Experiments In Sobriety or “This Is When I Admit That I Have A Drinking Problem”

Two nights ago I woke up still-drunk on my couch at 7 AM, wearing my coat and the taste of cigarettes with one ringing thought: What the fuck?

I hate the word alcoholic. It’s weird and sterile, like a strange vestige of a time when mental illness meant state hospitals and probably reality looked like Mad Men with fewer well-tailored suits.

I grew up in bars, literally, but never heard that word, not once. It’s the ultimate taboo of drinking culture. What wasn’t taboo? Pouring a heavy-handed vodka tonic before hopping behind the wheel on the way to anywhere. The plastic 1.75L ghost always lurking underneath the workbench like some northern star of sickness. Feeding your 10 year-old daughter quarters so she could push them into the dusty solitaire game down at the far end of the bar, assuming you were on the way to a bar, which usually you were.

Back to that word. I’m not crazy about it; I’ll be the first to admit that. My therapist claims that I used it a few weeks ago to describe myself, but I called her bluff immediately. She might have been bluffing, but it might have just slipped out. A lot of things feel like slipping. Slipping between one drink and six, slipping through the day without eating a thing. Slipping seven months forward in time before realizing that you didn’t go more than a single day without a drink, usually three.

That kind of routine is a mundane, slow burn fuse, which in a way is the opposite of an explosion. No one notices. You don’t notice. By all accounts, I don’t even seem like a huge partier, or even the biggest drinker I know, but I do know that something’s always felt a little different. It’s like I’ve got an internal switch that flips and not everyone has it, and if you don’t it’s almost impossible to explain. Sometimes it flips between my first and second drink. Sometimes it flips first thing in the morning. The easiest way to explain it is that I’ve always felt like a drinker, a word that resonates with the same truth as the word ‘queer’ or my first name.

No one notices. You don’t notice.

I started drinking younger than most people I know. I grew up enduring the slings and arrows of an abusive home life, but more than trying to escape that, I think it was just about living in the suburbs and wanting to feel something. Being gay was a stone in my throat, but I didn’t even acknowledge that it was there at all ’til I was 17 or so. I started drinking heavily when I was about 15, I think.

Around that time I spent my school nights chatting on AIM with my best friend, doing shots of vodka alone in our little blue glow-lit suburban solipsisms. We spent almost every night like that, and it didn’t ever seem weird or troubling or anything, it just happened. Our parents had better things to worry about I guess, and maybe we did too. Every morning we went to school and made perfect grades and no one noticed anything; we didn’t even notice anything. By 16 we were doing the same thing but stirring a bunch of pills into the mix, which is a very stupid thing that I actively discourage you and anyone you love from doing. My friend’s mom had chronic pain, lost her leg in a car accident in her youth, and our other friend’s mom was a hospice nurse, so it was almost too easy to come by any kind of prescription medication you can imagine. If we had something really strong like oxycontin we’d usually parcel it out carefully, like some kind of fucked up rations, but everything else we just took as we came across it. I remember spending a lot of nights itchy and looking up at my ceiling fan, wondering why nothing felt like anything.

That year, on one of our mundane blurry nights, my best friend overdosed. We were chatting online that night, which is just about the most unpoetic thing ever… it’s hard to even write about it — there’s an extra gloss of surreality that makes it hard to touch. The night he OD’d he didn’t seem more fucked up than usual; we usually started misspelling things as the night blurred on. But this time he didn’t wake up the next day. Ten years later, I don’t even remember how I found out. The next few months felt like gravity collapsing in on me, I’m not even sure it all happened or how it did or why. After he died, I occasionally felt it all in sharp jags, but more often I didn’t feel anything at all… not a single thing for days. Drinking felt different after that too, but it’s hard to say how. Everything shifted, reality suddenly had many, many moving parts.

