Looking for Language
When people ask me why I don't drink anymore, I sometimes stumble on my words. It's not because I don't have an answer. I do. It's not because I'm uncomfortable. I'm not. It's not because I don't like the question. I love the question! I love any opportunity to talk about this choice I've made. Choice. Wait, is that the right word? It is. Almost.
I struggle with finding the right language around all of this. "Right" is no good, mind you, because it conjures right and wrong, black and white and here we are dealing in a exquisite land of grays. But the language question is important to me because I'm a language girl. I'm a writer. A reader. A storyteller. A conversationalist. A questioner. Words matter to me. A lot.
And I consider myself good with words. So, why I wonder, am I having a language problem with this "topic" (again, insufficient)? Here are some ideas. I'm having trouble because things that are new - or not talked about much - have not been named again and again by us. I am certainly not the first person to choose to give up drinking. No, what I am realizing, particularly since starting @drybeclub on Instagram (feel free to follow here) is that there are MANY wonderful people out there who do not personally identify with Alcoholism or Addiction who are curious about the dry life and/or who have already chosen to live it.
So, we exist.
But until relatively recently - and I actually think social media is a good thing here - there hasn't been as much open dialogue about all of this stuff. So, there's the naming problem. If we don't have a chance to talk about our iterations of choice and progress, then we will have a tough time with the collective naming. But here's the big question: Does it matter? Does it matter that there's no highly-specific language to fit what we are choosing and not choosing, what we are doing and not doing? I would say: no.
My friend Laura wrote an amazing response to a reader letter that asked: Am I an Alcoholic? You can find the whole post here and I recommend you read it because it is powerful stuff. Laura suggests that we are sometimes focused too much, and to our detriment sometimes, on the label of alcoholic, that maybe this fixation with labels gets in the way of choosing what is best for us.
For months now (truly for years), I've been brainstorming a label of my own, one that captures the positivity/gravity of my choice not to imbibe and I have not found one. This is meaningful to me. I say that I'm living #thedrylife because the word Sobriety has never been my word, and this dry life bit is cutesy and fine (even though there is nothing dry about this way of living), but who am I in all of this?
I am a person who chooses not to drink.
It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But that doesn't matter! It's the truth. And until I find better words, words that will perhaps always elude me, this is all I need to say. And if people want to know why, oh goodness will I tell them. Because I'm amassing reasons by the day, reasons which all add up to this: My life is infinitely better without it. And if they ask if it's sometimes hard, I will be honest and say yes! Sometimes, it is! And guess what? All the best, most meaningful things in life are sometimes hard.
I guess if there's a point to this rambling post, it is this: Do not worry about labels. If you are secretly or not-so-secretly questioning your drinking, forget the language piece and just follow your instinct. Experiment. Try a week or month or year without booze (this is what convinced me). Worry more about the doing than the naming.
And let me tell you something, guys. Something cool. Times are changing. More people are curious about all of this than you think. More people are looking at their own stuff and wondering. And if they are not, if they are fine with their habits and patterns, then they are often still curious about those of us who are questioning. There is far less judgment than you think. Or - and this could be the case - I'm seeing what I want to see, painting a rosier picture because this is my choice. Very possible.
Anyway, it's 6:21am on Monday and we have a week to get out there and live. It's still dark out here and my house is still mercifully quiet. My girls no longer wake up on their own on school days, so I will go wake them up soon. They will ask me if they can wear shorts and I will say no and we will gather around this very island for breakfast. We will wake up together and talk and laugh and begin a new day.