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Alcoholism Will Never Be Funny

I’m hyper-sensitive.

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:

Sober Mommies Alcoholism Is Hilarious

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 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 suffered in its grip and have needed alcohol addiction treatment. 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?

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  1. Thank you for writing this. I hope it causes an inner dialogue for a lot of people.

  2. i love this , i couldnt have said this any better then you did . thank you so much i honestly thought i might be the only one who took this stuff to heart

  3. This is nothing against you because I completely understand… but everybody is going to be offended by SOMETHING. Its inevitable. George Takei posted a pic of a happy couple on the beach that was supposed to be funny, and people were all up in arms because it was “too soon” after the Santa Barbara massacre. It had nothing to do with it, but people automatically jump there. It doesn’t matter what gets posted. You have every right to be offended. Hell, you have every right to voice that you’re offended, but really the only thing you can do about it is disengage. Stop following them, or block them, or ignore them. And yeah, my ex-husband is a recovering alcoholic. In fact, he didn’t care to change until I slapped him with divorce papers. So, I’ve lived with it. I know how it affects people. I try to be sensitive around him even though he says my comments like “I’m totally drunk!” or “I should make a drink” etc don’t bug him. But I make sure not to go overboard because I understand how hard it could be. But I wouldn’t put jokes like the one above around him.

    1. Amy,

      I understand that people are going to read into things and get upset by everything. This woman mentioned alcoholism specifically. She didn’t post a picture of alcohol. If George Takei had mentioned the massacre in a comment above the picture, I think that would have been a whole different scenario. I didn’t read into this tweet. I didn’t have to.

  4. I really enjoyed this read! I don’t find any humor in joking about alcoholism. Anyone who had suffered with it and the family members no the devastation in it to all involved and there’s absolutely no humor in it. I feel, and just my opinion, until someone has lived with and tried to cope with the deadly grasp of addiction they will never fully understand its mass destruction to everyone involved. Perhaps this will open up the eyes of those who thought it to be humorous.

  5. I think what it comes down to is the response that someone has when we tell them that their words are hurtful, or at least not funny. Like, that person could have easily engaged with you and understood that alcoholism is a disease, and their words are not just offensive, but actually harmful. It’s okay that people don’t see their words as harmful in the beginning, but if someone takes the time to gently bring it to their attention, they have a choice. This person chose to dismiss you (and alcoholics while they were at it, so AWESOME RIGHT?).

    I have a big problem with people using the word “neckbeard” as some kind of insult. My dad had a neckbeard because his disability made it so he couldn’t shave anymore. When I see the word neckbeard, I usually call out that person and tell them that I am reading it as an ableist slur. So far I have gotten really positive responses and people have done some thinking about their word choices. Because these are reasonable, kind people. And I’m sure I’ll run into someone who tells me to grow a thicker skin and to learn to take a joke, blah blah blah. And that person will be being an asshole. I will be mad, and I will have every right to be mad. I hope I’m as reasonable as you are here when I write my angry blog post about it. Lol.

    I am really glad that you said something. Keep saying something. We can be humorous without reverting to harmful language and slurs. I promise. And if someone needs to be a dick to be funny, well. That’s not super creative of them, is it?

  6. I have to say that that comments and jokes about alcoholism, like the one above, don’t bother me- in fact they sometimes make me laugh. Let me explain. 3 years ago, the comment above might have deeply offended me. Why? Because I was continuing my pursuit of alcoholism as a means to escape from everything and everyone. The comment above would have only evoked the guilt and shame that weighed heavily on me already and the pain of taking responsibility of it would have been too much to handle, therefore it was much easier to blame the rest of the world for continuing to kick me while I was already down. Today, when I read the comment above I feel overwhelming gratitude that I AM and alcoholic! How lucky I am to experience true peace and serenity and to work daily on a connection with a higher power and on being a useful human being. How lucky I am to be able to hold a mirror up to myself and to work on the person staring back at me, instead of despise that person. Normal people don’t understand, why would they. But I do, and I know that there is a solution! Alcoholism is not a death sentence. In fact it is a life sentence and it gives me the opportunity to be the best person I can be. I also no longer believe that anyone is drinking against there will, it is their will that is continuing to drink (this is my opinion only and I say this after hearing hundreds of stories of people who were “hopeless”, “chronic” drinkers – even more than myself- who got sober.) Parenting is SO hard- so hard that at times I would rather get a 2nd job, or have elective surgery, or even drink (and I AM an alcoholic and know the consequences!), but what’s funny about that is when my 3 yr old child is having a massive temper tantrum in Target and I suddenly have the urge to escape by doing something drastic, like running out into the parking lot in front of a moving car, I can stop and laugh about how ridiculous the immediate solutions my mind comes up with to escape from this 3 YEAR OLD CHILD is, and it’s funny.

    Side note: I do not participate much in social media. I find twitter and Facebook to be very impersonal and so I much rather connect with people face to face. There is so much more to communication than just words. That being said, I find tremendous value in blogs like this, because there was a time where the computer was the only form of communication I had with the outside world, and so I think its very important for me to continue participation in the tools and resources that helped me in early sobriety.

  7. Does it have to compete with the kind of blogs you’re talking about? Can’t your blog be for you? For other moms who find that humor offensive?

    I don’t know what other ppl think. I make jokes about drinking, not as a coping method just that I enjoy it. I’ll have to think about what you said, I don’t wouldn’t joke about aids/cancer (unless I had, cuz I like jokes) but I make jokes about drinking or eating too much (cuz I like to do both). I do think about how others might feel, if it’s too much I don’t post/tweet/share but what’s too much? We all have different ideas on that.

    1. Author

      I’m not sure I understand your questions above. Who’s competing?

      I wasn’t talking about jokes about drinking. As I stated in this post, those don’t bother me. It’s “jokes” about “alcoholism” that I find offensive because my life has been affected by it. In the same way “jokes” about mental retardation, autism, racism, sexism, rape, murder, sexual abuse, suicide, and billions of other topics might offend those who have been affected by them.

      It frustrates me that alcoholism is not taken seriously even though it has taken lives. I can appreciate a good joke about having too much to drink, but not one about a disease that has killed many of my friends, robs children of their mothers, and makes other lives HELL. I will not laugh at jokes about suffering.

      Does that make sense?

      1. It makes complete sense.

        In the beginning of post I must of thought you were saying you felt like you were competing for popularity with others blogs that are humorous.

        I’m not funny, so it’s not an area I compare myself in. And I think I misunderstood the part about drinking jokes vs alcoholism jokes as well. I’ve dealt withnomly second hand (it runs in my family) and maybe it is insensitive. I hadn’t considered. Mostly I joke about drinking (not to much) occasionally about being a drunk because for me drinking midweek or every weekend is not common place but I worry because of my family history and maybe that’s not cool. I’ll keep it in mind.

  8. I know this is an old post, but thank you for this. This is EXACTLY how I am feeling right now. It isn’t funny. Why does our society think it is??

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