Two years later, I went to college. I kept most of that story under wraps. I drank like a college student. Stupid shit happened sometimes, just like it would to anyone. I graduated. In 2008 or so, I started going a few months totally sober off and on. Everything was a tumult for a while there, but it didn’t feel like it. My drinking got louder, with more overt self destructive overtures. I was younger then, we all drank like idiots, so I still blended in for the most part. Still, I was in a therapy program, and at some point it was mandated that I attend AA, which I did for a meeting or two — a gay AA group in a neighborhood with nice shade trees and brownstones. I bought the big book and the little book or whatever, but then just started lying about it because it was a hassle and total abstinence of any kind tends to not be a thing that resonates with me.

Things were pretty stable for a while, but then this whole thing — whatever this thing is — came back, in a more insidious way. I became a person who keeps my shit together, but doesn’t always remember a whole lot. If you bring up the details, I’ll go along with it while tamping down the creeping horror of losing entire chunks of an evening — or of a month.

But there’s a subtle difference that comes into focus.

It’s particularly sharp around 3:00 on a workday afternoon. I don’t have coworkers, so every day is a DIY happy hour. And it’s not like I ever wonder if I feel like drinking, I just wonder where I feel like drinking. The part of me that grew up swinging my legs at a bar stool still loves swinging open the door on a new dive and settling in at the bar like I’ve been showing up for years. The part of me writing this right now wonders if I shouldn’t have a drink before I edit it.

It’s like taking the bus, a sort of invisible thing in-between two other places.

I do most of my drinking alone, which makes it not feel like drinking at all. It’s just a thing I do on the way to doing something else. It’s like taking the bus, a sort of invisible thing in-between two other places, and it isn’t very interesting so it’s not really worth talking about. Because if a tree falls in some shithole bar, and no one is around to notice, it’s not much of an anecdote, now is it? It’s a potent facilitator, that feeling of being shimmery and translucent all the time, of not having witnesses. It’s easy to think whatever you want. It’s even easier to let those blind spots blot life out, seep outward like a drop of ink on a cocktail napkin.

None of this feels particularly sad or particularly anything, in retrospect. In fact, I wouldn’t be thinking about it at all excepting a couple of factors. One: This month is the five year anniversary of my dad’s death. He died at 50, a grownup frat boy with a big heart but a quick snarl. Drinking, smoking, and drugs didn’t do him any favors. Two: I decided to quit drinking, at least for long enough to take a step back and see if that’s what I want. So far, it’s been a funny slow motion sort of struggle. It feels like stage combat, or like watching a character in a silent movie try to wrest something out of another person’s arms. No momentum at all, and no volume either. All I know is that I want to stop the slow seep of that ink blot — and I wouldn’t mind having a little company.


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.


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74 Comments

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    Our storys are very similar, I have been sober now for two years. Its a tremendous obstacle that you never quite overcome. Its learning how to live with the disease that makes it easy and realizing that nothing is worth picking up a drink over. I belong to a 12 step program and although I realize AA is not for everyone it has made me a better person.

    “It’s like taking the bus, a sort of invisible thing in-between two other places, and it isn’t very interesting so it’s not really worth talking about. Because if a tree falls in some shithole bar, and no one is around to notice, it’s not much of an anecdote, now is it? It’s a potent facilitator, that feeling of being shimmery and translucent all the time, of not having witnesses. ”

    I can relate to that so well, I was a ghost in my addiction. Just know that you do have company and you are not alone. There are millions of people just like you that are sober and hundreds of millions that need help but don’t realize it. Self awareness is a wonderful gift, you’re headed in the right direction.

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    Would it be selfish to post my own drug addiction story? I don’t want to take anything away from this post/author at all.

    And if I did un-anon, could I get a guarantee that my post will be deleted in, say 6-8hours? It’s not something I want here, or anywhere on the interwebs, forever.

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      I believe that in the comment policy the AS moderators state that they don’t delete comments, even upon request from the commenter, but maybe you want to email them? I feel like this is a slightly different circumstance, and anyway, if you want to talk about things with someone(s), this is a pretty solid community for that.

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        Good point re:comment policy, I’ll chicken out and do it anon, maybe less impact but it gets it off my chest, that’s a start.

