Sunday, February 20, 2005

An explanation of my behaviour

So I actually got to go out last night and pretend I have a life. Me and one of my roomates were going to go bowling with some friends from school. The bowling alley turned out to be packed (you know you're living in a small town when all the kids are bowling on a Saturday night), so we ended up going to a pub instead, and just hanging out and chatting, telling wild stories of our youth.

Now, I don't drink, or do any drugs. I never have. So, when we're sitting around telling stories of what happened while we were drunk or stoned, I don't have much more to contribute than what I've seen my friends do. I'm perfectly fine with that, but there are invariably the questions of why I don't partake in these things, and comments about how sure everyone is that I'd love it if I did.

You'd be surprised at how subtley socially unacceptable it is not to drink. I'm pretty sure people who don't know me well assume I refuse alcohol because I'm a recovering alcoholic. My mother asked me before if I had had some kind of traumatic experience with it and that's why I won't touch it. I think my sister just thinks I'm weird (kidding Jacki, love you!). People have a hard time with the idea that I just don't want to. So, I figured I'd post a bit about why I don't drink, and why I'm happy with that, and why I don't ever intend to be drunk or stoned.

Back in junior high, when all my friends were starting to experiment with alcohol and drugs, I didn't have any moral/philosophical reason for not joining in. I didn't because I was pretty sure mom and dad would kill me if they caught me. I was a very paranoid kid, with a worst-case scenario imagination. I was convinced that if I did get experiment, I would certainly get caught. And I usually figured it wouldn't be by my parents, but by the cops, and I'd get a criminal record and I'd never get a job and my life would be ruined. That was how I thought back then (and still do, sometimes, but I've gotten it a bit more under control).

So I get to high school. I've relaxed a bit now, and realized that getting caught drunk underage/stoned is not the life destroying thing I thought it was in junior high. However, by this point all my friends know that I've made a point not to ever touch the stuff. Through high school and most of university, it was more a point of pride, than anything. I had told everyone up to this point that I just didn't want to do it, and I felt incredibly self conscious that if I went back on that now, I'd look like I gave in to peer pressure, and that would be devastating in my mind. I had the self esteem issues most teenage girls suffer from, and I couldn't bear the thought that I'd look weak, that my principles were so flimsy as to succumb to peer pressure. Honestly, it was sort of a reverse peer pressure.

Then we come to my last 2 years of university up to the present. There were some major changes in my life then, some traumatic, some just life-altering. I spent a lot of that time in deep thought and self-analysis, and more than a bit of it in depression. Something I became very, very aware of during this time were the choices I made. Every little thing I did, I felt the possibilities and the resulting consequences of, and how they could echo through every subsequent thing I did, and every life I touch. I was hyper-aware of what went on around me, and how it was ultimately me that decided how my life went, not all the things I blamed and considered out of my control.

It was at this point that I made a conscious decision about drinking and drugs. Having realized how important my decisions are, I decided that I wanted to be able to look back at my life 10, 25, 50 years from now and be able to say "Maybe I didn't always do the right thing, but every choice I made was my own." I never want to look back and say "That was the alcohol talking" or "I only did that because I was high at the time". I am responsible for my life, and I want to take that seriously. My choices are my own, and the consequences are mine too.

I am not perfect by any means. I have been tempted to just give in. I blame other people for things that are ultimately my fault sometimes. I don't always think before I act, and I make stupid choices. I'm not always aware anymore of the consequences of what I do. That hyper-awareness I had is not usually with me anymore.

I want to make it clear that I do not mean to preach here. My friends, family and my boyfriend all drink occasionally. Some of my friends smoke a joint from time to time. I am ok with this. I don't think anyone is less of a good person for doing so. I have had many a good time and a good laugh with my friends when they've been drinking, and I'm fine with that. Much as I've made a choice, they have made choices too. They are content with the way the do things, and I am happy to accept that the choice that is right for me is not the choice for them. Everyone is different in how they think and live, and that is a beautiful thing that makes life worthwhile. It's just something I know a lot of people close to me, and some not so close, have wondered, and I felt it was time I gave a clear, complete explanation.

And that is why I don't drink or do any drugs.

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