This Election Might Drive Me to Drink

By Bridget Phetasy 10/04/16

"Should I just join the country at what I perceive to be a national rock bottom?” I feel like no matter who wins, this election has been a loss for us all.

This Election Might Drive Me to Drink
I still won't. But still.

It’s 5:11 a.m. I wake up to a text from my Republican uncle who has sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal piece about why Hillary Clinton is corrupt. I curl into the fetal position and pull the covers over my head. MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE GOD JUST MAKE THIS ELECTION COME TO AN END. Everywhere I turn online it seems like people are joking (but serious) about drinking their way through this election season. (Side note: can it be considered a season if it lasts for years?) In fact, after the first presidential debate, I’ve seen at least six articles with fun “Debate Drinking Games” and “The Best Bars to Go Watch the Debate” and satirical warnings that if you drink every time a candidate lies, you’ll put yourself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.

I have to be honest, alcohol poisoning sounds great right about now.

Like most people (I think, I hope) I want peace. I don't see how we can get there. I certainly don't see any of the discourse that's occurring right now getting us any closer. The election has become a zero sum game where if you like Trump you're an ignorant, racist, misogynist and if you vote for Hillary you're part of the corrupt establishment. I don't think anything is that simple—and we feel more divided than ever before as a country, hell, as a species.

At almost three years sober, I've come to realize that a large part of the reason I drank, and in particular smoked weed from the minute I woke up for almost 20 years, was because I have a hard time facing reality—not just my own reality, but also the reality of the globe and its citizens. I call it the “Oh the humanity!!!” excuse. I want to TUNE IT ALL OUT. I basically blacked out post 9/11 and didn't come to until 2005. When I did, I was married, miserable and had completely given up on society and myself. It was a long crawl back to some semblance of normal from that particular rock bottom, and I chose to use a combination of yoga and the “marijuana maintenance program” as my primary method of recovery. Needless to say, that didn’t work and I finally got sober sober in 2013.

I went home a couple of weeks ago. While I was at dinner, politics came up and I just assumed everyone was on the same page. So when my relative said, "I'm voting for [INSERT NAME OF WHOEVER YOU THINK IS AWFUL]” I laughed. My relative has a deadpan sense of humor, but when he continued to stare at me I realized, "Oh shit, you're serious!"

These aren't stupid people. My relatives have their reasons for wanting to vote for [INSERT NAME OF WHOEVER WILL DRIVE YOU TO DRINK]. Ultimately, I think it's their disdain for [INSERT NAME OF OTHER CANDIDATE YOU ARE BLAMING FOR THE END OF TIMES] and globalization that drives it—but still—a "fuck you" vote is still a vote. I don't want to engage in political discussions with anyone because I see it dividing families, lovers and our nation. The stupidity on both sides is disgusting virtue signaling. I don't support racism, bigotry and misogyny—all things that are alive and well in our country and the world—but I also don't support writing off "the other side" as just a bunch of morons. I struggle to see both perspectives. Most of the time, even though it manifests as hatred, people are reacting to fear. Ignorance isn't always bliss. A lot of the time, ignorance is war. And I know a thing or two about making decisions based in fear and being at war with myself.

Every time I fly I think, "Am I going to be pissed I didn't drink if my plane goes down?" I really don't want to get into a car accident and be sitting, pinned to my seat by my steering wheel, waiting for the jaws of death that will inevitably arrive too late and have my last thought be, "Damn, I wish I had spent the last three years drinking." I know it sounds ridiculous—but at moments when I feel weak, when I feel like it's all fruitless and I'm helpless to change anything, the idea that something so petty could be my last thought, that I could die cursing the day I quit drinking, terrifies me. (It also makes me realize what an alcoholic to the marrow of my bone I truly am.)

Lately it’s been, “Am I going to make it through this election, sober? Is it even worth it? Or should I just join the country at what I perceive to be a national rock bottom?” I feel like no matter who wins, this election has been a loss for us all. We've devolved to mud-slinging, pandering, black-and-white thinking.

This is about the time when the internal dialogue hops on a runaway train of thought. When I start asking, "WHAT'S IT ALL FOR???” I know I'm in dangerous territory. This is the train of thought that stops at stations like, "NONE OF THIS MATTERS" and "FUCK EVERYTHING" and "WE'RE FUCKED." Destination: NIHILISM. This is a train to nowhere for me, and the minute I recognize I've jumped on, I need to find my way off.


Ultimately, I'm no good to anyone on that train. Even if it’s all absolutely true: that none of this matters, that my vote doesn’t matter, that whoever is the next president doesn’t matter because we’re all slaves to the 1%, that we're fucked and humanity has already signed its suicide note—and now we are just waiting for the cyanide to kick in—I strive to be part of the solution.

Because these moments give me the gift of realizing what I am capable of changing: MYSELF. And when I’m drinking, I’m a part of the problem, even if it’s just adding more negative thinking to a terrified population. Maybe I can’t save the world, but I can AND HAVE changed my habits and my mentality drastically for the better. Today I feel that my daily perspective is much less about me and much more about how I can be of service to the world.

All of that starts with not picking up a drink. No matter who gets elected. No matter who dies. No matter if my plane goes down or I get hit by a drunk driver. No matter what. Me drinking helps nothing and no one. It gets me no closer to being a part of the solution. That starts with getting out of my own way and hopping on the only train of thought I should be riding anymore:


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Bridget Phetasy is a writer, comedian and “verified nobody” living in Los Angeles. She can be found on Twitter.