This post is dedicated to my 27+ years of sobriety.
My abstinence from alcohol never fails to shock people, and nine times out of ten I receive this follow-up question: “But why not?” They almost always assume that I have some grand religious commitment, or that perhaps I’ve been traumatized by an alcohol-related event so severe that I dare not partake in the devil’s nectar. I’m not going to lie. Those are some pretty noble reasons, but they don’t really apply to me.
I will say, there are two significant alcoholics in my life. The first is my former stepfather, who sexually abused me when I was around 7 years old, and the second is my actual father, whom I haven’t had a positive relationship with until very recently. Now while these two examples of what alcohol can do to fuel or handicap the human mind are very convincing arguments for teetotalism, what really turns my stomach is the smell.
I hate the way alcohol smells. I can’t explain it in a way that really makes sense to anyone else, but I’ll tell you the thoughts that ran through my head as a child. I remember sniffing an empty shot glass that my ex-stepfather had placed on the ledge of our mobile home’s fireplace (and before you say anything, YES our mobile home had a fireplace bitch, and it was totally the envy of all the other impoverished residents in our trailer park community).
Right before I inhaled the fumes of the empty glass, I was certain that this magical elixir, which my stepfather seemed to covet more than life itself, would have to smell and taste absolutely amazing. I mean that shit had to taste like liquid candy or something the way it hypnotized him. So with barely a second’s hesitation, I closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath. The stench was horrendous. I remember jerking my head back then slapping the glass back down on the ledge, perplexed. It smelt like dead flies. Of course, I’ve never smelled a dead fly, but that was the only description that ran through my head. Even today, when I smell the sharp and distinct scent of alcohol, that’s what passes through my mind. I don’t know of any other smell to compare it to. I just know that it makes me nauseous.
It has been suggested that my child-brain subconsciously linked the smell of alcohol to my stepfather and the pain that he caused. Because he drank constantly, my revulsion of the smell of alcohol grew alongside the revulsion of my stepfather himself, even if I am unable to see it for myself. It has also been implied that I think of alcohol as smelling of “dead flies” because as a kid I didn’t have another smell to compare it to, but was scared of the idea of death and also hated flies (that isn’t an exaggeration in the slightest, I really did/do hate flies).
While these observations all sound perfectly reasonable, I personally haven’t been able to connect those dots. As for staying alcohol-free for 27 years, it’s not a feat that I care too much to brag about. It’s easy for me to say no because I’ve always said no. I think it’s more admirable for a former enjoyer of alcoholic beverages to practice abstinence- that’s where the real willpower is.
At this time, I don’t know if there is an occasion that would cause me to drink alcohol. I didn’t drink at my wedding, and as happy as I was, I didn’t drink when my divorce was finalized either. I’ve flirted with the idea of drinking for the first time when my future kid(s) decide to try it, providing they have chosen to share this experience with me. The thought of having a “first” experience at the same time as my kid(s) sounds pretty cool to me. I just hope they’re not assholes and are worthy of witnessing the glory that is me accidentally getting shitfaced and becoming completely incapable of providing them any comfort or insight.
Well, it made me laugh.