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Straight Edge Reflections

Originally Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Written by: Amy Sciarretto

My Respect for the Straight Edge Movement

I have nothing but respect for the straight edge movement. And not because it is a lifestyle that I lived according to for roughly five years. I respect it because of what it is for others as well as for myself.

Challenging Conventional Wisdom

Yes, I know the conventional wisdom says that if you’re not now, you never were, but I don’t subscribe to that logic in ANY facet of life as I know it. That’s like saying, “If I don’t love you now, I never did.” Come on. How many people have you dated that you loved at the time, but then just fell out of love with? You don’t go back and erase that time together. You continue to cherish it. How many friends did you grow up with and swear that nothing would ever tear you apart, yet today, you don’t speak to them only because you grew apart, grew up and changed? That doesn’t mean that those seventh grade oaths didn’t mean anything. Because you know, at the time, they were real and tangible as the nose on your face. They were thicker than blood, too. So, to say that because things change that they erase or abominate the past, is silly, to me. That’s just not how it works. That’s now how it worked for me and my sXe lifestyle. I once was, but am no longer. But I consider that period of my life to be some of my most productive, most clear-headed years. And it helped keep me alive.

The Positive Impact of the sXe Lifestyle

The sXe lifestyle worked for me, and in many ways, helped keep me focused, healthy, and alive. As someone who has a tendency to overindulge and take things to the extreme and the limit –it’s just my personality- the straight edge lifestyle was something that balanced me, kept me tempered, and kept me sane. It prevented me from going down dangerous roads that I knew I was headed down. But it also was further proof that I do things the extreme. Rather than trying to be moderate, I had to swing completely to the other side, and not drink at all. In the end, I realized that I didn’t want to be so rigid in anything in life.

Breaking Free from Destructive Habits

I used to drink my ass of from the ages of 12 through 18 years old, and I did several hard drugs (cocaine being one of them) and it often made me physically sick. I liked the way I felt while I was drunk, but didn’t like the way I felt afterwards. As I got older, it lost its novelty and fun. More importantly, I started to dislike being out of control, and hearing about my actions the next day, actions I did not remember because I was too wasted. I didn’t like hearing that I made out with Nick in front of a room full of people. I didn’t like that it was his girlfriend who was calling me to tell me what I did with her boyfriend. I didn’t like what drinking made me do. In my teenaged, not-as-smart-as-I-thought-I-was head, I thought I was drinking away the misery, but I was really making more of it. While I have always felt that I can never truly be in control of my heart, my passions, and my thoughts, regardless of whether I was drunk or sober, I realized that I wanted to approach the heart, passions, and thoughts more clearly and experience them fully, not through the aid of drinks.

Discovering the sXe Movement

I decided to take control of my life, be healthy, and be mentally strong, focused, and not under the influence. I had to get away from what was destroying me. I found the sXe movement through the music that I loved – hardcore. I believed the lyrics of the bands that sang about it. I believed in the cultural movement, and what people like Ray Cappo of Shelter (Youth Of Today, too) was saying. I read books. I talked to people at shows. I liked what they were saying, and when I adopted the lifestyle, I loved how I felt.

Avoiding Preaching and Fostering Positivity

But I did not preach. I was doing what was best for me. I encountered militants at shows who would scream the doctrine in people’s faces, especially people who were also doing their own thing, which included drinking and doing drugs, and to me, that’s just so counterproductive. Plus, you shouldn’t judge others for doing what they want if you don’t want others to judge you for doing what you want to do.

A Positive Approach to Change

Revolution and change, and cultural movements, shouldn’t be forced but should be battles that are hard fought and won. The way I was introduced to the lifestyle was a positive, healthy way. I read song lyrics. I read interviews with sXe band members, since the Internet was not what it is now at that time. I saw how this lifestyle was improving and helping them, and decided to adopt it, as well. I was won over. I was also won over by the commitment and camaraderie other people like me had for a lifestyle we shared. We were able to talk in between bands at shows about why we chose the life we chose, why it worked for us, and we learned from each other. To me, that’s what life is about. Discovering yourself and others through music and counter culture.

