Why I Don’t Drink and Why You Might Not Like It

Ken Donaldson and his favorite Ginger Brew drink

Ken Donaldson and his favorite Ginger Brew drink

When I was about 13 years old I decided to find out why my friends were so proud to have had their first alcohol experience. My Boone’s Farm Wine fiasco (Say, “Oh yeah,” if you can relate) was like many you’ve likely heard: Out of control laughing, followed by dizziness, followed by the bed and head spins and finally, the drunken 20 yard dash to the bathroom to throw up.

It was terrible and in psychological terminology it was full of “negative reinforcers,” which basically means that the negative experience should have deterred future occurrences from happening.

But also like many of my teenage friends, I kept drinking. There was a major element of wanting to be cool and fit in, but also an internal struggle with wanting to “master” the art of drinking and drunkenness.

Young (me), dumb (more me) and foolish (and even more me) in its finest moment!

Suffice to say, I never mastered alcohol intoxication and haven’t even had a drink of alcohol since 1986.

But I’ve noticed a very interesting phenomenon when I’m in an environment in which alcohol is being served. There are often one or two people in various degrees of inebriation who say, “Come on and have a drink,” and when I decline they’ll challenge me with, “Oh come on, I’m buying,” or sometimes an even more belligerent, “What’s a matter, you too good to drink with us?

In the past I would find myself getting defensive and frustrated at the lack of respecting a very simple and straightforward, “No,” but as I’ve gotten older (and a little more insightful) I realize now that there is something else going on.

First, it’s helpful to understand that the only people who seem to challenge my non-drinking stance are the people who are clearly over-drinking.

Second, it’s valuable to know that if someone is reacting with defensive posturing or disrespecting a simple and clear, “No,” then they can only be reacting to something within themselves.

It’s possible my simple decline is like holding a mirror in front them that momentarily breaks through their veil of denial so they can’t help but see their alcohol misuse (stating it mildly).

When you say, “No.” you are expressing the simplest form of a boundary. You are maintaining your integrity and your personal code of honor.

Your code of honor is your values system and is as unique as your fingerprints. It requires no explanation. It does help you embrace your uniqueness and what you’ve decided for yourself is most important for your life.

Also, “No.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. Again, it requires neither explanation nor justification.

Imagine trying to explain or justify why your fingerprints aren’t exactly like other people’s.

If people don’t accept your, “No,” all the explaining in the world won’t satisfy their aggressive denial.

The next time you and I get together don’t be surprised if you hear me order a “Kenmeister.”  That’s one third ginger ale, one third pineapple juice and one third cranberry juice. And I’m also happy to be the designated driver, as long as you respect my, “No.

Not sure where to start? Marry YourSelf First!