Alcohol, My Old Friend…

November 27, 2006 at 1:32 am (Uncategorized)

Those of you who know me know I’ve never been averse to the odd tipple. I have been drinking for a long time. I come from a long line of drinkers. I used to joke that my liver was the result of genetic engineering, because for a long time I had a capacity for alcohol that seemed almost supernatural. My body seemed to welcome it, thrive on it, and for years and years I had virtually none of the side-effects that so slow others down. When I have pushed my body to the absolute extreme, the results have been embarrassing and foul. I have vomited once (NYE 1989, Vancouver, Canada, aged 17), violently, and still don’t drink vodka as a result of that night, where I capped off a thoroughly mortifying evening by wetting the bed. I’ve utterly disgraced myself, in other words. I’ve been aggressive, paranoid, hysterical, and spiteful. I’ve made bad mistakes and been guilty of gross errors of judgement. Since I contracted typhoid on honeymoon in India, I have also experienced recurring discomfort in the region of my liver every time I drink. I daresay that’s because when I do drink, I tend to do so to excess.

And yet STILL none of that has ever succeeded in stopping me. In over twenty years of drinking, I don’t seem to have learnt a single lesson. People think Llew and I drink far more than we do, but that’s because we’re always drinking when we’re socialising with others. At home, we don’t drink at all most nights, week in, week out. But if we introduce other people into the mix, we always seem to drink, and drink a lot. Our reputations are much larger than life, but I can see how people might mistake us for huge and constant drinkers. It’s because sometimes we are. Last week was unexpectedly busy. A spontaneous night with friends meant midweek drinking, which we hardly ever do, and in the end, because of catching up with different friends and going to the wedding, we had four consecutive nights of fairly large drinking.

I feel like absolute shit. My liver is sore, my gut is swollen, my skin is angry, and my brain is slow to action. I had a great weekend, but I doubt I would have had any less fun had I done it alcohol-free. I think about some of the nicest times I’ve had with Llew, friends, family, and colleagues, and they’re very often when there’s been no alcohol involved at all, or very little. I really don’t think I’m better company on the booze. So I’m giving up getting drunk.

That’s right, and you read it here first: I am embracing moderation, and if I can’t, just can’t, develop the maturity to have just two instead of ten, then I will give it away altogether, because this is getting ridiculous. I am a 34 year old woman with a PhD. I need to stop drinking like a frat boy on spring break. So please, friends, those of you who know me as the ever-reliable drinking buddy who never goes on detox and is always the last the leave, believe me when I say I need to move on, I need to outgrow the adolescent, I need to be kinder to a long-suffering body that has always been so tolerant of my worst crimes against it. It’s time for me to slow down and grow up. And if I can’t be moderate – and time will very, very quickly tell – then I must simply abstain. It feels like a big deal to be pledging this, and that’s the whole problem: it shouldn’t be.


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