The first time I got drunk was on a beer and a half, in my best friend’s basement, while we watched The Notebook. I was sixteen. Giggly and uncoordinated, I attempted to reach for more beer before my friend said “No more for you,” and took it away. I was a little disappointed, but enjoyed the rest of my tipsy night.
Going into highschool, I had decided that I would never do drugs, including alcohol. With one alcoholic parent, I never wanted to chance it. I reveled in my role as the “mom” of my friend group, scolding and trying to teach what was right, though I knew nothing.
In my later high school years, I decided to drink. I let go of the “pure” identity which I created for myself. It was fun drinking with my friends in cozy basements, where no parents would dare come down. We played games and watched movies, but some of us had more fun than others. One of my friends would always end up crying and throwing up at the end of the night. We’d talk to her in circles, clean up her vomit, and do it again the next weekend. No one would talk to her about her problem seriously, or question why this is what she did. I wondered why you would make yourself sick over and over again for a “good time”?
Once I got to college, I began to have poor experiences with alcohol. I learned that when I had too much to drink, I could become easily depressed, extremely nauseous, and have horrible spins that wouldn’t allow me to go to sleep when I wanted to. I’d fall asleep on the bathroom floor, calling my boyfriend crying, saying that I’d never do this again. But of course I did; we all do. I would never get drunk enough to vomit, but always close. I managed to go without doing this for five years, priding myself when I would tell people that I had never gotten sick from alcohol, until this past summer.
I was vacationing with my best friends in San Juan, Puerto Rico (just a month before the hurricane) and it was our last night. Every day we said we would “go out,” but never did. No one really minded this because we were all tired from our adventuring and wanted to go to bed early. But the last night I decided to drink some wine; I didn’t think I would end up drinking the whole bottle. I’m very small, and a lightweight, but hadn’t started to feel the effects of the wine even half a bottle in. So I kept drinking. I have never been so drunk, and even though I was pretending to laugh and have a good time, I was terrified. Eventually I started to feel really sick. I ended up puking four or five times that night, and am so grateful my friends were there to help me.
It was pretty awful waking up the next morning having to get on two planes with nausea and a killer headache. I thought, I’m never drinking again, but this time, I meant it.
When I turned 21, I was excited to be able to go to bars, order drinks at dinner and buy some wine for myself to have at home.When this incident happened, I hadn’t even been 21 for a month. While some people go through that every time they drink, one time was enough for me.
I have been questioned, pressured and judged many times for not drinking. But every time I say no, and every time I am so happy I did. I told my mom that I had unlocked the secret to life, or at least, to my life. I can have fun going out and not drink, and be able to rest easy that night. It feels wonderful.
Last month I put my sobriety to the test when I visited my friend for her 21 birthday. There were five of us, and everyone was drinking except me. I tried to get my friend to drink some water, and she yelled “No, I want to be as f*cked up as I can!”. That is what our drinking culture sounds like to me: being as wasted as you can, not remembering what you did, not being able to control your body.
You do not have to accept that. You do not have to feel uncomfortable if everyone else is drinking, you do not have to give in to what other people want you to do. They are not you. Why make yourself sick over and over again, for a “good time”? You deserve more than that.