        I’m currently trying to kick a long-standing prescription drug (benzos, painkillers, sleeping pills) addiction/habit/love/dependency/idk. I’ve managed to gloss it over, it’s not as bad as it was a year or two ago; I don’t drunk-facebook any more, or lose days at a time and wake up in ambulances.

        “No one notices,” is so true. As far as anyone is aware, I’m a functioning adult with a good job and good friends, no one knows the panic I feel when the mint container I hide my pills in heads towards empty. No one understand the joy, relief, happiness, the pure elation when the new ‘container’ is in my hands.

        And every time, I promise myself it’ll be the last one, that this week will be the week I start stopping. That week hasn’t happened. I told myself it would start today. I lied. At this rate, I’m going through the equivalent of the maximum my doctor will prescribe monthly, every one-two days. Maybe next week.

        t;dr: just coz they’re ‘legal’, dont make them okay. And never ever make life-altering choices whilst on Ambien.

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    I am on my 3rd day of choosing to be a non-alcoholic! Today is probably the worst so far. I woke up depressed that I can’t go out and hang out at a local bar and have a couple of drinks. I was used to drinking at 4:30 pm every day. The alarm in my head would go off and say ” Ding It is Happy Hour! ”
    It is like I am mourning or missing a part of me. I woke up sick to my stomach and I had chills in the middle of the night. I know that the reality is that I can’t go back. My question is how long until this misery lightens up. The physical and mental withdrawals are kicking my butt! When will I get that good feeling that every recovering alcoholic gets?

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      “it is like I am mourning or missing a part of me” — YES. I KNOW EXACTLY HOW THIS FEELS. That goes away too though, if you stick with it, but that’s very normal. It took me a long time (somewhere between six and eight months) to stop mourning my old life. We’re not alcoholics for the fun of it, after all–for me, it was the only thing that made me feel better. Then it stopped making me feel better, but at least it kept me numb, and that was good enough. I missed being able to be numb, and I missed be able to have conversations with complete strangers without having any sort of anxiety about it. I missed all the little things about being drunk.

      The thing is though, you get used to it. Honestly. You get used to not being drunk all the time, you get used to just not drinking. Then you notice how much better your life gets because you’re able to actually, y’know, function and live life without being completely miserable (I have yet to meet an alcoholic who wasn’t totally miserable when they were still drinking). That’s when you really stop missing it.

      Are you going to AA? It will help you. I promise. Even if you just show up to a meeting and listen and talk to a couple people here and there, it will help you. I have friends both inside and outside of AA that I love dearly, but when it comes to talking about being an alcoholic and what it means and how I feel about it, it’s only my friends in AA who can actually relate, because they’ve been there. There’s a lot of comfort in that.

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      I appreciate that I am replying a little late to this, but a safety warning about alcohol (and benzo) withdrawal. Unlike opiate withdrawal, where going cold turkey you feel like you are going to die, going cold turkey from any significant level of alcohol can actually make you die.

      Never try to detox on your own, find yourself a program, or cut yourself down, first alcohol strength, then volume, but get down to where you do not feel any significant physical withdrawal on stopping. Trembling, hallucinations/confusion, excessive sweating, these are warnings of a potential seizure, which can be so very prolonged, potentially fatal due to withdrawal. These typically really kick in at about day 3, but can be earlier.

      make sure you are taking your B vitamins.

      Most importantly good luck

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    Love this post, I don’t drink, but I’m from Ireland so I’ve been around a lot of drinkers, family, friends, society.

    Really nice to see the honesty in this. I hope you find a place where you’re happy with your drinking, whether that be a little or not at all

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    wow, this was incredible. I really really like the way you write. It might be that I’m sleep deprived but I feel like you just turned that feeling you get on a summer day with the lawn mower going into words, or maybe its the feeling of a slight buzz. I wish you luck and strength in your attempts. I hope you figure out what you want and achieve it, you have AS as company, you just have to ask :)

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    I am so, so glad this is being talked about on Autostraddle. Drinking is such a big part of American culture, especially 20-something culture, and especially gay culture, and it’s usually treated (even on this site) far more lightly than it probably should be.

