Just Have a Damn Beer

As I sit here at 2:30 am on a Friday night, a little tipsy after a fun-filled night of beer and “pub grub” with my friends, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be in recovery, and how this is how life is supposed to be. How life is supposed to be filled with belly laughs, smiles, spontaneous adventures, and FUN! Beer is FUN, ladies and gentlemen! Seriously, I feel like if, at inpatient, they switched out the Ensure in our NG tubes with beer, just for a day, many eating disorders could be cured, or at least a lot easier to get through! Because, face it: Alcohol is fun, and it eases the perfectionist/OCD thinking, ya know what I mean?! Plus, it is just fun to get a little tipsy now and then — not drunk off your face, but just giggly. Good, old-fashioned, clean fun. (Actually on second thought, that whole NG beer tube thing is a horrible, horrible idea. Kind of 😉 )


But I digress. Beer and I have quite the history. Let’s just say our Facebook Relationship Status would be “It’s Complicated.” Back in high school when I was in my eating disorder, perfection was my measuring stick. My Lie was that in order to have worth, or in order to be worthy of love, I had to be perfect. So naturally, this extended to all areas of my life. At this same time, all my friends started drinking alcohol. But being the perfectionist I was, there was no way in hell that I was going to drink a beer underage, let alone consume the calories in beer and get fat. No way, Josè. Not this girl. I was going to be perfect. Unattainable. Unstained. Beer was beneath me. (I’m literally SMH in disgust at my former self right now). Anyway, since all the social activities now involved beer and partying, I felt so isolated and outcast. And with the eating disorder starting to take hold, I began to withdraw.

Part of me often wonders what would have happened if I would have just had a f#cking beer like everybody else in high school. Would I have developed anorexia? Would I still be struggling with thoughts of inadequacy today? What would have happened if I would have just decided not to get straight A’s and relaxed the whole, “perfection thing?” I know that’s not really something that you can just turn off, like “Oh hey, let me just flip the perfection switch to the ‘Off’ position.” Because I know that was inside of me whether I wanted it to be or not.

But if I just had a damn beer. Seriously. Because with the beer came the friends. With the beer came the engagement and interaction with others, and the acceptance of my friends. I was never judging my friends for drinking. Quite the contrary. But I think they felt that I was, or that I thought I was better than them because I didn’t drink. And if I’m being really brutally honest with myself, I probably did give off a bit of that air: “Thou filthy drink shalt not pass my porcelain lips.” But I just couldn’t do it. The perfectionist in me wouldn’t allow myself to “drink with the masses.”

I would go to my friends’ parties only to be greeted by my friends in their bras and jeans, playing strip pool, while others had sex in the back room. That may sound outrageous, but that was the culture at my public high school. Parents need to remember that this isn’t “Mayberry” in the 1950’s. Today’s teens are from the post-Clinton scandal. They “go hard.” But anyway, being in that scene, I felt like an outsider. That wasn’t me. And so, I stopped going to those parties, withdrew from my friends, and eventually my eating disorder became the only friend I needed. And ED was a stage-five clinger. He was my best friend. The only one I needed. And in time, the only one I wanted.

But back to the beer. If I could go back in time and say one thing to my pre-ED self, it would be this: “Just have a damn beer. It’ll be okay.”

Now, to be clear, I am not condoning underage drinking. And I don’t mean, “Have a beer and have sex and play strip pool like everybody else.” No. What I mean is, “Just relax. Don’t be so uptight.” (Boy, do I sound like a peer pressure/bullying stereotype or what?!) But in all seriousness, having a beer to fit in socially isn’t going to make the sky fall. Break the rules a little. You don’t have to be perfect.

So tonight, as I sit here with beer in my tummy, I rejoice in the victory of recovery. I revel in just how blessed I am to have supportive friends in my life that love me, and want to share a drink with me. I think about the grave significance this silly beverage has had on my life. And I think about journey that I’ve been on, and how, with this beer tonight, it has come full circle.

“Just have a damn beer.”

21 responses to “Just Have a Damn Beer”

  1. Your blog is amazing. I am in the initial stages of recovering. REAL recovery. I know that only I can help myself, but it sure is good to have some motivation. Thank you so much for sharing this x

    • Thank you so much Frankie. That really means a lot. How awesome that you’ve made the decision to reclaim your life and break free from ED. Way to go! I’ll be cheering and praying for you every step of the way. You’re a warrior❤️

      • Well, dear sister, I stopped by your blog after seeing that you had been reading on mine. Thank you. Reading your story on here has helped me to understand disorder that I have never understood and maybe wished I had a touch of, because every calorie that I do not burn up in my sedentary old age goes right to me middle! 🙂 As for your advice, Make mine a Kokanee!
        “It is for feedom that Christ has set you free.”
        God bless you,

  2. […] See here’s the thing with life in recovery: Every day is different. And on some days, you’ll need to hear one thing, where on other days, you’ll need to hear another. It all depends. You’ve got to become a detective to figure out what you need to hear that day that will make you beat ED. Some days it’s getting pissed at ED for robbing me of my life. Other days it’s a stern pep talk like this. Other days it’s rejoicing in recovery and how far I’ve come. […]

  3. Great post, B3. I’ve been saying a lot lately, “I don’t know what happens when we die, but I really hope there’s beer there!” Very empowering stuff here. Thanks!

