In Defense of Alcohol
By Kelly Crigger
Everyone tells you not to drink when you’re emotional or hurting. And they’re probably right. But there are times when it helps and those people who say it’s wrong will never understand those of us who don’t just feel it’s right, but necessary.
When I’m buzzed I don’t feel the weight of my failed life crashing down on me. I don’t consider myself so much of a loser as just a guy making a tactical retreat until I can figure shit out. I feel okay with who I am and where I am in this life. When I drink, the world is still out there, but it doesn’t have a jack boot on my throat for a while. The pain, the sorrow, the self-loathing, the constant questioning of where my life is going…don’t care. I’m more interested in how Game of Thrones is going to end up than my own life.
When I drink I love deeper. Before you say “that’s sad, bro. You should love deeper all the time,” consider this…would you rather have me stay sober and not love at all?
The term happy drunk is totally true. Some of us find an escape in the bottle. Is that really so bad? Would you rather I lived a miserable sober life?
When I drink I don’t yell, I don’t hate, and generally have zero fucks to give about anything. I sit down, keep to myself, and do what’s important to me…write and talk to my kids. And not in a drunken slur, but in a teaching “here’s the way the world really works and how you can prepare for it” way. Is it heresy to suggest I may be a better father when the drop is in me? Shame, Jamie Lannister!
Alcohol may make my life shorter, but isn’t a shorter, happier life better than a longer, darker one? People say it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. And I agree with that having given my heart away completely and felt the incomparable joys of a true love reciprocated. So why does everyone want to convince me that it’s better to live a longer, loveless, darker life than a drunken, shorter, happier one? At least that way I had seen the beauty of the mountaintop and the valley below, a perspective few are privileged to experience. If that’s who I am at the core then how can any of you tea totalers tell me I’m wrong?
When my father was on his deathbed, he was taken to hospice where they filled him with morphine so we could watch him die in a happy comatose state. It only lasted 24 hours. So what’s wrong with doing the same thing over 24 years?
When I drink, I write. And my friends at Ranger Up have even lauded me for this. So why get on my ass for imbibing when everyone really gets a kick out of my ramblings, terminological inexactitude (a joke none of you will get), and comedic genius? Humans are selfish and weak and would rather laugh at someone else’s pain in private than admit that they’re actually in pain in public.
Look, I get it. Alcohol is addictive, a depressant, a physical dependency, leads to bigger drugs, and has lots of bad side effects. I know these things because I had three members of my family die from it. I monitor exactly how much I drink and know where the performance envelope is. I force myself to not drink X nights a week. I’m not going to reveal how many, but they are easily the most boring nights of my life. If there’s a drawback to drinking it’s that I don’t wash my hands after I pee. But then again, I can’t remember the last time I peed on my hands.
Everyone is different and reacts differently to booze. Some people use it as a crutch to stay indoors, avoid human contact, and let themselves fall into the abyss and I feel for them. Some of us use it to forget that we already live in the abyss because being sober in the abyss is much worse than being a happy drunk in the abyss. Not all of us look at the world like a “Life is Good” cliche Jeep tire cover. Life is not good to everyone and is only pain to us “glass is half empty” pessimists. Booze helps us understand and tolerate the “glass is half full” crowd. Maybe you could do the same for us.
So I’m writing this under the influence. If I had gone to the gym and watched TV tonight like a sober person, you wouldn’t be reading and reacting to this. But I had an emotional (not so much bad) day and decided to have 3 cocktails and write. That decision ended up taking 5-10 minutes of your life depending on how fast your eyes work. Was it worth it? Did my drinking habit bring you some joy or enlightenment or laughs or anger? Do you feel shame, pity, or sorrow for me now? Is feeling something better than feeling nothing at all? If so, maybe you’ll understand a drinker more than you did before.
Because when we drink, we feel.