    A member of my immediate family is an alcoholic and there are alcoholics and COAs throughout my extended family. The consequences of this have been pretty miserable and I have a very wary relationship with alcohol as a result. But, I do drink, knowing full well that with my history and personality I might end up crossing that line some day. And every time I read someone’s personal account of alcoholism, especially one like this that falls outside the normalized story of addiction, I reexamine my relationship with drinking. I think that’s pretty powerful, so thank you for sharing your story. Good luck.

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      I’m so glad you brought up the aspect of how prevalent alcohol is in the gay community. I think the fact that we had to live on the fringes of society for so long (and in many places, we still do), the aspect of the watering hole became an important part in our history and community. For many people, going to a gay bar is the first time they can be themselves. And a little liquid courage always helps as well.

      Gay bars are important and definitely have their place in our culture, but I wish there were more places to gather that didn’t revolve around alcohol. I’m doing the Pride Run in Central Park in June, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to find an event for Pride that didn’t involve drinking. I know I’m speaking from a place a privilege that I live in large city with several options on where to take your girlfriend on a Saturday night, but I think we need to acknowledge that we can be out in more places than we could 40 years ago. When gay bars were first around, they were a necessity. And, as I said, they are still an important aspect of social gathering in the gay community. But they can’t be the only way.

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      Took the words out of my mouth. I like to laugh things off. It’s nice and there’s a place for that. But it’s important to not fall into that all the time. I’ve crossed the line before and it’s good when I can start laughing again but sometimes that means I have forgotten what the line looked like which usually means that I’m so far from that line that I’m about to trip over the next line. Care and safety need to be a part of laughter.

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    Thank you so much for sharing. This is beautiful.

    I feel like this is my roommate’s story, but without the decision to step back from it, and I’m not sure what to do. I care about him and I’m worried. I know that he has to make the decision, he has to want to change things, but what is the best way to show him I support him?

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    This is really, really well-written.
    Also terrifying to me because this? “I became a person who keeps my shit together, but doesn’t always remember a whole lot. If you bring up the details, I’ll go along with it while tamping down the creeping horror of losing entire chunks of an evening — or of a month.” Yeah, that’s me too. I’m still in those early years, which you describe so well, so it all feels fine, if blurry. And it’s kind of scary how college/your twenties can cover up some pretty fucked up shit you do to your body, isn’t it? But when you think about the fact that I actually started drinking so many years ago (I was 15/16 too), I’m sort of secretly not that young/early.
    Anyway I didn’t mean to make this about me, so: thank you so much for writing this. I’m going to read it like five more times and then maybe be able to comment something more coherent/intelligent.

  9. Thumb up 0

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    This is beautifully written, and also a little scary because I saw so much of myself in it. Thank you so much for writing this. It might save a life one day.

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    I’ve been sober for five years. I don’t think I’ve heard it put quite so perfectly in a long time. Thank you for sharing that with us. That takes real courage. Good luck. And if you need anything at all, an ear, a place to vent knowing somebody will read it. ANYTHING. Message me. I would love to be of service.

    Thank you again.

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    Honestly thank you for sharing. It’s so weird to say this but, I think you just gave me an insight as to where I could be in 5-10 years. I started drinking at a young age too and for six months I had a parent who fed my habits. I don’t know if I have a dependcy issue but then again I think I have my shit together. I’m starting to realize craving the bottle and constantly getting prescriptions filled at my age is not normal/healthy. Thank you for sharing and maybe I can start looking at myself but then again maybe I’ll continue on, either way Congrats on sobriety!

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    First and foremost @interruptedgirl I would like to say Braviisima! This is a frank,honest but painful story that you have told. There are many replies here to cry about but you have kindly given a space to speak about stuff here that, for some, was not there before. High 5!

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    Shit. You just described so much of my life up until I quit drinking over a year-and-a-half ago. I’ve been dry ever since, but I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    And now I’m weeping in a restaurant.

