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For as long as I can remember, alcohol has played a big part in my life.
When I was younger, I watched my mom transform every night into someone I didn't recognize. I watched in shame as she destroyed my family slowly, drink after drink. My sister's mental health went down the drain, and my father gave up hope.
It wasn't just her, though... it was a family curse.
I shook off the peer pressure and swore I'd never drink, not even until I was of age. A made silent and vocal vows that I'd never drink... ever. Almost everyone in my family knew how I felt.
"Straight Edge" was something I was proud to call myself for a lot of my teen years. It was the hip term that made practicing sobriety seem like a popular thing to do. I was one of the "cool kids" in my mind, separated from the underage drinkers and partiers. They were the real losers.
But as most things in life seem to do... I changed.
More and more of my underage family and friends started to dabble in drink, already surrounded by the adults in our lives that bordered the fine line of being alcoholic. I finally joined them, caving in to the inherited addiction that seemed to flow like poison in my bloodstream. Looking back at it, it’s not surprising at all to see how we got to that low point.
And I'm still climbing out of it.
Blackouts, recalling things that I'm ashamed of, broken promises, lies, fear, disgust, wanting to take it back and knowing that I just can't. It's not at all fun! And it's not an easy thing to question your very identity at the bottom of every shot glass. But I kept on doing it.
"It'll be different this time."
"I won't drink as much."
"I'd never do anything that bad."
"My friends are here."
"I'm not like them."
"I'm not like my mother."
One of the most resounding memories I have is of my boss sitting me down in the little European deli across the street from work, telling me that I should get a new job because he wouldn't be able to give me the hours that I needed any more. He asked me about my life, and without judgment, cautioned me to quit drinking.
He had experienced, first-hand, the pain that it could cause. He had witnessed it in himself, and in his own family.
With all the fatherly love he could muster, he gave me a slab of wisdom that day. I left it on some secluded, dusty shelf in the back of my mind. But now it's time to pick it up, dust it off, and take a good look at it.
And it is up to me to carve, chisel, and refine it.
Straight Edge isn't the term I'll be using to label myself anymore. In fact, I'm done with labels! I'm not the same naive girl who thought that she was better than everyone else. I refuse to look down on all the people who just want an escape from the bullshit we're handed on a daily basis.
Because now I've grown up... and I've experienced the pain that comes with life. I understand the struggle. I relate to the people I once couldn't stand to look at, because now I know that I am them.
I saw myself in them before, and I shunned the thought. I was unwilling to acknowledge who I was. But not anymore.
We're not Straight Edge or alcoholics...