I've never been an alcoholic.

It looks like this needs to be said, because I use alcoholism as my explanation for why we need to provide sober spaces in social activities. I play Melee, and many of our tournaments happen in bars - they're a comfortable venue. "But they have non-alcoholic drinks" is the usual answer I get when I point out that many of us aren't comfortable around alcohol.

I've never been an alcoholic. But alcohol has a huge symbolic. As a young adult, getting drunk was transgression, it was showing that I had strength and personality. It showed that I knew how to have fun, how to act in public.

Bad things happened to me while I was drunk. One of these times set me in a downward spiral and made me hate an entire country (which wasn't responsible, sorry Ireland) for over a year. Because every time I saw alcohol, I was disgusted, I was reminded of what had happened. And my friends enjoyed themselves, and they drank until they couldn't stop laughing because of their impaired brains. And I'd force myself to drink, and once I was drinking, it felt like the only way out was to drink more.

I've never been an alcoholic. And yet, if my friends are drinking, I feel the urge to drink with them. I hate the smell of alcohol. I hate its taste. I hate the way it messes with me and makes me feel weak and stupid. I hate voluntarily impairing my cognitive capacities. But my friends are all having a beer, so I'll have one too. When I was in university, they always made fun of me when I asked for tea, or for sparkling water, or for a virgin cocktail. So I drank.

I stopped drinking after one really bad weekend, about a year ago. Since then, I think I drank maybe 3 or 4 times, never more than a couple of glasses. Even these small quantities made me feel icky. It's not the drink, it's not being able to say "no" to something I don't want. I don't want to be the person who doesn't say "no" - I don't want to relive what I've gone through on that one drunken and foggy night, years ago. There are so many things I wish I would have said no to, and not being able to say "no" to a drink with my friends without feeling like I'll set myself apart from them is the ultimate vexation.

So now, I use the excuse of "but imagine there was a recovering addict".

But imagine they wouldn't want to go into a bar for a Melee tournament, not even one with alcohol-free choices.

I'm not an alcoholic. I never was. And yet, I can't stand to see alcohol and other thought-impairing substances. It makes me physically sick, because my choices are to not go and drift away from people and activities I enjoy, or go and drink and feel terrible about it, or go and spend my entire time there thinking about how I'm better than that and need to exercise restraint.

I never think about alcohol when there's none around. It's not just the alcoholics - it's everyone who needs to feel safe and comfortable to have fun. Let's provide sober spaces where we don't have to fight against a wish to enjoy ourselves - not only in gaming, but everywhere.

I'm not an alcoholic


My relationship to alcohol (and I'm *really* not an alcoholic), and a desperate plea for more sober spaces.

Comment lancer un groupe de soutien


Quelques types de groupes de soutien et des conseils pour que le groupe se porte bien une fois lancé.

Éviter le burnout dû à la générosité


Un tout petit résumé d'un article de la Harvard Business Review intitulé "Beat generosity burnout".

The charming naiveté of absolute scrubs


When someone discovers an activity or community, they may be misguided and aim for things that we know are impossible. What if we helped them with their naive goal instead of tearing the goal down from the start?

Meditation during COVID-19


In which I discuss how I've replaced my meditation routines with recess and fun, during COVID-19.

Are blogs over?


Thinking about how we can reinvent blogs and chronologically-ordered content.

La lectrice se met en scène sur Bookstagram


Un article court résumant en langage simple quelques éléments essentiels de la culture Bookstagram, tels qu'identifiés par Marine Siguier dans ses recherches.

Spotify and the bleak future of podcasting


In which I complain about how Spotify is destroying one of the last free places of the Internet.

How to break down a huge task


A detailed guide to breaking down your work where you don't know where to start.

Being the Smurfette


Remember the Smurfette, the lovely, pretty, only woman in a village of 99 Smurfs, that everyone's in love with? She also exists in gaming. But it's really not that nice of a position to be in.