I don’t usually get so worked up over something that it drives me to write. My posts are thought out for days, weeks, usually following some small, inciting event. And they are pretty neutral. But today I just felt so uneasy about something that I saw on instagram of all fucking places that I had to sit down and get it out. I need to insta-vent.
I follow a person on instagram who I have never met, but who somehow popped up as a suggested friend in the sober community. Recently, she posted a photo of her drinking alcohol which initially took my breath away – I thought for sure this must be some sort of throwback post? But no, it was her, now, in real time.
Portions of the caption included things like “flexibility” and how “labeling yourself an alcoholic .. keeps you trapped.” “I want to choose.” “Choose how it makes me feel.”
My heart sank for this woman, a little anger/fear came up, and then I sat with it and really developed my thoughts on the matter. The anger came from what felt like irresponsibility on her part – so many women have been following her, cheering her on and getting inspiration from her in her year of sobriety. This post felt triggering and reckless. The fear came from self-doubt; how can I feel more free than I ever have in my life while this person on the other side of the world thinks that not being able to drink poison is limiting her (and therefore, me) in some way?
Example: in making myself sit with this feeling and hash out my issues with this complete stranger’s post, I was freeing myself from the female judgement cycle that I have always wrapped myself up in. I am only able to do this because I stopped drinking, the first domino in a very long, intricate system of dominoes with S-turns and Y-formations. I am better able to process emotions, temper reactions/responses, and am mentally fortified enough to manage “the hard times” without alcohol – I am no longer prisoner to my own insecurity and anxiety and self-doubt (well, most of the time).
Here is the best analogy I can come up with for this: if someone were to tell me I could no longer wear handcuffs because I was allergic to the metal, I would not feel “trapped” by my inability to wear handcuffs now – to the contrary, the fucking handcuffs were what kept me trapped. I’d be ecstatic. I wouldn’t worry about labels or being defined – oh, I can no longer be defined as a handcuff-wearer, AKA “prisoner?” WOW BUMMER.
Also, as a sidenote: just because you don’t drink does NOT mean you have to identify as anything, including “alcoholic,” “teetotaler” (my personal fave), “sober,” “recovering,” “alcohol-free” etc. I also acknowledge that we all have our own process, some people are simply alcohol-free but still smoke weed or cigarettes, others take anti-depressants or prescribed anti-anxiety meds or sleeping pills. I am not defining sobriety and certainly not YOURS – but where the danger lies here is in her insistence that being alcohol-free is limiting in some way, thereby glamorizing the personal hell that is “moderation.” There is absolutely no such thing as a healthy amount of alcohol, just as there is no healthy amount of lead paint or cigarette smoke.
My last little point of contention with this post was that she said she wants the freedom to “choose,” specifically “..how it makes me feel.” The thing about alcohol is that we lose all choice when we buy into it – from social media, to advertisements, to being dis-inhibited. And if you’re trying to constantly choose choose choose that sounds alot like control control control to me, which is just another form of entrapment and limitation. You can’t choose how handcuffs make you feel – limited, distressed, ashamed, scared.
Moderation is fucking stupid and just another form of mental entrapment.
Thanks for listening. I might delete this later, but right now I feel pretty good.