14 December 2017

Yes, I am.

   Let's talk a bit today about something I hear a lot of as I wander through life, one beer at a time.
  Am I an alcoholic?
  The short answer is yes, I am most definitely a booze hound, albeit a very functional one who works 50 plus hours a week and knows when and where it is appropriate to drink up. But nonetheless the truth is what it is.
  The long answer is also yes, but much more complicated and involves going back and then forward in my life. My first exposure to alcohol was like most kids with sneaking sips of my dad's beer and finding it skunky, bitter and gross. Mind you, it was probably Labatt's 50 or Molson Canadian and I was a kid who lived for Coca-Cola in my glass, so it was a very typical reaction. Moving to my later teenage years, it became about the most bang for your buck and for me that was hard liquor, the stronger and cheaper, the better. When splurging I would go for Jack Daniels, but to be honest, we would drink anything we could get someone older than us to buy and that meant discount beers, wine or even Baby Duck "champagne". Seriously, we didn't care as long as it got us destroyed and made the party's better.  Well, drunk better, which often involved puking in the sink on a load of clean dishes (Sorry about that) or wandering off into the night at full tilt to drink in the wild like a bunch of hobos if no ones parents were going away for the weekend. It wasn't something we did all the time, mostly because of access and lack of money, but we looked forward to pounding alcohol any time we could in order to look cool or grown up. If 17 year old me could see my beer fridge or liquor cabinet in the house I own now, he'd be pretty damn proud of what we have. He was also sometimes a self centred arsehole who did whatever he wanted most of the time too, so take that with a grain of salt.
I still have no idea what the hell I was doing in this photo

  Experimenting with drugs was never really a big thing for me, I tried a bunch, did not like them and couldn't afford or be bothered to seek them out most of the time. So it was with the Beer Store and occasionally the Liquor store that I found my joy. Even as my paycheques went up, my ability to drink better booze didn't. Buck a beer came to Ontario and that was good enough for me as I hit my prime drinking years. The occasional case of MGD or Stella to feel fancy as the years went on I just kept buying the cheapest beer I could find until I hit the very bottom with a multiple year run of Brava Light. It was the most flavourless beer I have ever had but I could chug 6 of them very quickly and it did the job. It was never about anything but getting hammered, so it did what it was supposed to do.
Fancy beer at Christmas 2014

  As I grew older and acquired the trappings of adult life, the car, house, marriage and the like, beer was always there. Mixed drinks because we wanted to try something new, Polar Bears a particular favourite as the crème de Menthe and crème de Cocoa gave you a peppermint patty kind of taste and the booze got you drunk. Parties almost every weekend, big ones, small ones, celebrations, commiserations, birthdays, pre birthdays and Drunksgiving or any other reason I could invent to get other people to drink with me so I wouldn't feel alone in my stupor. We would pack the yard and house with people and let the libations flow. Good times and bad were had but in the end it always came down to that next beer and the blackout that followed.
Look at all the class in this sink
  This pattern existed for a long time, almost 2 decades before everything changed and I've already documented (many times) how craft beer and social media have altered the course of my life and given me a way to be creative again with writing, videos and photos. But in the truth of my growing and letting go of the ways of my 24 crushing younger self is the fact that I still like to drink a few pints every day. It has become increasingly rare for me to over indulge and I don't like when it happens, so I work hard to keep it in control. But still, I love that first sip, the changing styles I can have and the fun in talking and sharing beer with the world. The parties are done because I can't go back to who I was and people often don't understand the change but mostly because those situations always seem to drive me back to a place where I can't stop. It's a lot quieter but the beer is better and I can wear my sweats.
A much better beer fridge in 2016
  I imagine I got off topic as we went along today but it is the destination I am after and I usually take the long way round. Drinking every day, even a pint or two, shouldn't count as being an alcoholic and I am sure my friends who drink a glass of wine 5 or 6 times a week understand that. The changing nature of what beer is as craft gains market share will hopefully help to switch the perception from party to enjoying and if we treat it as such, that will help matters greatly. But it isn't that I have a pint every day that makes me an alcoholic, it is the fact that I want to have more, a lot more, every time and it is only because I make the conscious decision to not have more that I don't go backwards again. I acknowledge that I have an issue and I actively work to keep myself in check. It is easier now that I don't go out much, crowds make me nervous and I turn to multiple pints to calm my anxiety and I hope as I keep learning about myself I can even get that problem under control.
 I live my life in a quieter way now and try to be a kind person to all I meet. I do indeed enjoy a few pints every night and that one thing brings me joy no matter the day that proceeded it. Excessive drinking is all but a memory and I hope to keep it that way, but I must remain aware at all times what I am drinking and why. I don't drink because I am angry or pissed off with someone or something, that negates the enjoyment and takes me where I don't want to go. So I will admit to my alcoholism and remain comfortable with who I am, life is too short to worry what other people think anyway.
 I need a beer...



1 comment:

  1. I've slacked in reading others stuff lately, but I dig this one! Cheers in fighting the good fight sir, and having a beer or two along the way!