“Roy G Biv,” I told her, selecting the crayons out of the vast array of options.
“Roy G Biv?! What?!” she asked.
“The colors of the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet,” I rattled off the words, much to her amazement. It’s so easy impressing a 4 year old with your vast knowledge of the world.
I think of that conversation often when I see rainbows. Living in Hawaii, they were a daily occurrence. I love them as much as I love butterflies. I always seem to notice one when I really need it.
I opened the front door and this is what greeted me as long deployment days were looming in the not so distant future. He hadn’t left yet, but the daunting reality of his departure was sinking in as it always does.
It was in-your-face bright. “Look around. Notice me,” it screamed at full volume.
This was also when I was contemplating not drinking anymore.
I was recently asked why I thought I had to stop drinking. I had a hard time coming up with a definitive answer. It was either barrage the asker with a million reasons and thoughts about the subject, or simply say, “When I have one, I can very easily have twenty. I tend toward the ‘all or nothing’ personality type,” and leave it at that.
While the simple answer is accurate, there’s so much more to uncover with this whole process. This thing. This not drinking thing. This watching others not have a problem stopping at one thing. This noticing advertising and drinking culture everywhere thing.
I’ve been reading Holly Glenn Whitaker, Laura McKowen, and Annie Grace among others. I’ve been listening to podcasts, hearing others’ stories around alcohol. Digesting. Processing. Deciding what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s what I know for sure, for me.
- Marketing is so damn effective. I’m kind of mad that I bought into it for so long, honestly. It’s not really funny anymore to me. It’s just kind of, sad. It’s a lie we all think is normal. And clever. And cute. It’s not.
- Before you tell me I’m a killjoy and to just go off and be my sober self, I think it’s important to note a couple things.
- 1. Alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancer. Seriously. How can I be a person who actively seeks out and promotes a healthy life, yet still consumes alcohol? It’s not smart, safe or logical.
- 2. Heavy drinking is on the rise for women. Why do you think that is? We all are very thirsty all of a sudden? No. It’s money, baby. Marketing dollars hard at work promoting this garbage. We are so much more susceptible to marketing than we realize. (I will edit to add; there are also other reasons drinking is on the rise for women. Direct marketing is just a piece of the issue. Over the last 50 years, more and more women earn their own money and are not dependent on a husband’s income. With earned income comes choice. Cultural norms have shifted around drinking. Increased stress in work and home life (for both men and women) was cited as an additional reason.)
- I don’t want to have a life I need to escape from. If life is so busy, so hard, so awful that I have to drink just to numb out, is that really living? Do I want my kids overhearing me say, “GOSH. These kids are driving me to drink!” Like they are so burdensome that I simply must escape. Realizing this hit me hard. I love my kids. Like I really dig them as people. They are funny and creative and loud and wonderfully brilliant humans. Why do I want to escape from that on a regular basis? (Yes, raising kids is a hard job, yes, there are days we need parental time outs – but this is not what I’m talking about here.) I want to remember little things and big things. I don’t want blurred out hazy outlines and shadows cast over my memories of them growing up.
- A bottom doesn’t necessarily mean I have to lose my marriage, my family, my house, live in my car and sleep on a park bench with a bottle in my hand. The image of the drunk who loses everything isn’t everyone. A bottom can simply be someone saying, “Enough.” This is enough of the bargaining, negotiating and justification. Enough of the “Will I drink today?” “Just one” “Today will be my day not to drink” mess of thoughts that ricochet around my brain. It’s enough of monitoring what other people are drinking and at what rate so as not to stand out. It’s enough looking at the clock to see if in fact it is 5 o’clock and rationalizing that I don’t have a problem if I slide that start time to 4:30. It is enough comparing my drinking to someone else’s. “At least it’s not that bad….” It. is. enough.
- Alcohol is ethanol. Why don’t we treat it like any other drug? I’m not advocating a return to prohibition era, but when looked at for the substance that it is, alcohol is a poison. Be aware. Know what it is that you are consuming, just like any other food or drink. Let’s be honest instead of normalizing it. The human body sees alcohol as poison, and actively works to get it out.
That rainbow was the beginning of the end of my drinking career. It was the beginning of the noticing. The seeing with clear eyes, both physically and figuratively. The rain had fallen, but there were hints of some vibrant color in the not-so-distant future. Sometimes the universe whispers.
Other times it sends a huge rainbow to my front door.
Hip Sobriety: http://www.hipsobriety.com
This Naked Mind: https://thisnakedmind.com