Talking About the Thing We Talk About Not Talking About

Stop me if you have heard this one before...

Come home from work, have a beer.

Making dinner, have a couple beers.

Sit down with the intention of playing Call Of Duty and yelling at kids through your head set, have about 4 beers

Do lawn work all afternoon, have about 6 beers. Sitting around a fire with your buddies, bullshitting all night, have about 8 beers.

Now add all those up on a normal Saturday or whatever. That's a lot of goddamn beers. And I'm not saying you all do that, but until recently, that was kind of my normal drinking habits. It has gotten to the point where I realized 10 beers in, and I'm not nearly as drunk as I should be. It has gotten to the point where friends and family have expressed a "hey, you need to calm the fuck down" sentiment to me.

It has gotten to the point where I feel it would irresponsible of me to not write on this topic, and finally talk about it. As the title implies, all of us beer writers at some point have acknowledged that this is a topic worth talking about...and then that's fucking it. The conversation rarely expands beyond the acknowledgment of said issue.

So we're going to get uncomfortable the next few days. No, not blogging from the back of a Volkswagen.



 See that there? That isn't a picture I stole off the Internet. That's a death certificate.

To be more accurate, my father's death certificate.

To really hammer the point home, here is what I want you to take notice of:



Yeah. My piece of shit dad drank himself to death. Now, this isn't going to be a spiel about growing up with an absent father, nor is there going to be any real highlights about having an alcoholic mother either; This is about my relationship with alcohol, be it for better or worse.

Am I an alcoholic? According to the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), I very well might be. According to rehab.com, I should potentially seek help. According to myself, and 99% of you out there, I just really like beer. Isn't that what we all say?

But hey I really DO just really like beer! I love the exploration of flavors. I love the immersion in the history of it. I don't need to drink, right? I mean, today was a tough day at work, I deserve a drink. And that drink deserves another. Hey, this one has been chilling in my fridge for a while, been wanting to drink that one, whats one more? Hmm, I'm still relatively sober, I kind of would like to catch a buzz, maybe one more will do the trick? No? Well how about one more, and then I'll head to bed. Perfect.

And that's how it goes. It's a seamless train of thought that I chase down the tunnels till I reach the altered state of mind that I want to achieve. It's certainly not every day, but it's definitely more often than is probably healthy.

Look, I'm not about to sit here and say you're all alcoholics. SO if you're already planning on making some stupid comment along the lines of "SPEAK FOR YOURSELF!" I don't even want to fucking hear it. Keep it to yourself. I'm not going to sit here and say I am an alcoholic. But you know whats a scary thought? I could be. Very easily, actually.

I do not shy away from the fact that I love being drunk. It's so much fun. Hanging outside on my patio, buzzed and listening to Wu-Tang. Sitting on my couch, screaming at 12 year old kids on XBox live is only made better when I'm 5 beers deep.

If I'm going to be honest, there is more negativity that has been influenced with my love of beer than I ever care to reflect on. Looking back on my past friendships, I can easily see that the common denominator is alcohol. Take inebriation out of the equation, and that friendship is strained, and the time spent together is awkward. It is never as fulfilling as it is when you're both already a few beers deep. Looking back at past romantic relationships more often than not, I can pinpoint when things started to go down hill after decisions I made while heavily intoxicated. As many of you know, I am 31 years old as I write this, and already once divorced. I don't even want to delve into the possibilities of what alcohol may or may not have contributed to that.

I mean, yes, in the game of life, I am fucking winning. I am very happily married now to a woman I love beyond words. But even now I still put my relationship in jeopardy more often than I care to admit. And what, you may ask is the cause of that? Alcohol.

It's this weird double edged sword. Some of my best memories have some amount of alcohol involved. In the same breath, some of the worst, most scariest moments, are also fueled by alcohol. I have the broken household items to prove it. I have had some questionable drive homes, as well.

Kind of scary how that last sentence seems like it's an afterthought.

It would be easy for me to sit here and justify my drinking. I have never gotten a DUI. I have never gotten into a fight. I have never injured myself. More often than not, my drinking is done at home, on the couch.

Excuses. Excuses. Damage isn't only measured in quantifiable instances. You would be, and I have been, a fool to ignore the emotional, and physical toll that my drinking has wrought.

It's just unfortunate that I am only now learning that I have been toeing the line for far too long.

9 comments:

  1. You forgot: What am I going to drink with dinner? A soda? Gatorade? That's all just sugar and just as unhealthy, and I drank water all damn day at work. Some hops would really pair well with this burger...

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    1. Too true. I can easily dig up any excuse for a beer

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  2. I'm really glad you are writing about this topic. It echoes my own experience in a lot of ways. I always thought of myself as a casual drinker, then one night a few months ago, my wife came home from work and I had already had several beers. I wasn't drunk-drunk, but I certainly wasn't sober. I had a history of doing stuff like that (sometimes actually becoming drunk-drunk before my wife got home). Since then we've made a deal: No more alone drinking. If I want a beer, I wait til she gets home.

    This strategy has made a big difference. For the first few weeks, I definitely wanted to have a drink before she got home, but over time, it became less of an issue. Not only do I feel like my relationship with my wife is better, but I also feel like my relationship with alcohol is better. It's no longer as much of a casual-thing-I-do-on-a-regular-basis. Now it's something I enjoy after a long day, or something I get excited about when there's a new beer I want to try.

    Maybe some day I will get back to the point where I can have a drink alone without thinking about having 3 or 4 drinks. But until then, this plan is working (it's also something I've talked about extensively with my therapist).

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    1. gary,

      thanks for reading. it was a super difficult piece to write.

      We mirror each other in a lot of habits, down to talking to our therapist. I used to call those beers I drank before the wife got home "bonus beers" and it became a game. How many before she got home?

      A couple months ago, after a tough discussion, which prompted me to start this, I changed my drinking "schedule."

      Monday-Thursday, no beers. Friday-Sunday, some beers. Not nearly the amount I used to. but I don't need to drink to those excessive amounts anymore. It's constant vigilance.

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    2. Jake,

      I think it's great that you got the conversation started. I bet there are a lot of people like us out there. Stay vigilant!

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  3. Good on you for saying this man. It's hard to put yourself out there like that. I've got a similar blog post about my depression and alcohol dependence written... I just can't commit to hitting publish.

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  4. some days I wonder the same things... i'm right there with you. even think should I stop drinking totally? but then a beer sounds so good...

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  5. Congratulations to have the courage to take a hard look in the mirror and decide to take a hard road to make things better for yourself. Good luck.

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  6. Thanks for stepping up, recognizing and writing about this topic. I've have seen too many of my craft beer friends fall into this same quandary. Some get the DWI too and they still don't stop and its really a tough topic to have with a friend. On the one hand you want to help on the other hand you don't want to be that dick friend that talks out their ass.

    Personally I've always used my shitty alcoholic Dad as my role model, basically everything he did I did the opposite or better. He was in the Navy I went to the Marines, he's a single alcoholic living with his mom, I'm happily married with great kids! Anyway not going to bore you with my stuff but here's a piece I wrote about this a few years back http://thekegtap.com/alcoholism-and-craft-beer/ Cheers man! Good luck on the journey!

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