I went to a whisky tasting, yes I know, bad idea to go to an event specifically about drinking so early in recovery. Especially because scotch whisky was one of my drinks. But I knew E would be there and I wanted to accept the invitation from the hosts. I didn't want to disappoint people. Another no-no in recovery safety.
The not drinking part was actually fine, but the isolation from the camaraderie was hard. It was a true blind tasting, so the party was really centered around the table, the characteristics of the different pours and I was outside of that inner circle, outside that dialog and coolness, sitting with soda water on a couch. Boo.
What irked me was that the party broke into gender camps and I was on the wrong side of where I normally would be. There were 7 women at the party and only one of them participated in the whisky tasting. I noticed that and felt really uncool for being one more woman fulfilling the stereotype that whisky is a man's drink. I wanted to impress and drink with the big boys.
Husband said to me at the end of the night that he felt bad for me, he knew how I would feel about not "man-ing up" with the scotch drinking and having to tea tottering in the fringes. He gets me.
The hostess served beautiful homemade food and made sure everyone had plenty to eat and drink while her husband shared his extensive and expensive Scotch collection from their travels to Scotland. The other ladies hovered on the edges watching their men drink and joke, and E and I sat on the couch chatting. Which was fine, but didn't have the same allure of conversations that I missed, some of the stories Husband recapped I bet were really funny first-hand. I didn't like how it was the men being active and the women being passive-it was their event and we were there as an the other-half, sitting oh the couch having our own conversations.
So I butted up against the feminist identity I've cultivated for a long time and that I have been working on to redefine. As a teenager and young adult I believed feminism was to strive to be as good as the next guy [alway a guy] and to do that I had to strip away my femininity and excel in the macho pursuits my father would be proud of-sports, understanding cars, drinking, distain for the feminine.
How else could I get the approval of a working class alcoholic dad but to show up in his world? The only problem was that I was a girl. So I stripped down my girliness as much as I could and became externally tough, versed in his language and became indoctrinated in disdain for femininity and myself by association. But consciously, I wasn't stripping away my identity, I felt proud to break the lady stereotypes out there. I thought I was rebellious and embodying the quote: "well-behaved women seldom make history." But this led me to being the last one at the bar, never saying no to another drink, romanticizing drinking alone and both covering and accessing my emotions with a strong drink.
I wanted that kind of respect that the world showed me men got because it value men and male over my gender. Lead role kind of respect. Go big or go home kind of respect. Being in the center not on the sidelines kind of respect. That identity was more fun than prudence. More fun than a supportive role. More fun than being the "better half" or the "moral compass."
Even though I don't strive to be one of the dudes any more, my old understandings of feminism and hipness are still woven in my psyche. I don't think I necessarily need to avoid boozy events, but I need to avoid events that make me feel uncool or feel like an outsider until I can really internalize "I'm still fun even though I'm sober." Right now "sober and fun" is a little too parallel to "good for a girl." You can imagine how I feel about that.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp