Long time, no post. I actually wrote this a whole month and one day ago, but never quite got round to posting it. But, since it’s ‘Edge’ Day, here it is.. the post on being straight edge.
A life of sobriety is not actually something I talk about much and it’s certainly not something I sing from the rooftops. If I’m with people who are drinking and someone asks me why I’m not, I simply say ‘I stopped drinking,’ or ‘I don’t drink.’ I don’t go into the reason why. Am I embarrassed that I don’t drink, smoke or take recreational drugs?.. Not at all. Unlike veganism, this decision was for me, it was something I wanted to change for myself. My last drink was June 17th 2014, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t particularly long ago. In fact, it took me exactly four months of being completely sober before I actually put a ‘label’ on it (on Edge Day ’14 to be exact!). Forward later an exact 2.4 months (to the day) later and here I am, collecting all my thoughts on why I made that decision.
Don’t get me wrong, I did the whole underage drinking thing- I went out to clubs and pubs and I went to parties. In fact, I loved it at the time. What was this new and exciting world? Was I finally growing away from a pretty strict upbringing? Was I slightly rebelling?! I don’t remember much of my first year of uni, most of it was spent going out several times a week. I’d probably vomit on more nights out than not and skipped way too many lectures. I probably spent too much time laughing with friends about what happened, or working out different parts of the night that we’d forgotten. We’d love to document how drunk we were and post pictures online the day after. The drunker.. the better the picture. I’d passed out in the toilet of a club once, did my friends notice? Nope. When I was single, I probably got with people I’d have no intention of ‘getting with’ when sober. I took drugs on the odd night because I thought it was ‘cool’ (oh the irony). I stared smoking weed regularly because an ex did. Eventually his smoking starting to cause issues in the relationship. Everything I did wasn’t me at all, and I began to realise that.
- Feminism: Even though I (thought) I loved going out and loved to drink and the feeling alcohol gave me- I did hate bar culture. I hated guys trying to take me home, I hated how guys would think it was totally acceptable to touch me without my consent, I hated how one guy left marks on my arm because he wouldn’t let me go until I kissed him (I DID NOT), I hated how guys would watch me dancing and talking to my friends. I just hated how uneasy men left me feeling.
- Safety: Thinking back to the countless of times I walked home in the early hours of the morning by myself. I was too drunk to care and too stubborn to get a taxi. I hate that I put myself in potential danger. If I see girls now walking late at night and I just feel complete worry and concern for them
- Veganism: Sure, I wasn’t exploiting other sentinent beings anymore, but could I truely be at peace with myself and live a more caring way of life if I was abusing my body with alcohol/drugs?
- Health: Throwing up from alcohol isn’t fun, thinking it was funny counting the number of times I’d throw up in a night is not cool. I was not kind to my body at all. Not to mention all the fast food I ate after a night out.
- The BIG question: Why was I drinking? Why did I have a need to get ‘drunk’ rather than just have a drink? The simple answer to that was, I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy with myself. I had a huge amount of self doubt, self-hate and low esteem. I liked that alcohol gave me confidence, I liked how different I felt. I could be someone a little different.. someone fun and outgoing. I liked that I could talk to people. The realisation of this made me think twice. There was no way I could keep abusing alchol for things I know needed much more help for.
- Drinking culture: After a few years, I suppose the novelty wore off. It began to annoy me more and more that drinking (or even just going for ‘a’ drink) was always the answer when arranging to meet up with people. Cool, we’re going to the cinema? Oh, we’re going for a drink before that? Why do people feel the need to drink all the time? Why has it become such a social norm? There are so many things we are capable of and so many other things we can do, so why do I find myself sitting in a dark room where I can barely hear the people I’m with, drinking a drink I don’t particularly like the taste off?
- The taste/money: There was actually very few types of alcohol I enjoyed the taste off. Drinking for me, was definitely ‘to get drunk.’ So, why was I wasting my money on something that made me pull a face? Towards the end, I found myself spending my minimum wage money on nights out that I just no longer enjoyed.
- People: Whilst at Uni I met a few vegan straight edge people at house shows and gigs. I was kind of drawn to their way of thinking and outlook on things. Although they never directly influenced me, they certainly opened my eyes up to a whole new scen and way of thinking. Although they had already graduated, it was really refreshing to see that they were edge throughout their uni experience.
I still drank through uni. It still took me just under a whole year later before I stopped. The last 4 or 5 months before I went completely sober, I really cut down on the nights out I had and found myself cancelling or making excuses a lot of times. The fun just wasn’t there anymore. One drink would really be enough for me. I then realised I really didn’t need any form of recreational drug to ‘have fun’ and even that one drink was too much. So, I stopped. I still went to the pub and I still went clubbing, I just did it sober. Yeah, it was a little strange being the only sober one but coming home safe, being alert the whole time and still having fun whilst feeling fresh in the morning was pretty good to me.
From the band Wolf Down: ‘Go with the flow – that’s what we’re taught and like blind sheep we believe what we’re told, heading towards one direction.’ We certainly are told how we should behave and what’s expected of us. Unsuprisingly, that’s not always right. I honestly believe that binge drinking and club culture has become so normalised. For Western women, maybe it is because we’ve got slightly more rights than we ever have. We can go out alone, we ARE more in control of our bodies and what we do. Once people reach the legal drinking age, we are expected to go out drinking, we are expected to spend money on alcohol and be reckless. If we don’t come home drunk, then the night hasn’t been a success. We’re shown alcohol advert after alcohol advert, we see events online for nights out, we get laughs and positive comments from drunken photos, we’re given alcohol for celebrations and birthdays, we’re given drinks menus at restaurants that consist of 85% alcohol and 15% non-alcoholic. Alcohol is contanstly being shown to us as a normal thing. Although they are are health warnings about alcohol, the pressure, and expectation to drink is so so much greater. I don’t think that bar culture should be normalised or joked about. There are so many negatives and so many potential dangers and could put ourselves in, especially for those who identify as female. I want to keep motivated and I want a clear mind, always. Being edge helps that and is way more beneficial than drugs ever were.
Stay safe all