Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Weekend of New Experiences

This weekend, I did something I said I would never, ever do.  I drank alcohol. I have been reading on some of the ex-Mormon blogs about how freeing it was to drink alcohol; it proved to them that they wouldn't get smited or the world collapsed or something equally dreadful. I figured I'm 27 years old.  I may as well try it and see what all the fuss is about.
   So we went to the liquor store to pick something out.  I told the kid behind the counter that I had never had alcohol before, could he please pick me out something tasty.  I ended up with a handle of some type of spiked fruit punch.  We drove home, and my husband poured some into our cups.
   I literally sat looking at the contents of the glass for 5 minutes.  Going through my head was everything alcohol meant to me: abuse, violence, loss of control, and memories of my dad.   My sister, who is a frequent taster of adult beverages, has told me many times that taking a drink won't make me an alcoholic.  Yet I've told myself that it's easier to never start than to stop.  I've been scared my whole life of turning into my dad (or the entire paternal line), and that was equated with drinking.  I kept going back and forth, all the while staring at my reflection in the punch.
   I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but after I was done staring down the liquor, I stuck my tongue in it like a cat; I wasn't ready for a full gulp.  After that settled, I tried a sip, then another.  What I realised: I don't like the taste of alcohol, I don't like the way it seems to seep into my tongue. I don't have a desire to taste it again.
   I can't tell you what a relief that was.  I was afraid that I would take a sip, love it, and want more constantly.  I was afraid, that one drink would lead to alcoholism, and I'd be one more causality to the family problem.  I'm glad I broke my rule.  I'm glad I know that I don't drink because it's distasteful rather than because of fear.  Like leaving Mormonism, I am tired of my choices being governed by trepidation of consequences.  I realise now I would rather fall taking a leap of faith than hug the edge like a coward.

   Another new thing I tried was going to the local Unitarian Universalist church.  This was the 2nd time in my entire life I'd gone to another type of service than LDS.  The first was when I was 9.  I went to a Lutheran church with my grandma, and was so impressed that the pastor was a woman.
  For those who have never been to an LDS service, it is very...uptight, for lack of a better word.  The songs are mostly ponderous, the talks are pedantic and formulaic.  A lot of Mormonism is "Do XYZ and good things will happen."  An oversimplification, but you get the general idea.
   At the UU, there was clapping from the audience, a guitar player, and a service about Unions (in honour of Labour Day).  People seemed genuinely interested in why I was there.  There wasn't a lot of "how are you?" as the asker walks past you in the hall.  People that wanted to talk to me did, and those that didn't didn't feel obligated to small talk.  It was kind of nice.  
   I thought it was interesting that instead of prayers, there were poems, meditation, and food for thought.  People were invited up to share their joys/sorrows.  I was impressed at the amount of activism that was discussed.  I was surprised that instead of the "Oh, you're gay...we disapprove but love you anyway" of Mormondom, that partners, spouses, and singles were kind of equal.  It seemed to me more of a "We'll take you how you are" than I am used to.
   I still feel a slight culture shock, because it was just so different than what I'm used to.  It was amusing that people seemed shocked to have a former Mormon inquiring about the Pagan group.  I imagine those two don't mix very often-at least here in Kansas.
   Overall, I think I will go back.  It was fun and enlightening.  Uplifting without the guilt.  I left with a desire to be a better human, and want to help fix the world; whereas at the LDS church, I would leave feeling guilty, tired, and hopeless, because I would never be good enough.
   I feel confident that things in my life are starting to un-stagnate.  While I still feel like I'm walking through a swamp, there is less ooze, and sometimes I can feel the bottom.  Life is good. :)

8 comments:

  1. I can't begin to say how excited I am that you gave the UU church a try. Whether or not you choose to stay and participate long-term, it's a great first step. I hope you are able to find a happy, healthy and supportive community. It's so helpful as you weather the ups and downs of life. Our joys and sufferings have a place and a role in a larger community, and it is good to find a place where that can be shared and others can share theirs with you. As social creatures, it completes us.

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    1. Thanks! :)
      And thanks for encouraging me to go to UU. I think it's a good step.

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  2. I too was raised in a world where alcohol was evil. Most of my mom's family are/were alcoholics and I think my mom conflated her personal experience with alcohol with a religious conviction about it. Anyway, I didn't have my first beer until I was 25 and I thought it was disgusting. Now almost 10 years later I can practically count on one hand the number of alcoholic drinks I've had... So you're definitely not alone in that regard.

    It does kinda bug me though, that most people think I'm a teetotaller for religious reasons. Same thing when I say I don't drink coffee...They think I'm Mormon, but really I just hate coffee.

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    1. It's sad that the only reason people can think of for others not wanting alcohol/coffee is religious...like there's no room for personal taste outside of religion.

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  3. That sounds so familiar! It was such a relief to know that the world didn't collapse after my first drink. I think everyone hates alcohol their first try and of course its totally up to you if you want to cultivate a taste for it. I decided that while I have no interest in ever going out and getting hammered I was tired of feeling like a wet blanket every time there was a social situation involving drinking (and as Marc pointed out I didn't enjoy people assuming I'm being religious or judgey for abstaining). Now every once in a while I'll drink a glass of wine in the evening and I'm gradually developing a taste for it so that when I'm at a wedding I can toast the couple along with everyone else and actually enjoy it. Because I also have a family history of alcoholism though I've imposed a 2 drink limit on myself. I find that having a drink or two allows me to participate socially without any awkwardness but also isn't enough for me to get drunk or make a fool of myself. It's also practically impossible to become addicted under those circumstances. I would think that given your genetics and mental health history you'd want to avoid binge drinking but it must be a huge relief to know that you tasted alcohol and that life goes on.

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    1. A 2 drink limit is a really good idea. If I were to try to cultivate a taste for the stuff, I would definitely adopt that.
      Turns out that alcohol and my bipolar meds are a terrible combination, so I guess I don't have to worry. :)
      And yes, it was very reassuring that the world kept spinning, even after I tried alcohol. Thank you for your encouragement to take that step.

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  4. "I would rather fall taking a leap of faith than hug the edge like a coward." This! Rock on with your awesome self, Lady!

    As for the UU Service, I'm glad it was such a positive experience for you! Religious services of any kind should leave participants with a positive and supported feeling, that's how you know it's a right path for you.

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    1. Thank you! I really appreciate it. :D

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