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    I can not tell you HOW HAPPY I am that this was posted. First off, thank you for sharing your story. Secondly, thank you for sharing it where others who might be experiencing/have the potential to experience the same thing will see it. And thirdly, thank you for being one of the few posts I’ve EVER seen here that does not glorify alcohol.

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    Please don’t take this offensively, but I am terrified of becoming this. I grew up in a totally dry household and didn’t even take a sip before I was 18 and at college but I’ve stolen alcohol and always made sure to keep it on hand since. I don’t even know who I lost my virginity to as I had drank an entire bottle of whiskey on my own that night.

    I ended up being forced to take a semester off for an eating disorder, and since I’ve gotten out I’ve found myself substituting those behaviors for drinking, and living on my own while I wait to move back to school give me ample opportunity.

    I guess I just don’t know where to start? How can I tell my parents their not yet of age daughter has a drinking problem when they still ask me daily about food?

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      Something along the lines of: “I love you, and I know that you love me, so I want to be honest with you and I hope you will support me. Please try not to be angry, because it’s going to make me more scared than I am. And I’m scared I’ve replaced my disordered eating habits with a drinking problem, and I want you to know that I’m (going to be) getting help for it. I’m scared and that’s a good thing, because it means I know that this is a thing that needs to be fixed.”

      + AA/other alcoholism group/individual therapy.

      Either order, whichever works better for you/r situation.
      Good luck, I believe in you.

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    Wonderful. I grew up with (and am temporarily living with) an alcoholic mother.

    Believe me when I say I understand. People who have had their coping mechanisms fucked with at an early age develop a ton of self-soothing tendencies when they’re older.

    It doesn’t define you, you can move forward.

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    Wow . . . I’m in a very busy kitchen right now with a lot of things happening, but I was completely immersed in this piece. Beautifully written. So very easy to translate the way you write about these problems to my own. Thank you!!

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    This is brilliant. I especially like this quote: “It’s like I’ve got an internal switch that flips and not everyone has it, and if you don’t it’s almost impossible to explain.”

    That ‘switch’ you speak of is a good way of explaining what I think many people with an alcohol problem have. While those that don’t have it will never completely understand, I think that you explain it well.

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    Great and tough story, Interrupted girl! I’m actually celebrating 25 years of sobriety today, and decided to do a weekly blog for a year to share my story and talk about how important gratitude has been to my sobriety. Check it out at http://thinkingaboutgratitude.wordpress.com/

    I started drinking and drugging at 13, and quit just before I was 30. Life as a dyke in the 1970s was not easy, so booze and drugs made it all seem easier. My dad is an alcoholic and I think his dad was too. I’m the only one who got sober, and I needed AA to help me do it. There were parts of AA that didn’t fit my feminist perspective, but one thing that was said regularly at AA meetings in my early days of sobriety was “take what you want and leave the rest.” It helped a lot, as did learning to appreciate the simple pleasures in life.

    I hope my blog might help some dykes out there who are trying to get sober and stay sober. I have so very many wonderful experiences that came into my life since I got sober, so I keep working at it and try to remember to be grateful every day.

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    I feel like a lot of these feelings can apply to depression also. The whole “No one notices” thing totally happened to me when I had severe depression. Things just fuzz together and no one wants to notice that you are kind of not all there.

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      I second this. And the losing time part of depression (for me) mirrors what Interrupted Girl said about not remembering days or months. It’s not that I was blacked out, it’s just that nothing caught my interest enough for me to remember it for days or weeks at a time.

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    Thank you for telling your story. I think AS needs this perspective.
    I am still shocked about the way alcohol/drugs is portrayed on this site, like it’s not really a problem. The Weed and Wine post left me totally perplexed, especially since it was suggested as being “relevant to my interests” which made me wonder if queer=drinking? Also if this site has any respect for people who are trying to have a less destructive relation towards alcohol/drugs.

