, “Good for you”, catching me completely off my guard (and clearly in a vulnerable spot), reduced me to tears.
So thank you for your words of support, Eric. They mean more to me than I ever want anyone to know.
*To be inescapably clear, I am not dismissing, criticizing, or trying to minimize how amazing it is for an alcoholic, or someone abusing alcohol in any way, to make the decision to become sober. I actually don’t have the words to express how incredible and courageous that is.
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