This Is The Brutally Honest Truth About Why I Stopped Drinking Whiskey


Because when I drank it, I got far too angry.
At you. At the world.
I screamed at you from the chair that had once belonged to my father,
telling you how I could listen to my music as loud as
I damn well pleased, thank you very much.
You retreated, defeated, and I kept drinking Jack Daniels,

Because it gave me carte blanche to behave terribly.
“It’s not my fault,” I thought, numb. “I was drinking whiskey.”
I could excuse all the horrible things I said,
the people I embarrassed,
the scenes I caused.
“I was drinking whiskey, it makes me crazy.”
It would become a mantra of mine
at the tender age of 22.

Because it was a connection to my father
that was not flattering, not becoming of his character,
yet I recalled my mother saying
“He couldn’t drink whiskey”
and after my first outburst
I collected this label like a badge of honor.
Something to wear proudly on my chest —
“Can’t drink whiskey.”
Something to tie me to him, even in death.

Because I got too drunk, and when I got too drunk I cried.
I cried the way I hadn’t at his memorial service,
the way I hadn’t at his funeral,
the way I hadn’t when I’d returned “home” and sat in silence,
knowing his shirts still hung in the closets upstairs.

Because I wanted him back and nothing could bring him back
so I drank whiskey and I yelled and I cried
and I behaved badly
and no one could pull me away from the cliff’s edge I wanted to throw myself off of.
I hurt people, people I loved,
people who hadn’t evaporated into the ether.
As much as I wanted to believe nothing mattered,
I mattered, and that realization was almost enough to kill me.

And so I stopped drinking whiskey.

Instead, I looked for music that inspired something inside my heart.
I paid attention to the little things in life —
happily singing birds, a good burger,
a friend’s funny joke —
and I knew everything would be okay.
It would be hard, but it would be okay.

Instead, I repeated my new mantra:
It would be hard, but it would be okay.

And eventually, I drank whiskey.
And I did not cry. I did not scream at the ones who loved me.
Instead, I let the warmth flow through my veins.
I embraced the comfort it offered me in small amber sips.
I told whiskey it was not its fault I felt this way — it was not anyone’s fault
but my own.

These days, I drink whiskey,
but only when I’m celebrating.
Because the reason I told myself I couldn’t drink whiskey?
It was bullshit.
It was weakness covered by grief covered by Jack Daniels.
But that’s okay.
I’m okay.

Now, when fate smiles on me and gives me a break,
I drink whiskey.

And god damn,
does it taste good.