In vino veritas . Translation: in wine, truth. The idea behind it is simple: that in drinking alcohol, your inhibitions take a much needed holiday and are replaced by an extraverted, oversharing version of yourself. Or at least, that is what happens to me.
I become a lot more open when I’m drunk. I talk to more people. I tell them anything and everything they’d like to know about me. Shame and pride fall to ruin and are replaced by an easy-going nature I find myself chasing to no avail in sobriety. At some point in the night, however, I become a lot more nihilistic and self-aware, which I’ll explore in a bit. But for a few solid hours, I am rid of those persistent beasts – anxiety and self-loathing – that seem to crop up every chance they get. I become close to the kind of person I wish I was naturally . It’s not so much that a drink or two makes me stop caring in the same way I do when I’m sober – rather, I am more at peace with who I am currently, instead of caught up in who I hope to become. And this is a dangerous sort of thing to realise. The freedom that excessive drinking grants me is tempting but wholly unsustainable as a means to achieve it (so long as hope to maintain a healthy liver, that is, and I’m not willing to walk the path of alcoholism just yet). However, I find this revelation exposing of a number of my behaviours.
In some of my earlier articles, I’ve touched on the fact that a lot of my depression and anxiety is related to my identity and how I express that identity physically. Although this goes into a range of areas (I’d love to express myself through fashion that I can’t afford/am too scared to wear), for the purposes of this article I want to focus on my current perspective of relationships. My last article saw me downloading Tinder and jumping back into the dating game, eventually coming to the conclusion that there are, perhaps, underlying issues that are preventing me from actively pursuing a relationship. I find it incredibly difficult to separate an internalised anxiety that I will not be accepted as a trans man in any relationship from actively not feeling the desire to be in one. For clarification, I currently have 0 sex drive. For someone going through the hormonal equivalent of a teenage boy’s puberty, this is highly irregular. But is it related to depression and anxiety, or is it simply, at this point in time, not something I find myself wanting?
Enter alcohol. Where sobriety has me believing a physical relationship is off the table until the man in the mirror is exactly who I want to be, the intoxicated version of myself suggests this is not the case. I find this ironic because I know excessive consumption of alcohol is only going to prevent me from reaching my physical aesthetic goals – but being able to experience a sliver of a carefree attitude is something I’m willing to indulge in. Part of me wonders if, in some ways, if drinking in social settings is a placebo for me to remove the emotional reticence that has become a characteristic of mine. There is no doubt that drinking aids in extraversion, but are my feelings of body acceptance genuine? The fact that my nihilism almost always surfaces towards the end of a night of drinking suggests not. So why, then, am I able to put my social inhibitions aside when I drink?
The term “liquid courage” might apply here. When I drink, I am willing and open to physical relationships. I kiss people. I let them touch me. I engage in typically ‘normal’ behaviour for those who are comfortable with their sexuality. Yet it is always fleeting. Inevitably, my insecurities find a way to undermine those feelings of comfortableness. It is very rare on a night of drinking that I wake up not regretting some aspect of the night before. Perhaps I shared too much emotional baggage, or sang ten consecutive songs from the Hamilton soundtrack in front of a group of unimpressed friends. Oddly, but to my satisfaction, those rare occasions I allow myself to be open to physical encounters, I have yet to regret. Thankfully. This tells me so much about how I view myself, and how negatively my mental health can affect so many aspects of my life.
I have tried ignoring it. So far this week I’ve had a number of well-meaning friends and family ask me how I am. The words are spoken like they’re chocolate covered needles, like if they ask me outright my entire world will pop, so they need a sweet exterior to soften the impact. It’s not their fault, of course. It’s not mine either, but it’s important to be aware of how much of my mind impacts my life.
Alcohol might grant me the illusion of confidence and a laid-back attitude, but it’s like experiencing life through foggy glass. The interactions are somehow less pure, less genuine, and obviously less memorable, given they’re all completed under the haze alcohol grants you. Drunkenness is so often used to excuse certain behaviours that it can’t be used to purposefully experience others. In my case, I can’t rely on alcohol to live my life.
What I’ve learnt is that drinking allows me to voice my issues more freely and brazenly, which may on occasion dampen the mood at parties, but is invaluable in helping me have these revelations that prompt a reevaluation about how I’m behaving, and why. It is important to keep myself open to relationships of all kinds because isolating myself from expected human activity is a surefire way to prevent growth entirely. Slowly eliminating the deep-rooted issues in my mind are the way forward, but I’m not under any illusions that this change will happen quickly or easily. Indeed, one thing that becomes truer by the minute is a different sort of saying from my opener: patience is a virtue.