More than once I’ve bleated on about the importance of my tribe, but it really cannot be over emphasised how valuable it’s been for me to find others who are also sober (or trying/wanting/fighting to be). There’s always a nugget of truth in other people’s stories and sometimes an absolute juggernaut of clarity that hits you in solar plexus like a meteorite. My tribe can be found here in the blogosphere, in FB sobriety groups and other sobriety “clubs”. In a FB group I’m part of someone posted the best thing I’ve seen in quite a while. This particular soberista had been on a tour to a gin distillery and had posted the below photos – I am posting them here with her permission to nick them and a promise not to make any mention of her name plus use my own words. This obviously goes without saying but we’re strictly speaking strangers so sometimes it’s reassuring to underline online etiquette. Us sober folk never out anyone other than ourselves, such is the Law of Sobriety. Besides, in all my blogging years – these past eight+ months on here and the previous decade elsewhere – I’ve never named anyone except myself, always using nicknames plus ensuring I never make anyone identifiable.
Anyway. This lady described this fancy tour in the sexy gin distillery – hey, gin really IS bringing sexy back, isn’t it? Don’t know about where you are, but here in the UK it’s currently THE drink for yoga loving, health conscious women. Oh yeah, fuck wheat grass and quinoa – hard liquor is where it’s at! That’s its current marketing target audience, it seems. Fewer calories than wine (because if we’re thin we’re better, right, so what better way than shaming us into choosing one particular drink over another?) and you should see the vast selection of tonic water you can now get – the mixer is now an entire market in itself, it’s insane! Forget tired old Schweppes – Fever Tree is where it’s all at now, heard of it? You must have! You can barely set foot in a pub here in the UK without its logo raining down on you like confetti in the shape of beer mats, garden furniture umbrellas and napkins. Anyway, it’s HUGE, and gin has made an amazing job of reinventing itself as the drink to be seen with – it helps to have sexy friends and Fever Tree has proved a perfect, sexy wing man. So this tour in the distillery was of course ramming all of that home apparently – it was sexy, cool and sophisticated and the tour guide spoke with reverence about the various stages of distillation and the TLC and expertise going into each part of the process to produce this magnificent, sexy motherfucker of a drink. Gin – the drink for the intelligent, successful and sssssssexy bunch! Yeah!
The finest ingredients, the most refined distilling process, the best qualified people to do it all and everything about it is just top fucking notch. And then they add the key ingredient. This:
Amazingly, according to the lady who posted it, the guide proudly pointed this barrel out too. It wasn’t like my sober tribe friend had sneaked away from the group and found this damning piece of evidence after breaking and entering any “staff only” or “top secret” area closed to the public and then bravely exposed them for using poison that could kill us. Oh no, in full view. Ethanol is the new black, friends! Complete with symbols to illustrate that this is a hazardous, dangerous, poisonous and highly flammable ingredient. Come on, think about it, how many things in your fridge, freezer, cupboards and larder have symbols like this? On stuff you add to things you eat or drink? Would you sprinkle a herb that had a label saying it’s flammable on to stuff you’re cooking? Never mind eat it? Serve something poisonous to your family? Encourage someone to ingest something that’s actually a dangerous substance? I mean in a non-want-to-poison-them kind of way.
She’d worded it so perfectly – it literally is one of those things you could see going viral because it hits the nail on the head so goddamn perfectly – but again, if this ever got shared it’ll be for her to do so herself, not me or anyone else. She kindly let me nick the photos, so that’s what I’ve done and so all I can do is give photo credit to a fellow sober sister. Even without her eloquent, hard hitting words, can you see what I mean though? Can you imagine the tour she was on? And in contrast with this barrel? Perhaps only a sober drunk like me will react like this. Are you one of those magical unicorn moderate drinkers? What do you see when you look at the images? Is it just a case of “well yeah, so what” or does this have a bit of an effect on you too? For me, when I saw this, it just summed up how I feel so perfectly it made my jaw drop – quite literally. I read the post with my mouth open. Awesome!
Do you know what? I realise it’s probably hugely irritating to read this if you are indeed one of the people I know in real life and who therefore would have witnessed how I used to drink. Nothing worse than double standards, is there? And here I am, an alcoholic who put away amounts of wine so staggering it’s a small wonder there’s anything left for you lot to drink at ALL! And now I’m preaching and ranting about how poisonous alcohol is! I get it – it’s enough to throw up in your mouth a little. Or a lot. But there we are. I’m sorry, not sorry – these are the things I’m beginning to see. I do want to show the same kindness, courtesy and respect I have myself been afforded by everyone around me, and therefore want to make it clear that I judge no one. I frequently enjoy going to the pub with hubby and friends and I would never start a righteous sermon or condemn anyone else’s choices. I do understand that some of you are able to handle alcohol in a way that I never could. I also accept that some of you enjoy it. It’s not for me to question any of that, so can I just be clear on that the problem drinking I refer to on this blog is my own! Gosh, I’ve enviously glanced over at you my entire adult life wishing I had an off-switch like you seem to.
Having said all of that, here’s an interesting one… If someone told me they could cure me of alcoholism, wave their magic wand over me or do a medical procedure or give me a pill, leaving me JUST LIKE YOU. Transform me into being wired the way you non-alkies are so that I could skip on over to the pub this afternoon, have a couple of beers with hubby and then go on our merry way without me then necking a couple of bottles of wine back home, instead just enjoy booze the way hubby can… Would I want that? No. Honest to God, hand on my heart, I swear on my son’s life – no. This, though, probably comes back to how I no longer have any reasons to drink because all of those did a runner on me. It doesn’t do anything for me, there’s nothing positive about it. Would I want those positive things I once THOUGHT alcohol gave me if I could have them with no consequences health- or otherwise? I.e. add to the fun, sprinkle glitter on life, make happy happier, etc. Sure! Absolutely I would! And why the hell not? But that was all in my head and in reality wine does none of those things for me, so it’s an irrelevant question.
Anyway. There is part of me that wonders if, in the future, my son will sit there with his grandchildren and tell them about a time when alcohol was legal. And not only legal, socially acceptable as well as encouraged! And his grandchildren staring at him and laughing out loud at old booze adverts glamourising alcohol. Perhaps he’ll say “Mum had a tough time with it, she made a descent into alcoholism, but fought her way out just as the tide was turning and alcohol started to become less acceptable. But you know, kids, when she quit, it was actually still the case that she had to explain why she no longer drank alcohol – can you believe it?!“. I do wonder if my son will be telling that story and whether he and his grandchildren will laugh at those insane adverts like we now look back on cigarette adverts from the 70s that attempt to make smoking sexy. Or even at how crazy it is that the soberista who shared about the gin distillery tour was also shown – by the tour guide!! – the poisonous ingredient without it seeming all that crazy to anyone that poison was added to something we’re going to put into our bodies. I wonder.
Today I’m not going to drink.