I don’t remember where I first heard the phrase “dry drunk,” but I do know it was at some point in the past two years. It was as I worked on supporting a friend embarking on sobriety. I largely stopped drinking out of solidarity with that friend, but also because I’m not okay when I drink.
I’ve never been a big drinker (to my ruggers in college and campaign coworkers immediately thereafter – shut up), but I’ve certainly not been much of a drinker since early 2007. There have been a couple times I’ve imbibed, but they have been rare and more to numb whatever I’m experiencing than because I enjoy the alcohol (although the few times I had Booker’s Bourbon…those were magical, enjoyable times). Being a dry drunk is the substance abuse equivalent of cutting. As a dry drunk I don’t pursue the steps an alcoholic takes towards healing not just because I, you know, don’t drink, but because by not taking the steps towards healing I’m not healing. Like how when I’m cutting I’m not committing suicide, but that doesn’t mean I’m not self-harming.
I remember at my Grandfather’s ninetieth birthday party my uncle offered me a beer. That made me flinch. Partly because though I’ve been drinking – legally – for ten years I’ve never shared a sip of an alcoholic beverage with my grandparents or my aunts, uncle and cousins. Heck, I’ve barely shared a sip of alcohol with my parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law and they all live in the same city as me. But the thought of standing in my grandparents’ house and having a beer? That was too much for my mind to handle, and more? I’m a little bit scared of alcohol and what it does to me and I was neither ready nor willing to go there around my grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. Last time I remember drinking I did so maybe a quarter of a mile from my house and I did so hard. Because I knew that was likely to happen I walked down to my friends’ place so I wouldn’t be worried about driving back (so I wouldn’t even think of it as an option). The walk TO their house was uneventful. The walk home? Well. I would classify it less as a walk and more as a stumble. That might be one of the last times I remember getting actively drunk. Close to one of the last times I remember drinking anything at all.
I turned a corner at some point in 2007 when I became actively terrified of substances. As I’ve mentioned in other posts it was this terror that had me seeking out my doctor after seeing Magic Mike. Substances, whether drugs or alcohol, could oh so very easily become a crutch for me. A very dangerous, broken crutch.
I’m so proud of my friends who’ve found sobriety. In particular this friend who’s helped me find sobriety. I’ve not actively pursued the steps often found in sobriety programs, but at least I’ve admitted I either do have a problem or could have a problem. I hate the cliché in “the first step is admitting you have a problem,” but there’s a reason clichés become cliché. They are applicable. To everyone. So, yes, not only am I admitting I have a problem and admitting I’m a cliché, but I’d rather be a sober cliché than a drunk cliché.