    In Sweden, alcohol is both glorified and recognised as a problem. Since I quit drinking after a bad hangover 5 months ago I realize how limited I am, like I don’t really want to go to any bars or anywhere where drinking is expected. THANKFULLY there is some recognision in the queer community that it’s a problem that people are expected to drink alcohol, and I’ve recently been to queer/pride events that do NOT sell any alcohol, which also made it easier for younger people to join, because there doesn’t have to be an age limit (which made me unexpectedly find my little sister at a club held by a pride event!) Anyway, I want to create spaces that are free from a normative way of expecting everybody to drink, and this being the only way of having fun.

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      Wow, I’m impressed you posted this under your name! I’m too chicken, but I agree with everything here. Like I posted some posts up, nearly every time alcohol is mentioned here its in a oh so cool way. I nearly stopped reading after the weed and wine post, it really sketched me out. Also if you read the A-Camp recaps it sort of makes you wonder if the majority of the staff was consistently drunk…I’m sure/hopeful they weren’t, but the amount of times alcohol/hangovers/getting drunk was mentioned seemed disproportionate…and the opposite of cool.

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        I understand that there are plenty of people who choose not to drink alcohol, and also that some people end up having a problem with/addiction to it (which is obviously a serious matter), but many many people drink on a social basis because they enjoy doing so and experience no problems from it. That is a completely normal thing, which is why it’s treated as such on here.

        I’ve never seen anyone on this site judge anyone for not drinking — they’re even having a sober cabin at camp to ensure people can do that — so maybe you could take care to extend the same courtesy in reverse.

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          I don’t really see how I was judgmental towards people with healthy attitudes towards alcohol. If thinking that Autostraddle, as a whole, does not promote a healthy attitude towards drinking is judgmental, well, sue me, that’s my opinion.

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          And you know what? Your entire response pissed me off. It was basically the most condescending thing ever. Thanks so much for “understanding” that some people are addicts. That’s very big of you.

          “but many many people drink on a social basis because they enjoy doing so and experience no problems from it.”

          I mean, do you really think I don’t fucking know this? Seriously?

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          “so maybe you could take care to extend the same courtesy in reverse.”

          Are you serious? Because that is so condescending. Sorry you have this disease and people in this community frequently joke about it but what you need to do is be more courteous of these people who can’t relate and are joking about it? What?

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        i feel terrible writing this bc i dont want the people that run this site to feel attacked because I LOVE YOU but if AS is about promoting honesty, the honest truth is that i kinda agree. i just have to say that as a person who is trying to live sober and recovering from a eating disorder (both stemming from having a lot of trouble coming out), it can be difficult when your fav queer site seems to talk a lot about drinking and really really thin people eating cheese and peanut butter all day and still being really really thin. its all about context. there are some great posts like this one and others that promote healthy eating/healthy life/recovery but the first person stories are often difficult to read and i dont like that about myself. most of the time when i feel that way, i blame myself for being too sensitive. but hearing my feelings echoed here by other readers i just want to say that sometimes it is hard for me too,guys.

        good luck to anyone out there recovering (esp the author of this post. you write beautifully. keep going.). there are probably far too many of us reading this site that are in some form of recovery. one day at at time right?

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          I don’t understand where you’re coming from about thin people eating cheese and peanut butter. I don’t think contributors should have to answer for their natural body sizes. Unless there is a post specifically addressing what you mentioned? I’m confused.

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      Thanks for bringing this up Aminela. I’m sometimes surprised about how drinking culture is addressed on this site too. From time to time it reminds me of my college days where binge drinking was both normalised and glorified. Whole social events were structured around maximum alcohol consumption. AS isn’t college. Thank god. But there are echoes sometimes.

      I’m a rather enthusiastic drinker. I appreciate a good beverage in good company, or with good food. But I am lucky it has never been a problem for me, and i can/do have regular alcohol free days/weeks/months. So I drank at A Camp too, and at the time i didn’t feel like alcohol was a big deal there. But reading the recaps made me think momentarily ‘what did i miss?’ and ‘maybe i should have drunk more’. That is, until i reminded myself those were stupid things to think.

