White Lightning

I have a secret that leaves people muttering “But…why?” I’m tee-total. I’ve never, ever been drunk. For some reason this makes me a social abnormality, a freak. You are reading this already trying to work out why.

I go to pubs a lot. I even smoke. I’ve tried the odd sip, yet I have survived through my teens and university drinking coke. When the subject arises it’s treated as if I am confessing to paedophilia, such is the shock, confusion and disgust.

It makes me disappointed in the human race every fucking time. If someone doesn’t smoke, it isn’t questioned. If you come out, you either get supported or called very bad words. So why the hell is not drinking treated as a fucking impossibility? So I’ve taken to responding in three ways, depending on how fucking annoyed I am.

Stage one is “I don’t like the taste.” This is true. The number of people who tell me that they got used to beer makes me wonder why I’d want to go through years of getting used to something that vile.

Stage two, I ratchet it up a notch: “I was on a lot of painkillers through university.” Sad to say this is also true. Not that I wouldn’t try it, but I was fucked up enough already for hangovers not to appeal.

Stage three is deployed only when I either think you’re either a total cunt or a possible ally: “My father was a mentally abusive alcoholic who made my life a living hell, and I promised I would never do that to another person.” Yeah, also true.

Feel bad now don’t you? Good. Did you really think the reason had to be because I’m religious or a prissy control freak? Isn’t overreacting over someone not drinking really a sign that you have the problem?

I don’t drink as I’m pretty sure I would become violent. I will never put anyone at risk just for a drink. It is irresponsible and unbelievably selfish. Inside my head I have violent, furious outbursts, but I manage it, usually by calling someone a cunt under my breath and kicking a door frame.

I have nothing against people who drink and understand the rules. My close friends tell me alcohol merely frees their tongue a little, relaxes them, but they essentially are the same. Normally I can see this is true. They’ve helped me not fear everyone who drinks.

Then there are the cunts, and you know who you are. It’s you people who roll out the “I was drunk” excuse. To you, I am going to be blunt; as a child of abuse, you need to fucking stop saying that.

Growing up with an abusive alcoholic teaches you that being drunk is just an excuse to be a terrible piece of scum who gets away with everything. This is complete and utter bullshit. The idea that you can do things you do not approve of or are out of character when drunk is a lie. You are using alcohol to excuse something you wanted to do in the first place, much like people use an imaginary friend as a child.

My father despised me when he was sober and drunk – he simply used the alcohol to tell me his reasons under a veil of White Lightning. These could then be dismissed as ravings when he returned to his normal, gutless self.

Alcohol enhances who you are and what you want. It does not make you a different person. You’ve all heard this excuse, you may have even used it, and I’m telling you as a tee-total herder of drunks – YOU ARE ALL LYING. You can’t walk straight, you may vomit, you’ll probably rant about any random thought, but who you really are and what you want is always there, lurking beneath. It’s rolled out like a tired storyline in a soap opera: “Honest Shelia, I have no idea where all the money went, I was wasted.” “Barry, I was pissed, I didn’t who I was kissing, it meant nothing.”

I guarantee that the time you said something you shouldn’t have, completely unfiltered when drunk, no matter if you use the excuse the other person will remember it and know that is how you feel. You are merely making them feel guilty for being upset. Acknowledge it, apologise if required, try to explain; just don’t use a worthless excuse as though it’s sincere and absolves you. The sooner this “I was drunk” fallacy is destroyed, the sooner abused families might understand it’s totally unacceptable.

And maybe give us non-drinkers less disgust and more respect. Maybe think why, before you recoil in horror. You should cherish me, not fear me. I will remember everything the next day. I will have fun and talk nonsense with the best of you. I will usually guide you home safely.

I’m also stubborn enough not to attempt to train myself to drink vinegar or battery acid, and will tell you to stop being a prick to your face with sober clarity. Who is the real freak here?

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