I’ll never experience the dreaded “hangover in your 30s” I keep hearing about. Am I missing some rite of passage? I keep hearing that a night of drinking in your 30s comes at a hefty price…
Know what else comes with a hefty price tag? The damage done during a night of drinking if you can’t control your alcohol consumption. Or your behavior during said consumption.
It started when I was 18 and began my freshman year at a so-called “party school” in Florida. Sure, I went to class and studied hard and did all the things I was supposed to. But I also joined a sorority, attended countless frat parties, tailgated at football games, and partied my you-know-what off.
I had a fake ID by the time I started my sophomore year, partly because I was dating a 24-year-old and wanted to join him in the bars. I didn’t think anything of it. It embarrasses me to think back on how “everyone else is doing it” influenced most of my decision-making in my teens and early twenties. But that was the reality.
That 24-year-old boyfriend is now my husband and we’ve both been sober for 8 years. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As I got older, drinking became less of a “party” thing and more of a “drinks accompany anything we do” thing. Going out to dinner? Let’s order drinks. Need something to do on a Saturday night? Let’s go hang out at the bar. Going to spend the afternoon at the lake? Better bring the case of beer. Girls’ night? Who’s bringing the wine?
For some people, this is not a big deal. They may have one or two drinks, with the occasional night of “too much”. But for me, that was rarely the case. I was always trying to keep up with my boyfriend, who drank quite a bit. He’s also bigger than me, so my petite self was feeling the effects a lot more than he was.
I think the biggest issue was that I didn’t make the best decisions when I drank. Every emotion intensified for me. I was too flirty with other guys. I would get too angry with my boyfriend. I would ignore my girlfriends. I would drive when I shouldn’t, more times than I care to count.
And I couldn’t see any of that until I was on the other side.
In fact, I didn’t even think I had a problem. Once my boyfriend became my husband and we moved out of that “party school” environment, it became apparent that he had a problem. We weren’t surrounded by fellow partiers anymore. It was just the two of us. But his drinking didn’t subside at all. If anything, it intensified. Mine stayed about the same.
But I fixated on his level of drinking, his behavior while drinking, the money spent to support his drinking… and when I got pregnant, I was terrified at the thought of him parenting while drinking.
I had to give it up for the little one inside me. It was forced on me. But there was nothing making him give it up. Or at least slow it down.
Then, in my eighth month of pregnancy, a miracle happened and he decided to stop. My desperate prayers had been answered. He got some help and got sober just before the baby came. But as he went through all the things that helped him stop drinking, it forced me to reflect on my own behavior from my drinking days.
What I saw in the mirror wasn’t pretty. I recalled the bad behavior, bad decisions, bad consequences. And I realized this was one of the best things that ever happened to me too.
The “death” of Drinking Chrissie was the best “death” I could hope for. It changed my life. It changed my marriage. It changed my family.
It’s not always easy, being the only non-drinkers in the group, which is often the case for my husband and me. But I would never trade it for the alternative.
And I hear more and more younger millennials are choosing the sober life too. What they’re discovering, as I did too, is that there’s so much more to life than getting drunk. (Not to mention all the money you save!)
So cheers, (with your favorite zero-proof beverage), to our rebirth as a sober family. I’ll happily be the DD for anyone, anytime.