I am teetotal. It’s been well over a year since I last had an alcoholic drink.
This wasn’t preceded by anything dramatic. It’s not a big deal to me in any way. I drank like everyone else when I was in university. I realised I was getting ill when I could drink to the point of oblivion without getting drunk at all so I stopped drinking.
I’m also on antidepressants. It’s not my place to say anything about anyone else’s doings but alcohol is a depressant and I feel it would be counterproductive to voluntarily use a depressant while I’m trying to get well. Not a big deal.
I come from a country with a big drinking culture. I now live in another country with a prevalent drinking culture. I know that consumption of alcohol is usually a part of social gatherings. I don’t mind this in the slightest.
What amazes me though is how all common courtesy just goes out the window the moment people find out I don’t drink. Once they find out I’m drinking a pop or a tonic water, the most natural follow up question seems to be to ask why I’m not drinking alcohol.
I don’t think people understand what a personal question it is. Usually they start verbally wandering with a statement like ‘so, is it a health choice or…’ before letting it die down.
Or? Or what? Am I just not feeling it today? Am I saving money? Am I pregnant? What?
This is potentially a really sensitive question. I could be a raging alcoholic for all they know. (In case you’re interested, I’m not.) I’d just like to point out at this moment in time that I have never once asked anyone why they drink alcohol. That’s because it’s none of my business. If someone drinks a lot, nobody asks them why they do so.
Why is it that me drinking a pop does warrant follow-up questions but drinking alcohol doesn’t? If I just lied and said I was drinking a vodka and coke or a G&T, no further questions would be asked. Why is that?
Another side product of this phenomenon is that people start making unsolicited statements about their drinking.
“I don’t usually drink that much but I thought I’d make exception today…”
“I do drink but I do it in moderation.”
“I couldn’t do what you do, I love drinking!”
Jesus Christ, nobody asked. I don’t care!
Also, if you feel like you need to start defending your drinking to a random stranger just because she ordered a coke you might want to think about cutting down. Just saying.
I don’t feel like I’m missing out in any way by not drinking. It may cause me to make some alterations to my schedule if I’m going to be around a lot of drunk people because there’s only so much drunken gibberish you can listen to when you’re sober yourself. This is fine as I need to keep a regular schedule for my medication anyway.
The reason why I’m talking about this is to offer some insight to those who are not teetotal. If you’re in a group of people for example and one person is not drinking, don’t ask about it. It’s none of your business. It’s not that big of a deal. This could be due to something incredibly personal.
Maybe they were assaulted while drunk.
Maybe they have an alcoholic in the family.
Maybe they don’t like how alcohol affects them.
It doesn’t matter why. None of these things are any of your business. Maybe as you get to know each other better they might choose to tell you. IF they choose to do so. Whatever in the world would possess you to expect a complete stranger to reveal something extremely personal about themselves?
You can have perfectly pleasant conversation without doing that. Just clink glasses with them and ask what their top five favourite animals are, which profession would they do if they were magically given the ability or which sound do they love to hear.
It’s not that hard for fucks sake!