Today is my reddit cake day. I created an account with an anonymous name a year ago to post in the daily check-in on r/stopdrinking, and I’ve posted twice on my own and made many comments on others’ posts in that sub. If I will ever do anything more formal with regard to recovery remains to be seen.
I don’t even know if I to say that I’m in recovery. That’s a loaded term.
So is alcoholic.
Labels feel tricky, especially so if you own such a label. It took me years, along with a lot of hand-writing and fretting to identify as a writer. Identifying as a runner or athlete feels fraudulent, even though I hit the gym five days a week, have run races and am actively training for a half marathon. The stress that comes with a label for me connects with the stress of feeling like an imposter, on the verge of being found out. Even though I write (not always well) and I run (not very fast) and do these things almost every day, there’s comfort in keeping distance from the act of self-identification. I can’t be accused of being a fraud if I only admit to dabbling at the most. (Who would be launching the accusations? What would happen after being “found out,” anyway? Not important. Anxiety doesn’t deal in logic.
I think I once felt the same way about how to identify with regard to drinking, especially in the past year. If I don’t call myself an alcoholic–which I don’t, for a variety of reasons–what do I call myself? What’s the term for someone who’s reevaluating their drinking but not sure if the label of alcoholic is just right?
A year later, I feel strongly about the label of alcoholic. I’m not one, because I don’t agree with the implications of a term that divides people into two categories: those who feel that they can handle the drinking of poison (for now), and those who acknowledge that they can’t. I reject this label and the drinking culture that created and enables it, that faults people over the substance–the goddamn poison.
Right now, today, saying that “I’m not drinking” feels comfortable. This statement feels fluid, in progress. Stating a more simplified “I don’t drink” feels like I’m short changing myself and the work I’m doing. Because this, the reflection and exploration and reading and boundary setting self-care, is a lot of work.
Some day, maybe I’ll identify in a different way when it comes to drinking. Or maybe I won’t at all–maybe I’ll eventually land on “I don’t drink” and that will be it, a further rejection of the need to label myself in some way in relation to alcohol and drinking culture. I don’t know. But I have faith that I’ll get there some day.