I generally don’t find it helpful to dwell on bad things that are in the past. It’s healthy to let go, to move forward, right? I don’t care to wallow in negativity about something I can’t change.
That said, I think a little crappy reminiscing can be helpful in this process. Lately my thoughts have been about where my actions lead me in relation to where I want to be.
When I think about drinking, too often I think of a pretty glass of wine at a special meal or a frosty pint at a cozy pub. It’s the first glass or two that I imagine will make some moment more perfect. And even if it goes a little farther than that, surely it’ll all be in good fun.
The reality might start with a little sparkle but more likely I’d be admiring my first glass in the early afternoon light of a weekday. Here is the not-uncommon ending I would do well to remember: my elbows on the toilet seat at 3am (again: weekday), rocking on my heels with my head in my hands, wondering if I’m going to throw up and if I can do it quietly. I’m sweaty and too ashamed to look my cat in the eye, never mind the the two people I love the most … who are asleep in rooms on either side of the bathroom where I’m tearfully vowing not to end up in this position again.
I wrote in a journal a decade ago—already aware on some level that my drinking was not particularly healthy—I touch glass most often. Bottles, glasses, cold and smooth. Held by my hands, protected, replenished. Did the payoff ever match the cost? It’s long past time for me to stop investing in my own destruction.
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I haven’t been counting days, but I think I’m at around 30. I’m seeing this as more of my new normal, just the way I live. Something about counting was throwing me off. I looooved it on my first go-round and found good motivation in not breaking my streak. I think the difference is that at that point, I was trying to prove that I could do it. No cheating, pure willpower, ta-da, I did it! And once I had proven that, I felt a bit like I could just do whatever I wanted again. The count-up was kind of feeling like a countdown to a drinking decision. But I’ve made the decision, I know the answer. Drinking is not good for me, it’s not good for my body, it’s not good for my family, it’s not good for my wallet. I have seen that I can live very happily without drinking, and I just need to relax and do it.
There are other things I abstain from for health or ethical reasons, but I don’t keep track of when I last consumed this or that, or how many days I’ve been without. I guess with those things, any ‘sacrifice’ doesn’t feel like one because I’m confident and comfortable in the benefits of those choices. I really did like counting days last time, so maybe I’ve just used that tool, it got me where I need to be, and now different tools will keep me going.
I had some challenging moments after accepting an invite to a friend’s going-away party. It was at a brewery … on karaoke night … and they didn’t serve food. I was determined to get over myself and show up for my friend, but I felt very uneasy about it. (And even as a drinker, I would’ve been nervous about karaoke peer-pressure!) The day of, I was still debating whether or not this was a good idea. I even went on their yelp page and looked through user photos of the place.
I just couldn’t picture myself there. I couldn’t see myself adding anything good to the evening as a sober person tempted to drink, without even a meal to distract me, and not particularly wanting to sing in front of people. I couldn’t see myself adding anything good to my life by drinking and “going with the flow” and doing something stupid. (Is there even an amount of alcohol where the ability to do karaoke and the ability to drive can coexist?)
So, I bailed. I sent a vague “sorry, can’t make it” excuse two hours before we were supposed to meet. Someone else had to cancel too, and I felt like a jerk friend contributing to a poor showing at our friend’s last hurrah (three others did make it). But it was the right thing to do. I thought about what was really going to matter, in two weeks, two months, two years. This wasn’t a super close friend, though I do care about her. But this is my life. I have to say “yes” to me, and protect the good life that I’m growing. It’s not even just about me. My choices ripple out from me to affect my loved ones, and J and M are far more affected by my well-being than a friend with her own full life. She’ll be ok. It was the right call.
I have more things on my mind, but this is long enough for now. Happy September. 🙂