For those of you who don’t live in Australia, let me explain something.
Australia has a huge drinking culture.
A few years back EVERYTHING for me revolved around booze. And it wasn’t just one or two or three in one sitting…it was round buying, drinking more than the ‘standard’. It was drink till you got drunk. If you didn’t have an alcoholic beverage in your hand, you would be questioned until you did, or your pleas of ‘No, I’m fine thanks’ would be ignored, and you would end up with a drink or three in front of you.
And I’m an Aussie. I grew up around alcohol, and I developed a love for drinking at the ripe old age of 15 – behind my parents backs of course (they found out, as all good parents do).
At the start, I drank to fit in with the crowd. I was never a kid to stand up to peer pressure. Looking back on it I was pressured…by boys and by myself. I wanted to be liked, and I was so god damn shy (and I hated myself so much) that alcohol turned into the perfect solution for me.
For a while, alcohol was the one thing that would enable me to let my hair down. And boy could I let my hair down. Drinking, dancing, drinking more, dancing more, and drinking more and more…and then being incredibly sick. It was okay until I got into my late 20′s and the hangovers multiplied by 100.
One could say alcohol was my vice. That’s not to say that I’ve always drank. In my mid-twenties I gave up the booze for a year! This was when I went on my first round of anti-depressants. But let me tell you, dealing with the peer pressure I experienced was a bitch! My boyfriend at the time, and his friends, loved to drink (and dabble in other chemical substances), and for more times than I remember I was treated like I was a freak for not joining them. Well, I care not these days. Peer pressure in my twenties, seriously!?
And then I backpacked and worked my way back into it – which is what your atypical backpacker does – plus I found myself living and working in a pub. I mean, drinking was part of the job description!
On returning home I continued drinking. I was hanging out with the boys and I was matching them drink for drink. My drinking skyrocketed into bingeing, to accompany the transformation of the Australian drinking culture into one of the ‘bingeing’ culture’ – let’s all drink until we get literally paralytic? Sounds great doesn’t it.
Over the last two years I’ve ‘settled down’, and my liver is thankful for it. Since December, and since embarking on the allergy diet, I’ve hardly touched alcohol and am now enjoying the occasional glass or two of wine every now and then (I can’t physically handle any more than 2 these days). Sure, it made me look incredibly anti-social over the Christmas period (I was even treated that way), and the peer pressure – well, it’s not as bad as it was when I was in my twenties, but these days I’m a lot more ‘vocal’ in my defence (someone sticks up for themselves these days).
It doesn’t matter anyway. I like the new me, and I like the new things I’m interested in. And I no longer need alcohol to let my hair down and ‘be myself’ for I am now actually ‘myself’.