“How many drinks do you have in a week?”
That was my answer to a nurse who was pre-registering me for an endoscopy later this week.
That’s right, I’ve quit drinking again. But this time it is different. Last time, I was proving a point. I was proving to myself (and perhaps to my wife) that I was under control. That I could control how much alcohol I drank. I made it the whole year.
I proved my point.
And quickly started losing control again. Within a few weeks of resuming consumption, I was back to my pre-break levels. It was a rare night when I had nothing to drink.
I rationalized my behavior: work was stressful, home was stressful. I just needed it to help me wind down in the evening. Or help me fall asleep. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t that bad–I wasn’t drunk at work; I didn’t drink during the day; my kids don’t notice.
And then my kids noticed that I was ‘buzzed’ one evening when I’d been pouring the vodka just a bit heavy. And I hated my job. And I avoided my wife. I got out of bed one morning but couldn’t bring myself to leave the couch to go to work. I had successfully hit, what was for me, rock bottom. Really, it was just kinda muddy-sticky-hard-to-get-up-from bottom, and also kinda comfy and satisfying in a ‘woe is me’ sort of way. And that’s when I realized I had to quit.
Not for a month.
Not for a year.
I can’t handle alcohol long term. It is too alluring. Too fun. Too easy. Too tasty. Too numbing. And too deadening.
So rather than wait a long time and tell people slowly and shyly, and in hushed tones, I’m just coming out with it. I’ve quit drinking. For good.
In contrast to the last time, since I’ve quit, I’m not hyper-analyzing my decision. I guess I’ve “been there, done that.” Now, the decision is actually much easier. There is no end goal. There is no “Can I make it?” There is only “This is who I am now.” Kinda like changing a job. Or having your first child. Or getting married. These things happen and change our personal identities, and there is no analysis of “how long will I have to do this”.
Similar to last time, the presence of alcohol doesn’t bug me. Seriously. Not at all. I still have left-over beer in the house primarily because I don’t want to just waste it. I’d rather give it to someone who can handle it. So, if you and I have been friends, and alcohol has been part of our relationship, that part is gone for me. You can still drink with me. I’ll happily be your designated driver, and I’ll still have a great time. I’ll still shoot bands in bars. I still want us to be friends.