Even before I knew I was pregnant I was strongly considering quitting drinking. I have never had an addiction to alcohol but I do have a history of abusing it as a teen and as an adult found myself either having just 1 or 2 glasses or completely binging and making myself very sick. January was one of those months where I spent an entire week binging and being hungover (and unknowingly 1 month pregnant. It will not affect how the baby develops). I hated how I felt, I hated what I experienced while drunk and I was just tired of it. When I found out I was pregnant it was the perfect opportunity to cut out alcohol. It is my hope that I will not drink after I give birth (I say hope but it is in my control). I want to get away from the binging. I find myself becoming very frustrated with being sober, regardless of the reason, because there is nowhere for me to go or no one that will be there with me sober.
In May, B and I went away for the Victoria Day Long Weekend to a music festival. I had a great time being with him, getting away from the city and our responsibilities and the music was awesome. What I struggled with was finding a place to fit in amongst all the people who drank, smoked and did drugs…it was basically everyone. Every person there was at least doing 2 of the 3 things mentions. Especially with the smoking I would find myself standing or sitting off to the slide to try and avoid as much cigarette smoke as possible. I couldn’t connect with these people because they were intoxicated and/or high and they showed no interest in connecting with me (B and I only knew our friend out of this large group of people). I knew that if I wasn’t pregnant I would have no problem fitting in because I would be drinking with them.
This is also extending into my everyday life as people, even B, do not invite me places because there is drinking. While I guess this is done out of respect for me it furthers my social isolation and brings about a great sadness that I find very consuming. I am doing an amazing thing with my body and people are telling me that there is no space for me.
Where are the sober spaces? Our culture views alcohol very strangely. Many believe that drinking is one of the few ways to have fun and having an addiction to it is seen as a deep personal flaw. We love and hate alcohol and the person depending on how much or how little someone drinks. Our cultural views and experiences of alcohol go above and beyond what I could even express here and I can’t even begin to imagine the experience of people who fight an addiction. In comparison, I have it easy. I’m just very interested in the isolating qualities that not drinking is having on my life right now. I strongly encourage you to check out the following two blogs:
Clementine Morrrigan: Intoxication culture is a bore
geoff: Sobriety as accessibility (https://livingnotexisting.org/essays/sobriety-as-accessibility-interrogating-intoxication-culture/)
Both bloggers are Toronto activists who are simply amazing. Both go by they/them pronouns.
A lack of sober spaces is something I had barely thought about because I was fine with social and binge drinking. When I first heard geoff and Clementine speak at a conference a few years back I began to realize we did live in an intoxication culture that is very inaccessible and traumatizing. Again, I will never experience this reality the way someone with an addiction does and I am affected by the consequences of this culture as a pregnant person, someone who wants to limit my risk of alcohol abuse and as a person who wants to support her sober friends.
There have been great positive consequences to not drinking and I would like to focus on those for the remainder of this blog post.
- I am physically well- not drinking, in general, will keep me healthy. I reduce that damage done to my organs, reduce any damage that may be caused as a result of drunken shenanigans (ie: falling) and I eliminate being hungover which is hard on the body as it tries to restore its natural balance.
- I am mentally well- I was becoming a very angry drunk, starting fights and not enjoying myself. Not drinking allows me to stay in control of my mental well-being.
- I save money- this is a really big deal! The cost of consuming alcohol adds up very quickly. At the music festival, I spent $4 on a bottle of water which I could refill. B spent over $20 on drinks (each beer was overpriced at $12 each).
- I see the consequences of drinking- it was very eye-opening to not be the loud person, the person that causes the trouble and looks a little less than impressive. I enjoyed having control over myself and being present in the moment at the music festival. I don’t think important moments would have happened if I hadn’t of been sober. These moments really needed to happen.
- My risk of abusing alcohol is lower- if I am not drinking then I am protecting myself from falling back into the habits and patterns I worked very hard to change. I do not want to use alcohol to cope with negative feelings or as a way to enjoy myself. I want to cope in healthy ways and I want to be myself.
Do I have a solution for my current isolation due to not drinking? No, not at the moment. I am just doing my best to remember that I do not need alcohol in my life and that my life can still be enjoyable even if others cannot see it.