When my daughter was about 13 or 14 I found a bottle of vodka under her pillow. Clearly she wasn’t all that good at finding hiding spots, but I digress. I dumped the vodka down the drain and put the empty bottle back in her room – a clear sign that trouble was coming and she could sweat it out. I had to think about how to approach this topic with her. There are many parents that allow their child to drink at home- I wasn’t one of them. But I do know that teens drink – I sure did. I didn’t want to make too big a deal, but enough of a deal. But through my alcoholic lens I saw it quite differently than I had in my early years. I could see the destructive potential of alcohol. I could see how detrimental it could be to your life. When we talked about it, to my surprise I started to cry. I said to her “I just want you to learn to have fun without alcohol”.
There are billboard ads up here in Nova Scotia (and likely in lots of places) for Coors Light Beer that say “Climb Over Bored”. When I saw them I was a little angry. What kind of message is this to send to people? If you’re bored get drunk. How many young teens do this already, do we really need to encourage it? I realize that I’m coming from a perspective that might be a little sensitive to this message, but I also know how many teens and young adults feel pressured to become extroverted, bigger than life, to become the life of the party. And if they don’t become that they’re boring. And who wants to hang out with someone who’s boring? Climb right over that!
The first time that I quit drinking a ‘friend’ told me I was no fun when I wasn’t drinking. Never mind all the times that I drove drunk, never mind all the times I put myself in dangerous situations, never mind all the times I wanted to kill myself because of the depression. I wasn’t any fun for her. I went back to drinking that night. It took a lot to finally come to the realization that I needed to quit and to stick with it. It meant losing my so called friends who found me boring then, it meant feeling awkward in my body, it meant not knowing what I liked to do. I hadn’t discovered my likes because all I did was go to bars and drink when I went out. I had to rediscover who I was – but wait – not even rediscover it – I had to discover it for the first time because I drank from 13 years old onward. I was 33 and didn’t no what I wanted in life, didn’t know what my hobbies were. But I sure knew how to party!
After the cobwebs in my brain shook out I was able to learn to dance again (I was a great dancer when I was drunk – or so I thought – but sober it felt so weird). I learned to laugh and to be light and silly sometimes. I learned that I was fun. Without alcohol. I climbed right over bored!