I had a problem with drinking once. I’ve been sober a long time. That should be the end of the story. But I was in a situation recently where the topic of alcohol abuse came up with a group of… well they’re not friends. But they’re more than acquaintances. Kind of like the 2001 coming of age anthem “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” by Brittany Spears. It was arguably the most memorable song from the oscar-snubbed film Crossroads. A film which really spoke to our generation and the ennui of coming of age in the confusing aftermath directly after 9/11.
Anyway, we were casually talking about another mutual friend. They thought that this person may have a problem with drinking because of a situation that’s not worth mentioning. Before I could really think about it, I causally said, “You know, I could talk to them, maybe. I used to have a problem too. It’s a really tough thing to approach.”
It got awkward. Fast.
Thankfully someone changed the subject and we moved on; but that got me thinking. In 2001, Brittany Spears was 20 years old. She was clearly already a woman with a history of rich experiences. The single from this album just doesn’t make sense!
Also, why should I feel guilty or ashamed about a problem I used to have?
I think that’s about as absurd as hiding the fact that I broke my leg ten years ago. Look, I’m not proud of the person I used to be. Thankfully most of the memories are fuzzy, but when I remember them, it’s like that feeling you get when you remember an awkward thing you did in high school that one time. It happened, and here we are. More importantly, no one remembers it.
I’m proud of the person I am now. That’s not to say that I’m anywhere close to perfect- far from it. But I’m proud of the fact that I’ve overcome something and hit the other side a stronger person because of it. My past history with alcohol is part of what makes me who I am today. It’s the reason why I appreciate life more. It’s the reason why my wife and I have found a group of amazing friends who are a positive influence. It’s the reason why I chose to go to graduate school and work in the public sector helping communities.
Cleaning up and drying out is one of the single best decisions I have ever made, and if it ever naturally just comes up, I’m not going to hide it. Am I going to start with that when I meet someone? No… but you can be damn sure we’re going to talk about the absolute travesty of the 2002 Academy Awards.