I have always been a bit of a drinker. When you start working in restaurants at the impressionable age of sixteen, I guess you don’t have much of a choice: drinking is part of the restaurant industry’s culture (maybe you have a choice; I didn’t, I am a sucker for a good time). I always thought I was a better person when I was drinking. I am a bit of a misanthrope, an introvert, an awkward geek, the type of person who needs social lubrication, so drinking just fit well with me. And seriously, I am a fun drunk.
I am not an alcoholic, but I think that is just because I was lucky enough to be born without an addictive personality. I am really self-critical, and anytime my drinking started to get out of control, I would check myself and give it up for a couple weeks/months because I never wanted to become an alcoholic. I never wanted to become an alcoholic because I knew it would mean never. drinking. again.
So went my life until I found paleo. Well, I should say, drinking and being around drunks was becoming less and less appealing to me when I found paleo. You can only work at so many bars/breweries before the sight of another drunken idiot starting a fight or “forgetting” to pay his/her tab gets old. I was working at a brewery, a slightly-bitter 29-year-old waitress, when I begrudgingly gave up processed foods, grains, legumes, dairy, and vegetable oils because it was what crossfitters did in Central Oregon, and I had just become a crossfitter. And as I became more smitten with my new lifestyle, something started to change. That after-work beer that is all you think about while running your ass off for rent money started to sound less delicious. I started to get really sick when I did drink- like spending the whole next day puking sick. I started to think of the consequences of what drinking would do to me before I imbibed.
And this has been my dilemma ever since: What the hell are you supposed to do for a social life if you don’t drink? I know many people get along just fine without drinking. I know it is horrible for me to say I feel uncomfortable getting to know someone without a drink in hand. But that is just the way it is.
Nowadays, I imbibe, mostly red wine or tequila, but infrequently. A pseudo-teetotaler lifestyle has fit me well here in Flagstaff. I am busy and broke, putting TDL through nursing school. He is the only one I drink with and he understands my one-drink limit. But what am I to do when we move from this place and I try to reclaim a social life? Do I hope that we move to a place with lots of fellow paleos, so we can have a blast cooking, discussing the latest peer-reviewed journal articles, and trying on barefoot shoes? It sounds like a blast (I am serious), but it is doubtful we will move somewhere that idyllic.
I guess I sound ridiculous, but for someone who has spent most of their life centering their social activities around drinking, this is the hardest thing about paleo. Way harder than saying no to bread.