I tried to be straight edge. Some of my best friends in the world are edge. I just could not do it.
I have a mixed history with alcohol really, my father gave up drinking when I was young because it just was not right for him anymore. Something that I admire his ability to do and control after all these years. I started drinking at about fourteen years old, as I mentioned in an earlier article. I went too hard way too fast if I have to be honest (and I do), and drank in excess for a few years. I used it to deal with emotions and to have fun. If a party was happening, I was going to get drunk/stoned without a doubt. It came to a head during one new years party where I drank more than I ever had before and woke up paying for it in more ways than one. During that night, not only had I put my body through its paces, but had also in the process cut ties with a close friend (that I would not repair the relationship with for many years). I was eighteen at the time and had decided it was time to quit drinking. I was not straight edge but I was definitely anti-drinking, and managed to go about four years without a drink.
I found myself at the age of twenty-four wondering if maybe it was time to give drinking a chance again; maybe I would be able to drink socially and not make it a big deal. It worked for the most part, I did not get drunk or go out partying and drinking until I was sick. The issue here is that I was not really ready to drink, and I did not always feel safe in the environments I was in when drinking. I was not surrounding myself with the people I needed to when I drank (which was completely my fault) and allowing myself to relax. I was merely drinking because everyone around me was drinking and I wanted to be able to take part in the activities with them. The lesson I needed to learn, but was failing to, was that just because everyone around me was drinking and I was currently in a “pro drinking” state of mind, it did not mean I HAD to drink every time.
As for trying to go straight edge, well that happened rather quickly. It was the first time I had ever been into a strip club, and it would also be the last time. After milling around the outer edges looking for enough room for my group to sit, we spotted an empty section front row centre. It was more insane than I could have imagined, a strange mix of dancers that seemed to love it and others that I swear were dead in the eyes. The real story here is the crowd, the drunken frat boys cheering and howling at the dancers. Downing drink after drink until finally I turned to a friend of mine (who happened to be edge himself) and said “This is it, I’m going edge. I don’t want to be a part of this anymore.” And to be honest truer words could not have been spoken. This was (and is) not a lifestyle that I wanted to be a part of; I looked around and felt depressed and sick to my stomach. This place was just not somewhere that I belonged.
I should also point out that I love the concept of being straight edge, the commitment to not being a part of something that you deem unsavoury. I still hold a lot of straight edge beliefs close to my heart; I am strongly anti-drug and have not wavered from that for the last ten years. I do not support drinking in excess, and never will. I believe that once in a while, everyone needs to take a hard look at how much they drink, as well as how often. In addition to that, sometimes it is necessary to ask why you are drinking. Really, I know that the only reason I lasted as long as I did being straight edge (about ten months) was fear of letting down the friends I have that are also edge. I felt like a failure, and a disappointment to them which was worse than anything to me. My friends are my family and I hold their view of me with very high regard.
I sit here now having come to the conclusion over the last few months that I do enjoy drinking and am going to do it. I can not deny that I love dark spiced rum mixed with a bit of coke or pepsi, or a margarita on a really hot day sitting on a terrace. Ultimately it was one of my best friends in the world, Sam, that helped me realize what I needed to know. And that was that just because I do drink, does not mean I ever have to drink. Just because I go to a bar does not mean I must have anything other than water, or when at a party I do not have to accept a beer just because I can. I drink when I feel safe, and am in the right mood for it. That might mean a few drinks a week, or it might mean one drink a year. And I am happy about that. I have never been in a better place mentally and I think I am ready to settle in to the fact that I will never be straight edge. Which is ok by me.
Not straight edge, but supportive