Alcoholism Will Never Be Funny
It has taken me years to be able to say that out loud; to own it. The vulnerability that walks alongside those words is scary and sometimes really uncomfortable. Despite the countless suggestions I have received since I was little, I have yet to find “thicker skin.”
I like my skin—it’s transparent, and allows the good, the bad, and the ugly to shine both in and out.
Most of the time, it’s a gift and allows me the ability to connect with others in a meaningful way. Sometimes it can feel like a curse—feeling everything to an extreme can be exhausting and even devastating.
I’m starting to despise social media for this very reason. It seems to have become a popular place for negativity and competition for shock value. When I first started blogging, it was to make people laugh. I started a humor blog and bitched and moaned about the “joys” of motherhood. Honestly, it was I that needed the cheering up, and often I was venting as an escape. It was the connection with others that kept my head above water during those long, terrible months of postpartum depression, and I am so grateful it was available.
I have recently had to take a look at the fact that at some point, I started using it to feed my ego. I’ve started to measure self-esteem with Facebook “likes” and twitter retweets. How much do people “like” me? How hilarious am I? I have tried with all my might to not forget shitty moments in my day so I can post about them later and make you laugh.
I realized that some of the most popular “mommy blogs” out there belong to women who are constantly “ON,” complaining about their children and/or mentioning alcohol as a coping mechanism for motherhood. It has been on my mind for months now, and I have questioned whether I want to be a part of that world; if I even have what it takes. Is it worth it to me? I will obviously not be taking part in the Friday night #wineparty, but could I just avoid that chatter?
Then I saw this:
She responded by telling me it was a joke, but I could not bring myself to find the humor. I get the tweets about having a glass of wine at the end of a long day. I understand that people joke about drinking as a way to deal with stress. These comments, although sometimes obnoxious, are not offensive to me. I realize that jokes about drinking are trendy, even if I don’t agree with them. This tweet made me angry.
All I could think of was the woman who actually is drinking to avoid her children or her life—that woman suffering from real alcoholism.
I thought about all the women that might read this and feel shamed or poked fun at. You know, women that are drinking against their will right now.
How could alcoholism be funny? I’m still struggling with it. Jokes about alcoholism will NEVER be funny to me. I have suffered in its grip. I have lost time with the people I love because of alcoholism. I have lost friends who couldn’t or wouldn’t stop. I have listened to women beg for sobriety so they could stop humiliating and abusing themselves. I have been to wakes and funerals of young women, and listened to their mothers wail over their coffins. I do NOT think that alcoholism is funny.
I don’t know how to make this clear to the people in my life that don’t understand. Would you joke about breast cancer on twitter? Would you joke about AIDS or other diseases that have taken lives? Or would you stop and think about all the people in your life that have been affected in some way and decide against it? We ALL have someone in our life that has been touched by alcoholism.
I beg you to think about that person the next time you think it would be funny to throw out a possibly offensive tweet or Facebook status.
I’ve really had to take a step back and reevaluate my motives in social media. I’ve even thought about doing away with the humor blog altogether. Can I compete with this type of “humor?” Do I even want to? I’m praying about it. I desperately want to be a positive force on the world, and I know I can’t do that if I’m constantly thinking in 140 characters of sarcasm. It’s exhausting and makes me miserable. It has a way of seeping into my life and coloring everything ugly. Humor has its place; please don’t get me wrong. Without it, I would most certainly not have survived my years of sobriety or depression. I love sarcasm. Like L.O.V.E. it. It can be fun and entertaining when I’m not using it as a weapon against myself and others.
It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad about their own choices. It is my intention to remind us that our words have power.
How do we want to use it?
Julie Maida lives in Massachusetts with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.
Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and fiercely determined to advocate for, and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.