      I don’t know Aminela… sometimes i want to read about people who managed to put weed into wine, but i’m also aware that we need to change the way we talk about drinking culture. Its a hard one.

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    “The part of me writing this right now wonders if I shouldn’t have a drink before I edit it.”

    Ugh, God. This line, and the line about the switch, really struck a chord in me. The last two or three months before I got sober, I did nearly all of my drinking alone (save for a few parties here and there–on the whole, I was very isolated), and really only wrote when I was drunk. I had a lot of trouble writing when I first got sober, actually, because it always made me want to drink. It was absolutely awful.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    Beautiful piece.
    Most of all, I’m sorry that you feel/are so lonely, Interrupted Girl.
    This is an anonymous post on the Internet… But do you have people around you, in real life, who know you’re trying to quit drinking and are going to support you? If not, I’m sure you can get some support on AS, either in a group or here in the comments. Please don’t hesitate.

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    This was so beautifully written and relevant to my interests! If you wrote a blog, or a book I would read every word. I too decided to quit drinking about 2 weeks ago, and I find myself wondering is this a temporary thing or a forever thing? I can’t imagine not being able to drink whiskey, or have some beers with friends. Thank you for your words!

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    Thank you for this.
    I’m a student at a women’s college. I can attest that alcohol is huge, even in this setting. Not for everyone, but for people like me who are so afraid of being wrong about their sexuality, or just plainly terrified about their sexuality. Drinking allowed me to kiss the people I wanted to kiss, and to acknowledge how much I enjoyed it. Drinking somehow became an important factor in my coming out, even in an encouraging setting. I’m not even explicitly out to my parents, but the closest I’ve come to it was me talking to my mom about “traditional values” while tipsy at a holiday dinner. It just never seems like a good time.
    I stopped drinking every weekend this semester because I got sick. I’d also read a zine, I’m blanking on the name. Although I don’t think I’ve ever been an outright consistant alcoholic, I’ve abused alcohol in a way that scares me. One of the people interviewed in the zine recalled a story of when quitting. After quitting, they tried one beer in a positive setting. They described how the people around them could finish their beer and go home, but the speaker was instantly afraid of losing that feeling. I feel like that when I drink.
    My younger brother is also queer– he identifies as gay and just came out to me recently. He doesn’t drink, in part because alcoholism runs in my family. He’s having a really, really hard time at his college, and recognizes that it would be easier if he did drink. I’m having a hard time giving him good advice, and this is a good reminder.
    Thank you for writing.

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    I read this before I went to work this morning and have been thinking about you throughout the day. I’m really glad to see this issue addressed. It’s also nice to see how many fellow recovering alcoholics/addicts are on this site (I’ve wondered about that, since we’re basically everywhere, but just assumed that either no one had mentioned it or I had missed it if they did).
    September of last year marked three years of sobriety for me, and I’m not sure I could even formulate a sentence, much less write something like this in the very beginning (SO MANY FEELINGS/lack of feelings). Hopefully this post will be something that you can look back on and say “wow, I made it through that!”
    As everyone else has said, if you (or anyone else with a problem/who thinks they might have one) ever needs someone to talk to I’m here!

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    THANK YOU for sharing.

    “It’s just a thing I do on the way to doing something else. It’s like taking the bus, a sort of invisible thing in-between two other places, and it isn’t very interesting so it’s not really worth talking about.”

    I get it.

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    Pleased to see Autostraddle “go there” with substance abuse.Sometimes it seems like you have to forfeit your astinence from substances in order to gain acceptance. I drink but certain types of alcohol mess with my mind in a way I don’t like. It can be awkward to explain the details of my mental health to strangers who are drinking at a queer event.. which is why I wish there would be more queer spaces in the world that didn’t depend on alcohol and weed for their existence.

    To the author: you are so so brave to share this.

