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keysI'm collecting stories. Drinking stories. In the past eighteen months, they've fallen into my lap. And now I'm seeking them, too. What I'm realizing more and more is that drinking touches all of us. Whether or not we are drinkers ourselves, we know people who are. Whether or not we have ever struggled with alcohol, we know people who have. Each and every one of us has a drinking story, whether it's a big one or a small one, whether it's a major theme or a tiny footnote.

This spring, I hosted two wonderful writers here for one of my Happier Hours. These women write a blog, and have published a book, all about these drinking stories we all have within us. Drinking Diaries, they call it. They have asked me to do an interview for their site and I am excited at the opportunity. I have been delaying do it though. I wasn't sure why, but now I realize that it was because I wasn't ready. I am now. And I will do it soon.

I think I have been, and continue to be, fearful of judgment. Alcohol continues to be a taboo subject. I'm not sure why. In this modern day, alcohol is everywhere. Pretty much everyone I know drinks, and drinks regularly, often to excess. It seems stitched into the fabric of our world, drinking. Then again, I might be seeing what I want to see.

The more I talk about this topic, the more stories I stumble upon. I am meeting more and more people who drink very sparingly. People (women mainly) who will go to dinner and savor one glass. People who will maybe have one cocktail a week. These people fascinate me. Alcohol, and wine in particular, has always been something I've loved. Always something I've wanted to lose myself in. My philosophy with this (and other things, some far more positive) has always been: More is better.

But I'm learning. About myself. That's what this is all about. Figuring out who I am. Not who I should be, but who I actually am. It's a really staggering thing to begin to scratch the surface of identity, to strip it all away, and stand back and say, Yup, that's me.

The most wonderful thing I'm experiencing right now is the utter lack of judgment I feel when I think about, and talk about, this topic. I know people who drink far too much or nothing at all. I have friends in AA and friends who binge drink. I have friends who say they know they drink too much, but aren't interested in, or are unable, to stop. I am getting so many emails from people who are worried about themselves and their habits and I read every word and it just strikes me: We all have stuff. We all have a story.

I will continue to write about this and talk about this because I don't think enough people are. Drinking is something that is here and here to stay in our world. It affects body and mind and work and family and relationships. It touches, importantly, on health and happiness. It matters, this thing. And hugely. And it is my deep belief that most of us struggle with it, this thing, however slightly, however indirectly. It is a hovering presence in our immediate or more extended worlds. A shadow. It is there. Here.

I am happy to be where I am. At this point of clarity on what is good for me, on what I need to do. I will go on the record and say that I think it is a bummer that I will not be drinking, but it is a bummer of which I'm already fond. My bummer. I wish that I had an uncomplicated relationship with this nebulous thing, but I don't. And that's that. That's okay.

I had this wonderful conversation yesterday with a new, but already dear friend. Jamie and I talked a bit about drinking, but so much more, and on a park bench not far from here, we concluded that we all have our baggage. My baggage needs luggage, Jamie said. We laughed. Thank goodness for laughter.

Anyway, the point of this meandering post is that I will continue to tell my story and ask you for yours. I think there is an immense, if ineffable power, in telling our stories, in honoring them, and, yes, editing them in ways that might make them better. So, if you have a story, tiny or big, tragic or happy, about you or someone you know, please share it here in the comments or email me at aidandonnelleyrowley[at]gmail[dot]com.

How cool would it be if we actually went there, and had this important conversation? If we talked and listened, just wrote, and just read, and forgot all about judgment?

A pipe dream? Perhaps. But like the bummer, it is mine.

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Why do you think people are unwilling to talk openly and truthfully about drinking? Why do you think it continues to be such a stigmatized subject? Has your life been touched at all by drinking?

Keeping Track

Two Weeks Dry (Again)