Things About (not) Drinking

I decided to give up drinking (alcohol) for three months, just to see what life was like without it. I learned a lot in those three months. All 42 days of it.

OK, so I didn’t make it three months (does this indicate a problem?). But 42 days has to earn me some street cred with the teetotalers out there, right? In case you’re curious to know the Deep and Meaningful things that I learned while I was beerless, wineless whiskyless and ginless for a few weeks, well, I will tell you, but first let me tell you WHY.

I didn’t really learn about drinking until I was in my mid-to-late twenties and dealing with something of a crisis of the soul and pocketbook and home and life in general. Drinking was one of the only things, for a few years, that provided snapshots of “happiness” in an otherwise pretty upsetting world. Without going into sordid details, the other things that made me happy were my kids being silly, trips to the zoo, the advent of text messaging and the original iPhone.

It took me several years, as it does most people when learning to drink, to figure out my limits and at which point alcohol took over all of the decision making capacities in my life. Of course at the time, if alcohol wasn’t deciding then it was usually some cruel version of fate calling the shots, so in many cases I was happy to let booze take over. As I learned to bridle my drink, I also learned to manipulate the cruel hand of fate and start calling the shots for myself, and quit being a sorry excuse for a pile of victimized mush.

Since then, I have learned to enjoy wine on most nights, beer on some, whisky and gin on the certain days that just call for whiskey and gin. For the most part, drinking and decision making have long since parted ways, except for the occasional karaoke song choice or making new best friends at the bar whose names I can’t remember the next day.

I am not against drinking and I appreciate that it takes the suck out of life sometimes, just by sanding off the pointy edges of days and people and things. But I decided to take a break for a few reasons, including a body that keeps getting older and breaking without my permission, a lot of Big Things happening in my life and Decisions To Be Made and Plans To Be Developed, and also I was curious to know how much life sucked without a drink here and there.

Here’s what I learned: it sucks a lot.

But it’s also beautiful. All those sharp edges that get sanded off can be good every once in awhile for pointing out little things that need to be fixed.

I was also curious if I would make No Bad Choices while I wasn’t drinking, but lying in the hot sun for 5 hours one day with no sunblock, wearing an ill-advised bikini, proved that bad choices can be made even without the help of a drink. Sometimes people (i.e. me) are still dumb, and in this case, still peeling. I also found myself reciting Uncle Remus stories, sans alchohol, so there’s really no excuse for my behavior.

What I missed the most in 42 days was a glass of wine at the end of the day in sweatpants on the couch, shower beers and that lazy, happy smile about life after a couple of drinks. What I didn’t miss the most in 42 days was the draggy fuzz of mornings after I didn’t stop at one glass, or two glasses but felt compelled to finish the whole bottle so as not to let it go bad.

Ultimately, I learned that I don’t need to drink (alcohol) to get through, or even enjoy life. But even Jesus knew what a drag a party is without a little something in your glass (water-into-wine, y'all?), and I am grateful for the privilege of being able to enjoy the miracle of science that is fermentation, in all it’s variety.

purpose is everything. 

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