I guess I should get one thing straight immediately; I haven’t quit drinking. Not even close. My habitual booze habits have done nothing if not steadily increase as the years of my adult life have been knocked back, one jigger at a time.
But I’ve recently seen a lot of articles and blogs being shared around that have gotten me thinking. Stories from people who have given up their hard drinking ways, and the inspiring recounts of how much their lives have changed for the better. And so I sit here, glassy-eyed and unable to distinguish whether I need to throw up or sneeze twelve times in a row but confident I’ll pee unchecked if I do either, and I wonder, why not me?
And that’s led me to this point. A year from now I could be telling the world my interminable story of sobriety that no one really wants to hear but everyone has to pretend to show support for. A little glimpse into my teetotaling future that will lend me support when I’m tempted and will, most importantly, get me guilt-driven Facebook likes. If you’ll indulge me here, like I indulged the other night in half a bottle of vermouth with orange peel twists because I ran out of gin, imagine for a moment it’s one year in the future.
A year without drinking a drop of alcohol. Wow. That’s a long time sober. Who would’ve thought I could have made it this far? Certainly I had my doubts. Probably more than anyone. But here I stand, a breathing testament to willpower and committment. A heavily laboured breathing testament, to be sure, but that’s only because of the gross amount of weight I’ve put on in the last year from swapping my compulsion to drink and socialize with one to eat my feelings away while shut from the outside world in a curtained apartment. The feelings I had previously banished through a level of liquor consumption which could bring shame to a family name.
So, let’s take a look at some of the ways my life has improved since I decided to quit the bottle. First of all, the obvious one: no more hangovers. I used to view hangovers as this inevitable part of life, the flip side of the coin that I would have to deal with to keep living the wild party lifestyle I thought I needed. Headaches and nausea in the mornings are a thing of the past, though, and now my hours upon waking are filled with good old fashioned crippling anxiety, depression, and a healthy terror of interacting with anyone outside my bedroom door.
Speaking of interacting with people, the change in my relationships in the last year has been marked. At work I’ve noticed a shift in my co-workers’ behaviour toward a much more cool and detached attitude, which I attribute to my newfound focus on professionalism. Though I’m starting to think my visible shaking and inability to make eye contact or hold a conversation without fighting back tears might have a little bit to do with it. One big plus is the recent friendship that’s struck up between me and my HR representative at our weekly mandatory case meetings, which began only a few short weeks after I stopped drinking.
Family engagements have changed drastically, too. Without the hazy cloud of alcohol, I’m able to really connect with my relatives in a way I’ve never been able to before. Never have the innumerable nuances that my uncle Marty so painstakingly details about his job at the car rental outlet been so vivid to me. The holidays are no longer just an excuse to get tipsy in celebration, but a time to reflect on what’s important and find new ways of winning internal struggles with thoughts of suicide.
And let’s not ignore the impact that this has all had on my romantic life. Dating used to be a heady blur of glasses of wine gulped back to calm fluttering nerves, flushed faces and dreamy eyes longing from across a table in candlelight exchanging naughty secrets. Now it’s much more straightforward and efficient. Dates are a lot quicker. Usually within the first ten minutes I’ve abruptly blurted out any and every embarrassing secret or story that pops into my head, and then I can’t think of anything to say for the rest of the evening except to constantly have my date reassure me that she’s having a good time. Often these dates end with her excusing herself to use the restroom and then leaving having paid the bill for both of us because she’s either afraid of or for me. It’s for the best, though, because without the calming warmth of a few glasses of scotch or cognac I would probably be too nervous to get an erection anyway.
One year. It’s amazing how much can change in such a short period of time. Maybe this has even inspired some people out there to start their own journey. I hope you can look to my story for strength, like I’ll look to it myself, whenever you feel like the urge is too strong. Yes, it’s truly incredible what the human spirit can accomplish when we set out to do something, and the first step begins now.
Well, like, soon probably. I mean, I’m going to have another few drinks today, but we’ll see tomorrow. Oh, wait, I’ve got that thing tomorrow night. Well, sometime next week for sure. Or by the end of the month. Though, there’s a lot going on this summer. Maybe if I just try to cut down on the amount I drink. That’ll probably work, right? Like, I don’t need to quit entirely, the point is I could quit whenever.
Photo by Travis S. via Flickr