  4. Yes— so much yes. I had a similar reaction to the type of scene you describe in high school. I wanted to be around my friends… but I also wanted to be in an environment that had some sort of meaning. So I sort of withdrew from the social scene, and ended up feeling very alone… with my only eating disorder and exercise addiction for company. At the time, they seemed more “meaningful” than getting blacked-out at a party. Looking back, I wish I could have found a way to stay more connected with my friends, without quite matching them at that same level.

    • Thanks friend, for this heartfelt reflection. I so feel you. I look back and would do things so differently. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So though I am not thankful for that darkness, i AM thankful for the lessons hat I had to learn the hard way. Thanks for reading. Hugs and love to you xox

  5. Love this post, Beebs. Right on! It would be great to hear a similar one about sex. Maybe not, though. But yea. Of course, providing that there was some emotion behind it. Anyway, my religion never liked beer, but beer likes me, so I can’t really complain, I guess. You really don’t have to do that post on sex, but you write so well. It would be fun to hear. The wind sometimes whispers, though, that sex is evil and brought on because man is degraded and degenerate. I don’t know whether to listen to the wind or to the body parts that feel so refreshed in the wind. Either way, I’m out.

    • The truth is, that the wind says nothing about sex, Daniel 😛 but the fact that God has made sex such a wonderful life-giving extraordinary intimate loving and ecstatic experience, says a lot. The message is: God likes sex and it is his precious divine gift to all of us, to experience the relentless, yes, RELENTLESS (!) tenderness of true intimacy with our chosen partner. Christians are not against Sex, it is the other way around: we believe passionatly that sex is so wonderful and important, that it should be celebrated in a Spirit of true Love.
      By the way, the Lord commands us to have Sex right from the beginning: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Christ is not against Sex, it is the other way around. And I am sure that sex – with DIVINE LOVE IN CHRIST! – is extremely satisfying. We shouldn’t wait because Sex is bad, but because Sex in the Love of Christ is infinite more than a physical exchange of bodily fluids. It is a world of difference.

      Blessings to you,

    • post skriptum…. there are erotic passages in the bible and they are very similar to the love poems from Pablo Neruda (one of my heroes) read the Song of Songs. „Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden that its fragrance may be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.“

      This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; – Bible : Song of Solomon (7) : 7 – 8. … A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.  – Bible : Song of Solomon (1) : 12 – 13. …

      etcetera 😉

      Here a little article about that:

      „The Bible is like my grandmother’s basement, which is a magnificent hodgepodge of everything from jam jars to 83-year-old report cards to failed perpetual motion machines. The Bible, too, has everything under the sun. A creation story? Check. Law books? Yup. Genealogical tables, prophecies, history books, ritual instructions, self-help manuals—they are all in there. And now, right after the grimness of Job—we get … erotica!
      The Song of Songs—aka the “Song of Solomon”—is like nothing else so far in the Bible. It’s an eight-chapter poem, narrated by two lovers. She’s dark, young, and foxy. He’s strong, sexy, and seductive. (He may even be Solomon, the purported author of the song.) No doubt some Bible scholars claim that the song is just an allegory, that the lusty images and panting verses are really enthusiastic prayers. No way. This is no religious metaphor. This is sexy time. This is Last Tango in Judah.
      The song is a duet, with the lovers alternating passages. She starts, and begins with a bang: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” Now that’s an opening line!
      Incidentally, the song is one of the only parts of the Bible written from a woman’s perspective. The song of Miriam after the Red Sea crossing, way back in Exodus Chapter 15, is another female passage I can remember. Are there others? I can’t think of any. (Before anyone raps me for not mentioning the books of Ruth and Esther, let me note that they come later, after the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible.)
      In one of my translations, our songstress describes herself as “dark and swarthy but beautiful.” The other translation—New Revised Standard—uses a more jaunty, modern coinage: “I am black and beautiful.” In both translations—even the “but” one—it’s clear that she’s proud of her dark skin, though it’s not fashionable.
      Midway through the chapter, the fellow jumps in to admire her good looks. They trade compliments of the sappy moon/June variety: Her cheeks are “comely.” He’s a “bag of myrrh … between my breasts.” Her “eyes are doves.”
      Chapter 2
      She’s very forward, our dusky beauty. Her lover is an apple tree, “and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” (Right after that comes the phrase “comfort me with apples,” borrowed by both Ruth Reichl and Peter De Vries as a book title.)
      In the middle of her reverie, she pauses to speak to the young girls in the audience: “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem … do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!” This is the most important verse in the song, so crucial that she repeats it twice in later chapters. What does it mean and why does it matter? As I read the verse, it’s very sensible advice to be careful when you fall in love. Most of the song is charged and erotic: She includes this caution to remind us that she can be this heedless only because he is her one true love. She has guarded her heart and found the right man, and that has freed her to indulge her sensual desires. She wants girls to be careful, not to give away their heart—or their virginity—too easily. This lesson—that love rewards patience—makes the otherwise spicy poem suitable for church and synagogue.
      A gorgeous exchange between the two of them—he’s a gazelle, she’s a dove—climaxes with a line that has been co-opted by brides and grooms everywhere: “My beloved is mine and I am his.”“

  6. It’s a shame that WordPress comments doesn’t allow you to send pictures, as I would have sent a picture of one of my brews of choice. Instead, I’ll send a link to a picture of the type, and if you ever find yourself in Hawaii (no specific location, just to be clear; just Hawaii in general), you should definitely check out the Kona Brewing Company. There might even be some selections in New York!
    Longboard Lager: http://beersandears.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/IMG_0455.jpg
    And just because:

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