Ernest Hemingway once said, “Always do sober what you would do when you are drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
That quote has always stood out to me. Not the exact words of it, but the antithesis of the statement. To me I interpret it to mean, “Never do something drunk that you wouldn’t do sober.”
I’m not a saint by any stretch of the imagination. I have made questionable decisions and spoke words I regretted later while under the influence of alcohol.
It is because my inhibitions were lowered and my guard was down. Many of the choices of actions and words I spoke caused damage to myself and relationships I have had with people. Some were willing to overlook my transgressions during my not-so finest moments, and others were not.
The cold hard truth of the matter is while we may regret our actions and/or the words we speak after a few cocktails, there is truth in all of our actions.
Alcohol simply gives us the excuse to vent our frustrations or act upon an urge that we have thought about and controlled. Rarely is any action or conversation had under the influence random or spur of the moment, we take advantage of the assumption that people will “understand” we are intoxicated and aren’t acting like we normally do.
However we are still always accountable for our actions and our words.
Having a few drinks and blowing off some steam certainly does not always lead to drama, in most case it simply leads to harmless fun. It’s the extreme cases that create the intense moments where relationships and the way people view us can be changed forever.
There are many actions that people do when we have had too much to drink that can not only change the course of our relationships with others, but also alter the course of our lives tremendously. These are the five I feel we should attempt to avoid at all costs:
1. Attempting to have a deep meaningful conversation. The idea of a deep and meaningful conversation is typically not unforgivable or inexcusable, but often the results will be. We speak without thinking. We speak without a filter. We are less likely to accept or use any reasoning skills. When we are under the influence, we want to feel in control. If our deep meaningful conversation begins to spiral out of control, or we hear words we do not wish to hear, we over react. The over reaction leads to harsh words and brutal truths. Not just from the one under the influence, but the one who is hearing the words and responding. The conversation soon becomes a tornado and begins to destroy everything built up to that moment and everything in its path. There is a better time and place to have a deep meaningful conversation than anywhere where mass alcohol is being consumed.
2. Never end a relationship when drunk. Whether we have our doubts or not, ending a relationship when alcohol is involved is terrible form. Let’s assume both possibilities: (a) We have our doubts, however we use the excuse to break up during this time of lowered inhibitions. What if we wake up the next day and regret our decision? We certainly weren’t thinking clearly and our partner is less likely to accept us back. This has happened to me. If we have our doubts, let them play out sober. Even if the relationship ends, at least we can try to end it on honorable terms. (b) We are too drunk to make any rational decision. We don’t really want to break up, we are just drunk and want attention. So we seek it in the most extreme manner possible. Even if we are fortunate to be forgiven, this can create resentment later in the relationship.
3. Never tell anyone you love them for the first time under the influence. Oh what a mess this can lead to. First and foremost, if she or he doesn’t love you back, you just created awkward tension and most likely lost a friend in the process. It creates embarrassment not only for the person who said it, but the person who heard it. Things between two people are never the same after those three words are said. If it is reciprocated, then it normally leads to a beautiful relationship. If rejected, it leads to heartbreak, which again can potentially lead us to further spiral out of control like a tornado destroying everything in our path. I have never once seen or known of anyone who liked to be told for the first time someone was in love with them after a half bottle of vodka. On the other hand, if love is expressed to someone by someone who has had a few too many, they may accept the love with open arms. If we change our mind the next day because we may have felt caught up in the moment, we run the risk of breaking someone’s heart. Only say it if you mean it. If you mean it, say it so there can be no doubt or risk of miscommunications or broken hearts.
4. Entering in to any type of long term commitment. This can be a variety of things. The most obvious being a relationship. When we awake the next day not only are we unsure we want to be in this relationship, we begin to question whether they want to be in it too. Chances are if this happened, both parties had too much to drink. Other commitments such as agreeing to help someone move, fix a problem, home repairs, car repairs or any kind of favor can lead to problems. When we drink, we think we can do anything and everything. Sometimes we simply can’t fix a car, or do the repairs we promised or maybe we just don’t feel like helping someone move when we are hungover. Usually at the time we are happy to be the center of attention. However the next day when reality sets in we may realize we made ourselves sound more capable than we really are. Then we have to back out. Once we back out, we now just received the label of unreliable. This could have easily been avoided if we had all our senses.
5. Cheating on a partner/spouse. Perhaps the most unforgivable offense drunk or sober, being drunk can never be an excuse for infidelity. Unfortunately this happens often. For men, women tend to be more attracted to men who are “off the market.” The assumption being if some woman wants this man, than there must be some good qualities about this man. Men are more likely to cheat simply for the thrill of it and/or because the alcohol has lowered their control. It can be the same for women, but generally speaking it is a bit different. Women tend to step out on their partner or spouse if they are unhappy in some aspect of their relationship. It could be anything ranging from their partners emotional availability, general reliability or maybe they aren’t feeling fulfilled in the bedroom. Whatever the cause may be, once that trust is broken, it is nearly impossible to gain it back. I would argue it can can never 100 percent be gained back. A man or woman might forgive, but neither can forget. Again this can and normally leads to resentment later in the relationship and statistically speaking, once a person cheats once, they are exponentially more likely to do it again.
There certainly are other things we do when we are intoxicated that is unforgivable and inexcusable. Driving a car is an obvious one I left off the list. Perhaps the most dangerous of all consequences. Yet I consider this to be a crime and no crime committed under the influence of alcohol should be excused or forgotten. Placing your hands on someone in anger or hitting someone is unforgivable and inexcusable. I don’t care how much alcohol has been consumed, causing someone physical harm can never and should never be justified by the amount we or someone consumes.
I carefully choose not to say crimes committed can’t be forgiven because people pay the price for their crimes when they are caught. Crimes committed with alcohol involved I separate from this list.
These are personal acts done on to another and ones self that are questionable acts and should be avoided. The repercussions of these incidents make it difficult to be trusted. They also make it difficult to hold meaningful or plutonic relationships with people.
If people decide to excuse any of the actions, that is there personal choice. It is also the choice of those who commit these acts to be held accountable at the end of the day or night.
It’s much more enjoyable to consume alcohol responsibly and to have fun without feeling the need to create drama or be the center of attention. However always keep in mind, we are always accountable for all of our actions. We can still lower our guard and inhibitions and have fun, but let us do so without the risk of causing physical or emotional harm to another.
Author: Adam Wilkinson