Valerie's Story

By Valerie, Age 19

I knew at the age of 6 that I would never have a sip of alcohol in my lifetime. At 6 years old I had to undergo an emergency liver transplant and then again at 17. As I grew older I was told by my doctors and my parents that I wouldn't be able to drink because if I chose to drink then I could face the chance of my liver failing on me once again. At 6 years old I didn't care and didn't even know what alcohol was. As I grew up I was starting to grasp the idea of what it meant for me, no first drink when I turn 21, no first "buzz" when I had too many, no champagne on my wedding day, and no drunken episodes where I would be puking the entire night, and although I am not wishing a night of drunken puking upon myself it seems that it is a rite of passage that I cannot share in. All through high school I stayed away from drinking, but it was east. I hung out with a great group of friends who chose not to drink, but eventually I saw that "oath" fade away and by the end of senior year I began to see drinks in my friends hands. Everyone knew I couldn't drink because they grew up knowing me and what I had gone through. There was never any pressure on me to drink. I never had to explain myself with any of them which made things easy. With college coming around the corner, I was still not worried, I figured that not everyone at school would drink, or at least not every weekend, and drinking wouldn't be a big issue, as it never was. My mom would always ask me during the summer what I would say when someone offered me a drink and I would always reply no thanks, I don't drink. I went to college and played field hockey during the fall, it was against team and league rules to drink in season so I never ran into a problem with drinking. Once the season ended and as my friends at school became more relaxed at school and their settings I noticed how much and how often people would drink. It seemed to me that everyone drank, at least everyone that I knew did, and that they drank every weekend. They were all my good friends and I didn't care in the slightest that they would drink, but after awhile doing the same things every weekend for month after month got old fast. I wouldn't being having as much fun as they were because I wasn’t drinking, standing in a hallway playing beirut isn't that much fun if you are just watching. I decided that I wasn’t going to stand around being bored all the time, so I started throwing the ball and letting others drink for me, and then I decided to fill my cups up with soda, so I could be drinking something too. Soon people's friends from home were coming up, asking why I didn't drink; I didn't want to go into my life story so I would just say that I chose not too. At times I felt that they would judge me for that, and I could read in their expression, why not? I was getting annoyed at people's questions and the fact that everyone would drink every weekend. I loved doing dorky things like going bowling or going to the movies or even just sitting around talking. No one ever seemed to want to go with me anywhere, they all just wanted to go out and drink. I was even getting frustrated when I went to parties; there was never anything for me to drink. I would be dying of thirst all night long because only alcoholic beverages were being served. On the plus side I never had to spend money on beer, which saved me money for other things and I always remember everything that happened the night before. Still to this day I don't understand why someone would put themselves into a drunken state where they can't even remember how they got home. While I am still at school I am trying to find ways to entertain myself during the weekends, instead of sitting around the whole night being the only sober one in the room.