selfaware soup

Esther Weidauer

Ten Years of Not Drinking

Things could have gone so much worse


Photo of a partly cloudy sky

CW: alcoholism, mental health

It’s the 20th of May 2024, Pentecost/Whitsun weekend for those who observe it, and on this weekend ten years ago I had my last alcoholic drink.

Pentecost is also when the annual goth festival “Wave Gotik Treffen” in Leipzig happens and that’s where I was back then, at a Hamferð concert (great band, btw.), having a beer, and deciding that it would be my last one.

Ten years ago I didn’t think too much about it. I just admitted to myself that I don’t actually like how the effect of alcohol feels, and that I mostly just had it because “it’s just what you do”. I was a little proud of myself for realising that and it felt like the right thing to do because of it.

Great. Taking a little more control over my own life. Well done, past me.

Except now, ten years later and abstinent the entire time since then, that choice feels much more significant and it was probably one of the best calls I’ve made in my entire life.

It took a few years to understand this but I think I did actually have a drinking problem before I stopped. Especially moderation was an issue. At occasions where alcohol consumption was “normal”, which in Germany means pretty much every social gathering or event, one beer usually led to the second and those two quickly became five or more with additional hard spirits added in between if available, and to me being straight up drunk, sometimes very drunk, to the point of vomiting and/or passing out. Afterwards of course came the hangovers, but more importantly shame. I hated how I acted when I was drunk. This pattern would repeat itself quite regularly.

A lot of people maybe wouldn’t classify that as a “drinking problem” because of how normalised drinking, even heavy drinking, is in Germany and other parts of the world, but I’m not here to untangle all that.

All this was at a time when I was still living deep in the closet and with completely untreated trauma as well as unrecognised neurodivergence. I don’t know how much of my drinking was self-destructive behaviour, escapism, peer pressure, or any combination of those, but I’m pretty sure I drank too much in part because of the problems I hadn’t yet faced. Not that facing them would have made that any better.

I’m sure that the crises I would encounter later, especially my intense dysphoria and the early parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, would have been absolute disasters if I had still consumed alcohol when they hit. I’m incredibly glad my past self made that decision before any of that happened. There’s a high chance that I would have tried to drown all of that in alcohol otherwise.

There’s absolutely a possible timeline where I ended up getting drunk every single day, possibly for a very long time. And who knows how long I would have made it like that.

So, thanks to me from ten years ago. Unbeknownst to her, at least consciously, she saved herself and present-me there.

Well done, kiddo. Love you 💜