I recently started consuming alcohol on a regular basis after four or five years of drinking rarely and very moderately. It’s interesting to think about my motivations for drinking and how it affects my social interactions and my emotional state in general.
I started drinking in my late teens, but very responsibly and rarely had more than 2 drinks in a night and rarely on any week night. It was definitely a social thing, and a way to make things work a little smother in my interactions. In my family, alcohol was no big deal. There weren’t huge rules around it, and it was just kind of understood that you are responsible about it. Although there was a history of some not-so-ideal behaviours in my family tree, alcohol never affected my life in a negative way.
During my last semester of first-year university, I found out that studying is a lot easier if you drink a glass of wine. I thought that was a habit I did not want to get into, and so I stopped drinking for all of finals. It was weird. Everyone asked me if I was pregnant. Everyone asked me if I was sure that I didn’t want a drink, just a little one. Everyone was scared that I was going to judge them for their drinking. At first it was hard to hang out with friends or get together with family and not drink with everyone else, but eventually I got used to it and so did everyone else. When my month was up, I just kept on not drinking. It was pretty easy because I saved a TON of money (and calories). I’d drink on special occasions, but only like twice a year.
Later, one of the reasons for not drinking was that I was paranoid about my birth control not working and I didn’t want to drink before I knew I was pregnant. I have since come to better understand my body, as well as the effects of alcohol during pregnancy.
So recently, like this summer, I’ve started drinking wine and beer. Before I only ever drank rum (mixed with anything) or coolers (Pomtinis were my favourite). Now it’s so much easier to drink what everyone else is drinking, and my consumption has picked up. I’ve given up freaking out about drinking during the two weeks I wouldn’t know if I was pregnant or not. Sometimes I drink on week nights, but only one glass of wine. I never, ever drive if I’ve had any alcohol during the day.
I know my increased consumption has a fair amount to do with my emotional state. It’s easier to relax in tense social situations. It’s easier to relax after a long day at work. It’s tasty and it makes life a little better. And though I would have considered this a problem, my priorities are different right now.
All that said, it’s really good to know that I know how to quit if I feel like it’s getting out of hand (like I’m getting dependent, or I’m gaining weight). I know what to drink instead (tonic water! organic pop! water with lime!). I know what to tell people. I know my family won’t be phased because I’ve done it before and they know I won’t judge them about their consumption. Until then, I have a case of Apothic Red in my kitchen, like a grown-up.