looking forward (# 3)

On alcohol-free day 32, having completed my 30-day experiment, I decided to drink. My reunion with alcohol was enjoyable, in some ways, but it affirmed for me that not drinking is the best road for me, for the foreseeable future.

It was interesting to see the psychological effect participating in a 30-day not-drinking experiment had on me. I loved the 30 days, mostly. Felt great. Only rarely missed drinking. Had fun in a few alcohol-heavy situations without drinking myself. But thinking of the period as a finite 30 days followed by an option either to renew or to resume drinking definitely set me up to drink again. Just to see.

When I had the first Guinness while enjoying an outdoor concert on the evening of on day 32, it didn’t really affect me. I started feeling effects after half another. Then I was off to the races, and of course I did not stop there. I had several pours of bourbon, then made a conscious, but impaired choice to stop with the bourbon and have one more beer. I would have happily split yet one more beer with my husband but he graciously declined that offer. I went to sleep around 11:00 p.m. Woke at 5:00 a.m. with a headache. Oh . . . now I remember how much this sucks. . . . Took ibuprofen and went back to sleep until 7:30. Felt . . . not great, but could have been worse.

It was our last morning of vacation, and we had to pack the place up. That all went fine, until I realized I could not find my glasses. Got a bit frantic searching high and low and began to beat myself up for getting drunk enough to lose my glasses. Despite my lack of glasses, I could see quite keenly that all of this  chaos was a direct consequence of me drinking.

My glasses eventually materialized, nestled among some rocks on our little beach. Of course they did.

Practically speaking, I do not think there was anything wrong with drinking on one night of my vacation. No one (but  me) was harmed. Everything was fine, relatively speaking. That said, I could see how quickly my thirst flared up. How excited and determined I was to get drunk. It was unnecessary. I’ve been there and done that, and there are no surprises about any of it. I don’t feel sorry about my choice a few nights ago–it was clarifying–but I don’t want to repeat that choice again either.

I now know would have had just as much fun sober and not (almost) lost my glasses or had to pack up and drive home with a mild morning-after hangover.

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That same night, after arriving home, my husband and I went out to see Langhorne Slim play. Drinking was not on the menu. It would have been easy to say, “You already blew it, so why not have another few drinks at the gig and start over later.” But that didn’t feel like the right choice for me. For one, thing I did not, in fact, “blow it.” There was no earthly reason for me to get all rebellious, devil may care, and headstrong about anything. No reason to keep on drinking.

I prefer this frame instead: I made a rational choice to experiment with drinking after a time-limited experiment with not drinking. The results of the two experiments were conclusive. Success!

I reached a clear conclusion that I want to start over, but not as a 30-day experiment this time. I am making a firm choice to live free from alcohol and find out what else can unfold if I live my life that way, no longer under the shadow of booze. Basically, I am choosing not to make choices about alcohol anymore. These choices are exhausting traps.

I did not know this until after the show, but Langhorne Slim is sober and has been for several years. One of his songs, Changes, was a sober anthem of sorts. Part of it goes like this:

There’s many reasons we are what we become
I’m going through changes, ripping out pages
I’m going through changes now.

That’s about where I am at. Going through changes. And looking forward.

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