Alcohol: The Balm of the Working Classes
I was raised in a family of drinkers. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all tossed down a few drinks to loosen up and have a good time. My parents drank pretty much daily. Just one or two to unwind from a stressful day, of course, but daily nonetheless. My mom sent me off to college with a giant bottle of Almaden wine, and happily kept me supplied, though it took me months to finish a single bottle.
Small wonder I married a man who’d been raised much the same. His family turned to the bottle for celebrations, to ward off pain and sadness, pretty much any excuse was a valid one. The only difference between our families was his preferred cheap wine and beer while mine drank the hard stuff with a beer or glass of wine thrown in for variety.
It took me years to realize, as I continued to attract people who drank heavily, why I always felt like an outsider. Perhaps disliking the feel of being out of control contributed to what people probably felt was my standoffish behavior. I’m not entirely sure, but eventually I realized I didn’t like being around drunk people, and for a while, simply retreated.
Finding My Tribe in the Moderate Drinkers
Eventually, I found my way into the Country dancing crowd who, for the most part, drank sparingly if at all while dancing. Even off the dance floor, the people I’m around these days never get sloppy drunk. We may have one more glass of wine, or can of beer than we should, but we’re extremely conscious of the times we have to drive, or the company we’re keeping. The truth is, we don’t need to hide from our lives like that in the first place. The solution to all of our problems is the dancing and the connections we make through our community.
The change in me was gradual, so it took a long time to recognize the changes I was making and the healthier, more connected lifestyle I’d chosen. When I dance, I rarely drink. It’s a combination of needing to have my balance so I can do the turns and crazy two-step moves my partners lead, and having to drive myself home. I may have my fair share of speeding tickets, but I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten a DUI, and the way I live now, I probably never will. I simply do not drink if I have to drive, or if I do, it’s one early in the evening and it’s long out of my system by the time I get behind the wheel.
Drinking to Oblivion Ain’t the Answer
Sure, I wasn’t always this conscientious. I remember more than one trip from UCLA to my parents’ home in Westlake Village after consuming more than enough cheap wine at a party. Clearly, the angels were on my shoulder then. They were there again each time my ex used to get stumbling down drunk then drive us home, oblivious to how he even got us there safely. My daughters, too have tales of him sucking down another beer before driving them home. I think that was the single biggest factor in their refusing to visit him by the time they were 11. They were terrified to get in the car with him, and put an end to it in the only way they knew how.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against a social drink or two at a party or even the bar where I dance. I do take issue with those who don’t know when to stop, or, in some cases, can’t. It’s no fun to dance with someone who’s three sheets to the wind, and even less fun to watch them stumble out to their car and, just by turning the key in the ignition, put strangers at risk.
I also understand that for many like my parents and my ex, alcoholism is a sickness which, like many ailments, needs professional help to cure. The trouble is, many alcoholics don’t think they have a problem, and don’t want to stop drinking—at least until or unless something awful happens. By then, for many it’s too late to fix what’s broken.
The Dark, Empty Side of Alcohol and Substance Abuse
I’ve seen marriages dissolved (mine for one), families estranged (also mine), and friendships lost because someone couldn’t break their dependence on alcohol, or for that matter, some other chemical means of coping with life. Though I haven’t seen it myself, I know people who lost a loved one who simply drank themselves to death. A slow suicide, yes, but in my eyes, a suicide nonetheless.
If I learned nothing else from watching my family and my ex’s, it’s that most things are OK or even good in moderation. Doing just about anything to excess can damage your health or even kill you—even exercise and drinking water.
Grateful for Once to be the Outsider
My family taught me by example that I’m one of the fortunate ones. I don’t need help from drugs or alcohol to cope with my life. I’ve found ways to enjoy it so I don’t need to just cope. Sure, there were steps along the way I thought I did, but as I stop hiding and start showing up, I’m learning my friends are a whole lot better than blurring my edges. Dancing is a much better outlet for my stress and frustration which thankfully show up much less frequently since I left the Corporate jungle.
And I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to sob your guts out and release all the built up crap inside. Tears are water and water washes away the dirt, grit and grime so it’s one of the most healing things we can do. I’ve also learned a phone call, text message, or PM asking “are you OK? Do you need anything?” is one of the most healing balms of all.
Breaking Old Habits
I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about how some of us are here to break old family patterns. Often we’re the ones who never fit in with our own kin. I’m learning how many of those old patterns I’ve come here to break. And I’m doing my damndest to end some of them forever so those who come after me can truly make a difference without the shackles of our restrictive and confining heritage.
Are you the rebel child in your family? If so, did you ever wonder why? Try looking at some of the familial patterns which serve no one; addiction, negativity, depression. The list goes on, and will be different for every family. If you’ve shied away from the “family way”, you’re probably the rebel who will make positive changes. Know there are many of us out here in the same boat who can and will support you in a very difficult and often lonely mission.
Gratitude is One of Our Greatest Tools
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful I was born to be the family rebel; the one who was cast out because she wouldn’t conform to the patterns and beliefs which had long outlived their usefulness.
- I am grateful for the friendships I’m forming with people who don’t share the negative attributes I left behind.
- I am grateful for my cats who are struggling to re-adjust to my changing work habits. I used to work while they were sleeping. Now, they’re awake and wanting attention when I’m just hitting my stride.
- I am grateful I’m learning my schedule doesn’t have to conform with the rest of the world. If my work schedule is from 2PM to midnight, and that’s when my productivity skyrockets, there’s no reason to fight it. TV is boring at night anyway.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, harmony, peace, sobriety, joy, friendship, dancing, compassion, dreaming, writing, inspiration, motivation, visibility, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward