Women and Their Relationship with Alcohol: A Reading List

My alcohol story seems like a non-story: I grew up in a home of teetotalers. We did not imbibe alcohol, nor did we discuss it. My mom’s parents are Southern Baptists, so her upbringing was the same. Alcohol made my dad sick, so he avoided it. I was a nerd in high school, which meant: no parties. My conservative Christian college punished drinking on-campus with suspension. For years, I viewed any alcohol consumption with intense discomfort: a mix of fear, suspicion and a self-righteousness that almost destroyed several friendships. I never had more than two drinks at a time, and I’ve never been drunk. After I graduated, I stopped drinking altogether—maybe half a hard lemonade once, but that was it. It’s been well over a year since I had my last drink, and the bar in town knows my penchant for Shirley Temples.

So, I don’t drink. Why? I see in myself the potential for alcoholism. I have an obsessive personality. I deal with depression and anxiety every day, and I know alcohol would become a crutch for me. My anxiety medication doesn’t jibe well with alcohol, and I don’t want to risk my health. Alcoholism is genetic, and it runs in my family.

I’ll admit, I have days so frustrating that I wish I could get wasted. Luckily, I like sobriety most of the time. I like being in control, often to my detriment, so drunkenness isn’t appealing. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, either. For every, “Oh, you’ll love this! You can hardly taste it!” there’s a spit-take and a glare. I can always taste it.

* * *

This quote, from this interview:

We joked that no one would want to read a memoir of a woman who didn’t drink to excess, who was in control of her emotions and her life, who awoke every morning ‘refreshed’…How boring a book that would be!, we said. No one would buy/read a book like that!

True. While I made a list of stories to include this week, I realized the majority focused on alcoholism, not just alcohol. Stories of moderation don’t make it to press, it seems.

* * *

You’ll read work by memoirists, poets and scholars. As Michelle Dean writes, addiction stories may include moments of sentiment and cliche, but they’re no less true. In fact, cliche is tantamount to survival. Seven stories, each with their own twist (no pun intended).


Source: Women and Their Relationship with Alcohol: A Reading List

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