Embracing Sobriety in College

In college, all of my friends were partying. I went to the parties, and had fun, but I chose not to drink. I didn’t want to. I wanted to soak in people and conversations that I was having, and I didn’t want to depend on alcohol to make me feel better. I endured plenty of questions from my friends about why I didn’t “try” a drink. Funny, I drank so much in high school that it made me not want to drink when I got older. My experiences were so extreme. I can still remember the burn in my throat from the hard liquor. I also drank almost a bottle of tequila at age 14, and was so drunk that I threw up, and was lying in a hot, humid room. I puked violently and I passed out, and woke up 2 hours later, in a pool of sweat. In order to cool off, I reached for the only cool thing in the room (the puke) and smeared it on myself to cool down. I never ever wanted to be that out of control and close to death again. So, when people would treat me like I had never tried a drink before because I chose not to drink, I would start talking to them rather authoritatively about my lifestyle, and why it made me stronger and better than I had ever been. Sometimes, I would get so agitated that I would think it made me stronger and better than them because I had the resolve and the commitment and self-control to not indulge. But I never got strident. I had nothing to prove to anyone.

Transitioning from sXe to a More Flexible Approac

As I said, I didn’t preach. I didn’t think it was ‘dulling the edge’ to take codeine for the pain I endured after having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted at the same time. While awake. I challenge anyone to endure that pain and not take a pain killer. I also have had severe, chronic stomach issues for most of my adult life. So I take medicine for it. Yes, I was actually questioned by someone who is sXe about these medical issues. That was when I knew I wouldn’t call myself ‘straight edge’ anymore, despite still adhering to the lifestyle’s basic tenets. I wanted to do what was best for me, and didn’t need to advertise it. Instead of saying “I’m straight edge,” I would say, “I don’t drink.” I continued to live the lifestyle. Without the label. No, a few extremists querying me wasn’t what made me make that choice. Just like no one made me make the choice to become straight edge. I did what was best for Amy. By the time I was 23 years old, I felt I no longer needed to adhere to something so rigidly. It was extremely hard to let go of something that was a part of my identity – I was nicknamed “Amy sXe” and that was one of my on air radio names in college. It was very important to me at a particular time in my life, and I look back at it fondly.

Embracing Change and Moderation

Eventually, things happened and I realized that I could have self-control and do things in moderation without completely abstaining. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to adhere to something so rigidly. That if I wanted to get drunk and be silly and forget a shitty day, that it was an option. I learned that I could bend without breaking. And I decided to not be straight edge at all. It wasn’t something that I woke up one day and decided. I didn’t spring outta bed and say, ‘I am going to drink today.’ Sorry for the let down, but it was much less glamorous. I went to a bar, hung out with my friend, and he bought me a shot. And I did it. I enjoyed it. I only did one. I loosened up, and I enjoyed it.

The Balanced Approach to Alcohol

I do drink now. But not every day. Drugs – not really my forte. I never smoked. Ever. Never will. But I drink when and if I want to. For whatever reasons move me to do it at that precise moment. Sometimes I want to experience an altered state of consciousness that a buzz can give me. I enjoyed drinking beers and buzzing with my last boyfriend, Matt F. It loosened us both up to open up, and I enjoyed conversing with him and teasing him when he was a little buzzed up. It was part of his charm, you know? He was such a cute little drunk. He wasn’t some wasted mongoloid who couldn’t make a sentence, but a cute charming boy who said these sweet things to me when he was drunk, because it enabled him to open up and be uninhibited and say things that may have been hard or intimidating to say to me when sober. Alcohol has its benefits, sometimes.

An Ever-Evolving Lifestyle

Really, it all depends on what I want to do and when. If I am sad and want to just drown my sorrows, or because I am at a party and want to let loose, I drink. If I am bored and want to entertain myself, I might drink a bit. Or I might write some magazine articles. It’s all dependent upon my mood. Sometimes I don’t want to get drunk and I don’t drink at a social gathering. It all depends on my mood that day. Whatever the case, just because I’m not now, doesn’t mean I never was. I’m just not any longer. That said, I still have the utmost respect for the cultural movement, and the people in it. Change can be enacted, if everyone stays positive. Change is a fact of life, and I change in this aspect. In other aspects of my life, I never changed. I am still the same. So I know that many people out there that were straight edge still are and will be till their dying day, and I have nothing but respect for them and their decisions.

An Unwavering Love for the Movement

And while I am sure some people may read this and think I lost strength or gave up, or “sold out.” That’s fine. I am confident and secure in my decisions and what I do in my life. I still love the movement. I do not hide the fact that I once was. The music is still the main thing for me. I still went to see Earth Crisis play. Still loved what they were trying to do. Throwdown is one of my favorite bands. I still love the bands. I still go see them. I still spend much of my life writing about them. I’m still down for the cause. –Amy Sciarretto

My email: [email protected]

(Also, I write for Revolver, CMJ, Metal Maniacs, Hit Parader, Chord, Aquarian Weekly, Mean Street, and have written for Kerrang, Guitar World, spin.com, lambgoat.com, VH1.com)

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