Healthy Living Journal

Which step are you on? (Why I Left Drinking Behind)

I was raised around alcohol and my family has a long line of addictive personalities. I am not/was not a party girl. Do I know how to have a good time, fun time, dance on tables and chairs and make a joke out of myself singing karaoke? Yes. I also know that drinking is a thing, especially among my age demographic.

Anyone of my friends I have made these past years could tell you- ‘‘I’ve never met drunk Elle, but sober Elle is sure as hell fun.’’ I can tell you I was never a ‘mean’ or a ‘look at me’ drunk. I was fun, basically myself with an extra kick of Whiskey sometimes.

I have no DUI’s or mug shots to my name. I have called plenty of people for rides because ‘‘just because I was acting dumb, didn’t mean I was dumb” and there are a few times where I got ‘white girl wasted’ and have regrets from this ‘rite of passage.’  

  • In high school at a party this song by Starting Line started playing. I was crawling up the stairs and this dude planted a kiss on me. He had a girlfriend. I didn’t ask for it, I brushed it off to booze and spur of the moment-on his part. I regret never letting the girl know.
  • I attended a concert alone in 2011. I had a few beers and was talking with the bands afterwards, but I knew I needed a ride home so I asked for one in a text to my sister and mom. There was nothing more sobering then having your mother who was dying from cancer pull up to take her youngest child home-drunk. Full on regret.
  • I drank a bottle of Pink Moscato in my shower during the winter of 2013. I was attending an awards night and my ‘date’ who was a worse off drinker than I, ended things and I chalked it up to a fun few months. I regret that last impression.
  • My 22nd birthday I had a piñata filled with dollar shooters- I don’t regret that, it was pretty neat.

I tried to stop drinking when I lost my last parent, started playing roller derby and realized I was the only sibling who still drank. I was able to start off with two sober weeks, than months and a year.

You start to miss certain things giving up a vice like alcohol:

  • Shower wine and beer!
  • Budweiser, Whiskey Sours, Moscow Mules, Old Fashioned, Tequila Rose-Ups, Mountain Bluey Dewys, Lunchbox shots…
  • Not having to remember certain things you said and being able to blame a substance.
  • Certain ‘fun’ people, who needed booze to be ‘fun.’

But being sober has allowed some knowledge:

  • Money. I was never the type of girl who got drinks bought for her, not the type of attention I sought. Looking at my bank account now, I realize how overpriced a fancy cocktail or beer was at certain places/events *cough* Olive Garden.
  • Having been a bartender, it didn’t mean I had to drink, self-control went a long way.
  • Early-mid-late 20’s to 30’s poundage. Drinking normally leads to eating and eating leads to many things. When I stopped drinking for a full year, I lost a lot of weight, granted I did work out; ex-ing the booze made a difference.
  • Relationships. Friends, family, lovers etc. drink. Many folks want to tell you stories about others past party ways. Can people change? Perhaps, but it has to be what they want. It is difficult to give chances to people when life is short and alcohol inherently indeed changes a person. Once you view people through sober eyes and you have to tell them the next day what was said or did in their drunken stupor, it makes you re-evaluate if they can handle being with a sober person more than you being with a drunk. I can tolerate a lot, but I have had to say goodbye to some important relationships in my life due to a lifestyle choice I choose to not associate with after some time.
  • One no longer dry heaves over their bowl of cereal to watch cartoons after friday night.

There are plenty of occasions to ‘raise a glass.’  There are plenty of times you can order a ‘Blue Dolphin’ at your favorite hangout bar and the bartender knows you mean: water on the rocks with an orange slice. Do I think I am better than people who enjoy a nice brew? NO FREAKING WAY! Far from it. This isn’t to downgrade those who choose alcohol to unwind or have a few but I’d hope there comes a time in everyone’s life, however, where they slow down. To find a different vice before drinking becomes a problem you can’t tolerate or brings others down. This is a look into the life of a sober 26-year-old that realized a life of drinking wasn’t for her or her future because it was adding nothing to it. I’ve had a decent few years without it or only on occasion, not always an easy road- but one I will continue to travel with many people or on my own.

I’ve been mocked with sideways eyes when I decline an offered beer ‘‘Oh you don’t drink? So which step are you on? Are you pregnant?” My dear readers, can we simply begin to say ‘’no problem we have (insert nonalcoholic beverage options) if you’d prefer.” I’d take water, but if Ginger Ale, Pepsi, Rootbeer, Sunkist, Icetea or Pink Lemonade is an option, I’d gladly accept those. A person’s choice does not need mocked or made into a conversation into whether they are an alcoholic or not.

I tolerate being around alcohol as much as I can. I have indeed lost friends but met a few good new folks in my life with the same preference. I get to watch my nieces grow up in a sober light and be a type of role model for them that wasn’t around in old photo albums and be a person I can depend and trust.

Are there days I want to drink? Eff yes, however my support system curbs that.  I know the cost of putting a glass lined bottle to my lips, and quite frankly- I know exactly what I’d be losing and I can’t afford that debt.

 sobriety

About the author

Elle Patocka

Elle Patocka is a Czech lady born and raised in South Omaha Nebraska. Her life has taken avenues unforeseen and some well planned in advance- and that has continued to make all the difference. She lives by the notion to be altruistic and live life because ‘’ you never know when your bus is coming.” Her view from home is seen from 5 feet 3 inches, mostly lying down in a hammock, browsing vinyl, skating, mosh-pitting and sweating with strangers at concerts.

Elle recently had two pieces of her writing selected to be published in her College magazine and website The Metropolitan- this has checked her bucket list off of becoming a published writer come true and she hopes to continue to write in any form possible.