I started drinking as a junior in High School. A group of us found the social lubricating effects of alcohol conducive to establishing our sense of camaraderie. We didn’t really fit into any of the groups at school, so we got drunk and hung out together. It all sounded so much more romantic as a teenager. We drank before school, during school, and after school, discussing our dreams, fears, and hopes for the future. Despite this clearly unhealthy addiction at such a young age, we all somehow managed to get into the colleges of our choice and continued the practice of binge drinking confessionals there.
Throughout college and well into my late twenties I drank a lot, and I drank often. One could view my drinking as healthy twenty-something binge drinking at parties, bars, or clubs, but it could also be viewed as an abusive addiction. I guess I see it as both. I have no regrets for the time I spent with the bottle. I had identified my heroes: Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Miller, Kerouac, the list is endless, and I lived by the saying, “Wisdom through excess.”
Sure I spent some nights in jail, or vomited more often than most people do in a lifetime, but I was finding myself. I was trying to carve out some kind of identity using liquor as my crude knife. In this decade of bleary eyed debauchery, I some how managed to get a BA in Creative Writing, put myself through school, often working 40 hour weeks and taking 22 credits. I applied as was accepted to Peace Corps, I found a wife, got a masters in Education from Columbia, and landed a pretty good job teaching overseas at a private international school, so as you can see the booze didn’t land me in the gutter.
But last year as my wife and I started to try and get pregnant we made a deal that I would quit drinking for at least one year. At first I was terrified. What would I do? I was the guy who would drink a bottle of wine at a party, or suck down seven scotches while talking with friends at a bar. After a ruinous trip with some friends to Vietnam, I knew it was time to re-evaluate my relationship to alcohol. It had served its purpose and it was time to stop. I needed clarity.
So I did. I haven’t had a drink since July of last year. And I don’t ever think about having one. I think this may be a permanent thing for me. I didn’t need twelve steps, or god, or anyone really. I simply knew it was time to stop. And now with my daughter, I can’t even imagine being drunk around here. The idea of being drunk and cuddling her seem diametrically opposed.
While many see the bottle as a way to be free or an easy way to lose their inhibitions, I found the bottle a very enclosed space. Now that I am free, I can’t imagine crawling back into it. It feels great to be out here. So for this week’s Self-Portrait Challenge of an enclosed space, I have chosen the bottle:
The hardest part for me during this process is narrowing my choices down to one shot. I am left with two that I really liked this week. You tell me which one is more powerful.