Three years of being boring, kind of
I had my last drink at the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam on August 25th, 2015. I was with my brother-in-law, Ryan. He Tindered a lot on the trip but that’s fine, he’s single and perhaps hoped to find a European bride. He didn’t find one but we almost got beat up by a gang of British teenagers so he did have action of some variety.
In a couple of days I will have spent three years completely clean: not a sip of alcohol, no prescription drugs, no other drugs. Just a legitimate caffeine addiction and ibuprofen every now and then. This is by far the longest I’ve gone without drinking since I was 15. I did paint my fence over the summer with some rust-blocking paint and I think I got a little bit stoned, but I don’t count that.
Can you imagine?
I don’t think I am an alcoholic, but I love(d) to drink
I’m too good at it. I can have a ton of drinks. It’s really one of my greatest skills. The unfortunate part about that skill is it never, ever, ever has positive outcomes for people like me. I don’t have 2 cocktails and a great evening of conversation at a party. I have 2 cocktails and then 4 beers and then 4 cocktails and I wake up on the kitchen floor of my friend Chris’ apartment.
I would have fun nights out with the boys, do something stupid or lose something important or lock myself out and in the morning I’d feel like an asshole. Both from the hangover and the emotional guilt — getting wasted was wasting me. Pickling my liver was putting me in pickle. And other plays on words.
So, I thought, “This is a great end to a great run of boozing and acting a fool, maybe I’ll try to be sober for a while.” And I realized then that I loved being the best version of me way more than I loved being the life of the party. I loved waking up early and feeling great more than I loved standing up on a table and giving impromptu standup to my friends in a bar. I definitely loved watching people do karaoke a hell of a lot more than being booed off stage at karaoke.
Since then I’ve improved, I think
I got my writing published locally. I got a new job and promoted a couple of times. I had a kid. I bought a house. I paid off my car. I paid down all my debts (before the house, of course). I put some money in the bank, and some in the market. I made a few dollars. I read a dozens and dozens of books. I got in shape, I lost weight. I stopped losing friends to saying and doing dumb shit.
One thing that I think has changed the most for me is the amount of time I can spend thinking. I am the kind of person who when they start drinking, Party Mode takes over and I lose the ability to retain any good information. I just go with the flow, go with the convo, etc. In the moment, I’m a hero. I’m a God. Afterwards, though, I think about the 4 hours I lost to oblivion.
Right now, I never lose any hours unless I decide to lose them on purpose with things like a nap, a magazine, Twitter, etc.
I said that I was about to spend 3 years being boring, and I’m sure me 3.5 years ago would agree with that. Why quit? Drinking is a hell of a good time, and it’s the best way to spend time with your friends outside of work. But, actually, it’s not. It sucks. Best case scenario, you net out even and nothing happens. Worst case scenario, something tragic happens to you. What’s the point?
My 20’s were a whirlwind of partying, working my ass off, trying to figure my shit out, getting married, and otherwise running amok. My 30’s have been much more productive. I’m happy with that so far.
In any case — if you feel like you have a drinking problem and you need help, talk to a friend (preferably a sober one). One thing that helped me at first was just cold-turkey avoiding situations where drinking was the theme. Happy hours, cocktail parties, keggers, you name it. I stayed home. Try that.