When Sean and I were preparing for Jack to come home from his year at the Liahona Academy we were advised to rid our home of alcohol to support his newfound sobriety. At that point in our journey as scared but desperate and hopeful parents of a troubled teen we willingly followed this advice. (At this point if we had been told that sleeping standing upright would help his chances of success I believe we would have.)
In keeping with my overachieving and overzealous personality I claimed that not only would I rid my home of alcohol but that I, myself, would ALSO stop drinking. My close friends and family naturally questioned this mantra as I have been a lifelong social drinker. In fact one year in our holiday letter my husband jokingly said that my biggest dilemma that year was whether I would be drinking red or white wine each night.
However, for these past 22 months I have remained happily sober and I have become intrigued with the role of alcohol in our society. When I heard about Ann Dowsett Johnston’s book “Drink” I knew I had to read it.
Ann has been sober for years and calls herself a “recovering alcoholic”. This book is full of her own personal observations as well as research and deep and thoughtful interviews with many high powered and successful women who share their own personal relationship with drinking. As I read it, I compared some of her key themes with my own and found two things to ring true.
First, our culture is happily absorbed with social drinking. Drinking is a punctuation mark between day and night and “having a glass of wine” at happy hour signals that it is time for the fun to start. I find that I still enjoy happy hour even if it means a diet coke with a lime or a plate of nachos instead of a glass of red or white, but some people are uncomfortable if “happy hour” is mentioned around me as they think I may be offended. Egads, do people still drink? Of course they do! I am totally not offended! Invite me!
Second, as the mother of 2 college kids, it seems that most people assume that college life now equals “binge drinking for all” and it’s considered a normal rite of passage for our college kids to drink away 4 years of their lives. I mean after all, we did it and we turned out alright didn’t we? For Jack, as a troubled teen, drinking is not possible and it is my gravest worry that this attitude may spill over to him and he may think it is possible to drink.
As I approach the 2 year anniversary of my “non-drinking” and Jack’s 2 year anniversary of coming home, I decided to read this book and re-examine my own perspective on drinking. I realized that I don’t miss it. I feel better than ever and I still go out and enjoy myself. For me having fun is more about getting out and being social than anything I am holding in my hand.
In the beginning, I stopped drinking for Jack. Next I thought it was because I didn’t care about it anymore. Now I realize I’m not drinking to show my kids that you can still have a ton of fun and not drink. It’s more about the company you keep and your attitude than about what you’re holding in your hand.
As Jack has tweeted, “Sober is Sexy”. A-MEN!