I’m an alcoholic. A few months ago at dinner I was fretting over whether or not I should be worried about this, and my renowned psychologist mother reassured me by saying that physical and mental addiction are different. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, you’re just a little physically addicted,” she said with a reassuring smile. Straight from the Ph.D.’s mouth; I proceeded to get happily drunk off of my stepfather’s credit card. That was the last time I worried about my habit.
I am an alcoholic and I love it. I love watching American Beauty by myself with half a bottle of red wine. I love waking up hung over next to whatever guy I’m seeing at the time, eating burritos together, and then grabbing a PBR from the fridge after dinner so we can start the whole thing over again (hopefully this time with sex we’re able to remember). I love inviting random neighbors up to my apartment and having them become completely enthralled with me as I drunkenly lie about outrageous exploits. I love laughing with them the next day when I reveal that all of my tales were completely fictional. I love drinking beers at nice breweries then taking Jell-O shots at dive bars. I like the surprise of getting my film developed from nights when I don’t even remember who was taking the pictures. I love being drunk.
Like any respectable writer, though, I have rules. No drinking while working is number one, of course, which means I don’t touch alcohol until after the sun has gone down. Another rule is that if I puke I have to take a day off drinking. It makes sleeping hard, but hey, everyone’s got to draw the line somewhere.
And lastly…actually there is no “lastly.” I only have two rules.
I’m here not to defend my alcoholism, but to celebrate it. Despite its great tolls on my bank account, I love alcohol and I love its effects on me. “Don’t you wake up feeling guilt and regret from a night of carousing from one house party full of jungle juice to another?” one might ask, but the answer is no. This happened frequently when I first started to drink and would only binge on weekends, but now that I’m a full-fledged alcoholic, I rarely have embarrassing or regretful nights. If anything, I wake up proud of the things that the alcohol gave me the courage to do. “Why couldn’t you try to do those things without the alcohol?” this same snarky asshole might wonder, and the answer is: Why?
A few days ago (a Tuesday) I was at one of the five liquor stores within a one-block radius of my apartment, and the guy working there said, “Wow, more wine? You don’t work tomorrow?” I thought the question was funny more than anything else, but it did make me realize that my unique lifestyle (writing from home every day) has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to be a happy, fulfilled, functioning alcoholic. Booze, far from ruining my life, has been the impetus for many a friendship or relationship. It serves as a motivator for finishing my work, helps me communicate more confidently with friends, makes everyone more interesting (and therefore makes me a nicer person), and often enables some form of late-night revelation or confession. I’m like a happy version of every character in Transparent.
But is this just the peak before the fall? Will I write another piece in a month detailing my “rock bottom” story and my subsequent harrowing trip through jail and then rehab? Will my friends and family abandon me to my one true love: red wine?
No, maybe I have beer goggles on, but I actually don’t foresee it turning out like that. I don’t drink to numb pain, I don’t drink to hide, I don’t drink to be less of myself, and I don’t drink to get laid. I drink because it’s fun and I like how it tastes. Or maybe I drink because fun, interesting things happen to you when you’re drunk. Maybe I’m just that stereotypical writer that craves new experiences and uses alcohol to get it. Or maybe alcohol is just awesome, and we live in a society in which everything is black and white: You’re either a depressed alcoholic or a happy sober person. Even the word “alcoholic” divides the world of drinkers in two: those who do it and are healthy and those who are not.
The real problem with the word “alcoholism” is that it denotes addiction, and addiction is bad, or so our doctors tell us. Well, I’m telling you that if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my quarter-life crisis, it’s that doctors don’t know shit about booze, drugs, sex, or addiction. Sure, there are people who do these things poorly, but the truth is all of them can be awesome and can be sustained for long periods of time with zero negative consequences.
As Rihanna said, “Cheers.”