Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 345: am I just a judgmental bitch?

I would really love to be one of those nice, contented souls who genuinely react in a happy, open-minded way to other human beings on most occasions. It is not, however, my natural tendency. I battle often with my lightening-speed impulse to judge others, usually having to stop post-judgment, think again and retract whatever I've decided a certain person's actions have told me about who they are and what they stand for. As I said, I kind of wish I was naturally a little more forgiving of my fellow humans. It seems though, that in the most part I'm not. Aware as I am that being judgmental isn't the most celebrated of traits, I'm under no illusions that what I'm about to say is going to win me any popularity contests. But in the interests of "science", or at least of the truthful reporting of how I feel about alcohol exactly 20 days out from the end of my year off, I will say it anyway. In fact it's not such a shocking discovery. Having observed recently the drinking habits of people around me, I am of the opinion that drinking alcohol in any way other than occasionally and moderately is a definite sign of distress in the individual. If someone begins drinking a lot, or drinking at times when it's not usually acceptable, or is often drunk in situations when other people aren't, it is a clanging alarm bell that somewhere in their life the wheels are falling off. And don't think I exclude myself from this losing the plot classification. Some of my worst times of drinking, my most unthinking and unbridled obliterations of my body and mind, occurred in the time directly after my Mum's death. When I was deeply unhappy in my job, with my achievements, my body, or my place in the world, when I felt disconnected, different to, and isolated from every person on the planet, I would drink my way out of coherent thought so I didn't have to acknowledge how I felt for a while. And brilliantly, that drinking would just exacerbate those exact problems further. So I've been there, believe me. And at the time, I kidded myself that everyone else drank the way I did, and if they didn't, they were squares who didn't know how to have fun. But now I just see alcohol as a badge of disfunction. I see its consumption as an acknowledgment of weakness in the face of outer pressures, kind of like putting up a little sign that says "Sorry guys, I can't handle this.". Not that that's such a bad thing. A little acknowledgment of our fallibility and a little more asking for help once in a while probably wouldn't hurt us as a species. And it's not a bad thing to have a tonic that eases your angst and takes the pressure off you for a bit. But I suppose what gets me, is that because our society's self-medication with alcohol is so widespread and so taken for granted, it's when you don't drink that people start asking what's wrong with you. Funny that. For me at least, and from what I've experienced this year, the not drinking is the first sign that things are coming right.


  1. What a magnificently written statement. People accused of being judgmental often "haven't walked in the other person's shoes" Since we both used have seen both sides of drinking, I think we have earned the right to comment on the drinking behavior of others with some authority.

    Glad to meet you.

  2. Will you miss the 'specialness' of being a teetolatist? Surely it elevates you from the mire somewhat.

  3. Well put Claire, exactly what I've been thinking.

  4. Hey Wes! Nice to meet you too.
    And Jamie, yes probably. We all know how I like to maintain a bit of specialness. Are you still not drinking btw?
    It's weird though, I kind of feel like more than anything else, it's the mindset of being locked into drinking (or anything) that I'm not into now. That kind of need or dependence feels really limiting to me, and I really want to be around people who aren't limited.

  5. Nicely written Claire. I have also noticed how normal it is for people to get pissed, and find it irritating when they question me for not getting pissed with them! As for people self-medicating/reflecting a greater evil, I guess looking back, I have drunk too much at times when things were not going so well. Alcohol is an escape after all. That's a great part of what it does.