I don’t do Drynuary. I do Dry-every-month
I’ve watched so many American movies and series that when I’m stressed out, I catch myself thinking “I need a drink” and reaching for my imaginary crystal flask of whiskey. Then I go have an espresso, because coffee is my drug of choice.
Thing is, I don’t drink alcohol at all. In other words, I’m a teetotaler. Since I’ve spent most of my life in France and Kenya, two countries that have different drinking cultures but both take their booze habits very seriously, I’m used to all sorts of funny and not so funny comebacks when I volunteer this information.
“But what do you do for fun?”
“Not even beer?”
“Oh wow, do you at least have sex?” (Yes, this happened irl. More than once actually.)
“Live a little!”
“I wish I could do that. I spend way too much on drinks.”
“Are you a Muslim?” (Religion being the only conceivable reason not to drink at a party in France, in my experience)
The most common, by far, is a bewildered: “But why?”.
My reasons for abstaining from alcohol have changed over time but I’ve kept to the principle of alcohol-free living because it makes sense to me and I’m happy this way.
Some of it is a genuine, lifelong lack of interest in drinking. I just don’t see the appeal of alcohol, though I have no problem at all with others letting loose that way. I’ve never felt the need to imbibe to be “part of the crew” or to enjoy myself at a party. I’m perfectly capable of having fun on juice, soda and engaging conversations alone!
But there’s also a deeper side to this choice, one that took me a long time to be able to reveal to strangers facing me with the question “But why?”.
This deeper side is a fear of losing control the way I’ve witnessed my father and other members of my extended family fall into a terrible pattern of addiction. Their lives stumbled on the verge of destruction until many of them left this world prematurely. They struggled with mental and physical health, jobs, relationships. Through it all, I watched them suffer, unable to find a way out. This kind of experience has a way of putting you off the bottle for good before you’ve even started.
So even though it makes for awkward party conversation, I still order the soft drinks at the open bar!