Giving Up Liquid Courage - Well Sorta!
Hi! My name is Daniel James DeSimone, and I am 23 years old working in digital marketing for a tech startup in the Boston area. I was first introduced to the WIOYS brand by my good friend Keith who started this beautiful community. I knew immediately I had a connection with the brand when I learned about it’s inclusive, uplifting, and positive culture. I told Keith recently that I have been going through a specific struggle and felt alone.
To get right to the point - I am not a big fan of drinking and thought I should give it up.
I associate a lot of negative things with drinking, and I believe it was influenced by my environment growing up. My parents have been straight edge since early on when my brother and I were born, so mainly 23 years. My mom used to tell me stories about her father drinking often and how it negatively impacted her childhood. It translated into her becoming a party girl going out long nights and drinking. After a significant life change of hers, she left the bottle and had fun the old fashion way.
On the other hand, my dad doesn’t speak about his childhood. He lost his father at an early age forcing him to grow up fast and take care of his 3 younger brothers. I have heard two stories of my father ever being drunk in front of my mom. My mom, at this point in her life, was very turned off by a man let alone my dad being belligerent drunk. When my brother and I were little, my dad had come home from a golf outing drunk. According to my mom, he was crawling up the stairs. Well soon after my mom found him, he began to cry, being embarrassed as a father. This moment showed how much he cared about my mom and his family. So you can see the topic of drinking has been something that has been prevalent throughout my life from a young age.
Fast forward to my introduction into the gay scene.
My first ex-boyfriend and former friend Jeff introduced me to this so-called gay scene. Being from a small town in Connecticut, I had explored 18+ bars and clubs in the area but was never really impressed by the trade hunty. longed for dancing under bright lights, listening to house music, and being surrounded by hot men like the Babylon club in the series “Queer as Folk.” I lived this fantasy when Jeff introduced me to the city of Providence Rhode, Island. Writing about this now I laugh because I avoid that city like the Plague from all the trashy and immature moments. However, I need to realize that those moments are what shaped my persona today.
Club Ego was the premier gay nightlife in Providence. There I met Jeff’s providence crew, who back then intimidated the shit outta me. There were gays of all ages and successful ones too. And here I was 19 and just starting out in community college living at home in Connecticut with my parents. To counter these negative thoughts, I would mask my insecurities by drinking. I use to pregame hard in those days and would drink to blackout. Despite drinking in excessive amounts, I would never get Blackout entirely to the point where I didn’t know what was going on around me. A voice in my head always held me together and told me to stay alert in case something terrible happened. I think it had to do with the fact that I was prone to anxiety and this was a way to keep me aware.
As I grew out of different friend groups throughout the years and began living in different places drinking started to become a burden rather than a fun thing to do. I would go back and forth between not wanting to drink and drinking till I was hammered. These troubled thoughts plagued me during most of my time at Pace University in New York City. Drinking was masking what I truly desired - a supportive and loving boyfriend.
After graduation, I was forced to move home due to the financial burden and began the search for jobs.
I struggled to try to find the dream job I thought I would get right out of college. This translated into depression and anxiety. I ended up working in the office for the entertainment company where I started dancing at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. It was a fun, casual, lax environment, but I was seeking more of a career challenge. My coworkers were no stranger to the bar scene, so I ended up going out to more straight bars. I began to enjoy going out again and started to shy away from gay nightlife.
What most of my friends fail to realize is when I go out to the bar and clubs I desire to meet someone significant, not just casual. I learned the hard way that most guys that were going out weren't looking for the same thing I was. So, going out I let loose and let the bottle take over. I would dance the night away, have fun with friends, but then remained empty inside with an attached hangover.
Well, despite not having an alcohol addiction, 3 months ago I decided I wanted to stop drinking. This meant no drinking wine after work, drinking casually with friends at restaurants, or going out. I started to become more self-conscious about my weight. I wasn’t eating the best, and I would go to the gym here and there rather than consistently like I had been doing in previous years. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t get rid of stubborn weight in my midsection. I knew working out wasn’t enough, so I made some dietary changes. Alcohol was something I thought to cut first since I never liked the taste and had negative environmental factors that shaped my opinion about it. I basically had constructed 3 problems with alcohol: what it was doing to my body, how it changed the people around me, and the past experiences that parents told me about that haunted me. So... I gave it up! I started going out with friends and not having a single drink. It was great the first couple times not spending all that money on drinks or waking up the next day feeling crappy.
After being exposed to sober nightlife more and more without being on everyone’s level, it got old.
I noticed I started to get short with some of my friends. Sober me began to see my friends in a different light. After these situations started to repeat themselves, I started to alienate myself from these situations. At this time I was also unhappy about other things in my life like my job, living at home, and my body. The extroverted kid who used to charge up being out on the dance floor socializing was staying in on Friday nights binge watching a Netflix series or Rupaul’s Drag Race. I started to feel more and more alone.
The process of telling people that I didn't drink got old quick as well. I kept hearing similar responses like:
Who doesn't drink?
Must you hate being around drunk people?
Did you have a drinking problem?
The loneliness began to creep into my life more and more. I almost felt taunted by my inner saboteur (thanks RuPaul). I couldn’t keep relying on friends for help because I knew they weren’t percieving drinking the same way I was. A lot of them looked at the situation as me not taking full advantage of being young. Which to me sounded silly. Why did I need to drink in order to enjoy my youth. I wanted to have fun the sober way since I knew I was extroverted enough that I didn't need alcohol as an excuse to become more social. I also figured if I gave up drinking that my body would thank me later in life.
I had been sticking it out well up until recently. I moved to Boston for a new job at the end of July and have been introduced to people here and there through my wonderful roommates. I did have a couple of weekends where I did cheat but in general, have not had a problem saying no. There have been situations that have been very hard to deny a drink i.e. work socials. Those situations have definitely been the hardest especially being new to the company I wanted to fit in with everyone. I am by no means saying that my company is all about drinking, but they do believe that hard work should be rewarded with play time.
Another situation that pulled me back to the bottle was Montreal pride. I knew that the company I was going with would want to drink and not just casually, but the typical pregame long night kind of a thing. I never had a problem with that in the past however my new lifestyle caused a little internal conflict. There was one night where I legit sobbed at the desk in my Airbnb as my housemates were out at the liquor store. I knew that I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself sober around the party scene, so I gave in and let loose. After that weekend I felt guilty. I felt like I betrayed myself and ruined the progress I had been making.
These situations and many more made me realize it was the people I was around and the situations I was in that shaped my behavior.
Peer pressure is real. I used to laugh in middle and high school health class at the videos of kids in groups offering each other crazy drugs thinking I would never surround myself with people like that. But unfortunately, the gay scene is plagued with these types of things. Especially now in 2018, us gays feel so liberated that now we are able to live our lives and do whatever we want. We can live our lives and have no regrets. However, I have dealt with some of those "regrets."
This is what brought me to WIOYS and BIG brand. I am hoping to share this story wearing all emotions on my sleeve in hopes that I inspire others to give up drinking or even just cut back. I want others to use me as a power to fuel them to be their best and healthy selves. I also want to thank all who have read my story. I will be continuing to spread the brand's message and inspire others with different lessons I have learned through my 23 years of life. Older generations think we are lazy and get things handed to us. What they fail to realize is we are the generation that is shaping the future, so let's make it better!