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    I’m a member. I logged out before posting this.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story.
    See, I know what an alcoholic looks like. My mother was an alcoholic. She used to forget to pick me up from ballet lessons most weeks. I mean, I used to tell the other dancers she forgot even though I knew she was passed out in her armchair, smelling of bourbon. She was asleep every night by 7 PM. I made supper and did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen and made sure my sister did her homework. I was 9 years old the first time I made dinner for my whole family.
    What I mean to say is, my mother was an alcoholic. I can’t be. I get where I need to go. I do what’s required of me. And right now I can’t afford food most days but I can afford beer, somehow. There are plenty of nights I don’t remember, mornings where I wake up cloudy. I have become an expert at apologizing. “I’m sorry you had to drive me home.” “I’m sorry I passed out on your kitchen floor.” “I’m really sorry I vomited on your laptop.”
    I am 23 years old. When am I too old for my drinking habits? When do I outgrow the norm, the shots, the drinking until I feel like dancing? Because right now, right here, I am functioning. I could stop any time I wanted to.
    I think?

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    I am super shocked by how many recovering addicts/alcoholics there are on this site, I had no idea. And I assume there must be more wo haven’t commented. I stopped reading AS for a long time because of the seemingly never ending shout outs to whiskey and xanax but I always figured I was the only over-sensitive, drug addicted weirdo who was bothered by it. It’s nice to know I’m not. I don’t mean that as criticism of any of the writers here but like someone else said it makes me uneasy how a problem that is so prevalent in this specific community is taken so lightly here, and almost treated as some kind of lifestyle choice or something. The only times I can remember it being addressed seriously are in posts about statistics of how queer people are more likely to not have health insurance and also struggle with addiction, depression, etc. But aside from all that this was a wonderfully written piece, I related to it so much but you said it all so much better than I ever could have. I really hope you get the support you need in whatever you end up doing and that you find a way to be healthy and happy. It is really hard in the beginning but, for me anyway, it has been so worth it.

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    Read this on Jezebel, and I was like — did I black out and write this and send it to Autostraddle? Growing up bored in suburbia, drunk on AOL, gay, in an abusive household, stint of sobriety after finishing college, now hard to remember a night where I haven’t had more than 3 drinks…. Even my dad also died 5 years ago this month. Bizarre. Only difference is that you’re taking the steps to recover. Me, I’m just trying to keep the substance abuse at a minimum.

    Your writing is beautiful, and I’d really love to see more of it. “It’s a potent facilitator, that feeling of being shimmery and translucent all the time, of not having witnesses. It’s easy to think whatever you want.” Chills — I’m there every damn day, but hadn’t found the words. Thank you for helping me recognize how the justification works.

    Best of luck with sobriety. You’re already there, now you just have to stick with the boredom (that’s the toughest part for me, anyway… drinking and drugs kill the boredom, or at least make it tolerable). If it helps, know that there are others out there such as myself that are pulling for you. Keep us updated.

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    I’m at that place where I know I could have a drinking problem really easily, and I’m really just wondering how to stop it from happening to me. I loooove being drunk and alcoholism is in my family… So I’m trying to set out some rules, like, “don’t drink without sharing the booze with somebody,” and “don’t drink enough that you are obviously drunk” (which for me isn’t too restrictive, actually), and “if you find yourself craving a drink too much, specifically avoid drinking that day.”

    And then I start to wonder, if I’m setting out kind of loose rules that normal people follow instinctively, do I already fall under the umbrella of “alcoholic?” I think no matter where you are on the spectrum, there’s always a worse and there’s always a better – so I’m striving toward the better and vaguely hoping.

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    I can soooooo identify with where you’re at Interrupted Girl! I was there, on the edge of that abyss, almost 20 years ago. Fueling my fearful rage with drinking, drugs and dangerous liaisons. I paid dearly, with my body, for that bad behavior until finally I simply lost my mind. Winding up in a mental hospital without a clue as to how I got there or even what my name was. THAT was a lifetime ago my friend. With the help of AA and a lot of soul searching, I’m about to celebrate 19 years of sobriety. Has everyday been ha ha happy? Oh hell no! But my worst day sober will always be better than my best day drunk. Stay strong, be positive, keep sharing your story and ask for help.
    Peace~

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