The last time I was drunk was St. Paddy’s Day, 1986.
And no, I’m not an alcoholic. Or a teetotaler.
I still like my Chardonnay and my Margaritas…
But I used to like to get smashed.
I grew up, I guess. I crossed the line a few too many times in my early twenties, and drunkenness started to feel ugly and sad instead of fun.
That partying lifestyle is a hard one to sustain. Especially when you’re happy. Being hungover feels like crap.
Leaving the bar & restaurant world made it easier to let it go. So did becoming a teacher and a mother. Neither of those roles is very compatible with drunkenness.
Do I miss it?
Sometimes I do. But mostly I’m surprised that it’s still going on. (Without me 🙂
I guess there’s a lot of pain to medicate. At least that’s what I was doing. I drank to wash away feelings of not being enough. I drowned out anger and confusion. I hid from disillusionment.
When I was drinking, all that pain disappeared; and I got to catch my breath. Only the break never lasted; but the mistakes did.
Both my grandmothers and mother were alcoholics, and somehow I didn’t inherit their propensity for that disheartening disease; but I gave it a good effort–with nearly a decade of dedication.
I still got good grades, had goals, and met them; But I missed out on a lot. Like the day after St. Paddy’s Day, 1986, when my sweetheart and I were meant to be in Wyoming. It was a dream of his to see that great state, and it was the first time that the two of us had the opportunity to get out of town together. We were living in Steamboat Springs then, Colorado, working our butts off at the Mountain, and we were thrilled to have 3 days off in a row, together, to finally explore more of the West (before we headed back to the Atlantic.)
Instead, we spent that big adventure in bed, with one of the worst hangovers either of us has ever had. We fought over the last Ibuprofen and shook our heads at the pile of our mud-laden clothes on the floor. Later friends told us that we had been seen wrestling up the hill on our way home from the bar.
We still laugh at that story, and I tell it too much–maybe to point out that there is life after drinking–even though it seems like the most fun in the world when you don’t know what else you’re missing.
Now I define fun differently. Now it’s about creating more of what I want in my life, instead of running from what I’m afraid of.
And when I have pain, I like to “check IN” instead of “check OUT.” Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, I’d rather watch Netflix or check Facebook; but what I’ve learned, again and again, is that there’s gold to be mined in my discomfort if I just show up: Pain is transformed. Memories heal. Disillusionment is replaced with new, vibrant visions. Dreams come true. And I begin to like myself just the way I am. I cut myself a goddamn break; and I don’t even have to be drunk to do it.
Kelly Salasin, March 2012
Note: Lately, I’ve been accused of being “High & Mighty.” If that’s what you’re looking for, read this one about drinking: Drunk for the Holidays; or this: Father Who Used FB to Teach His Daughter A Lesson: A Human Rights Issue.