Wow, Ive been getting some great feedback on this blog and heres the first bit of reader email.
Why the hell is this so hard?
Actually lets start this way. Hey, we barely know each other but I’ve enjoyed your work in other avenues, and now here we are, talking about the realest shit there is, because alcohol is something that unites us all, in some weird way. Ive had my ups and downs with it but always felt like I kept it under control. I had one episode years ago where I threw up on myself and got tossed at last call because I was celebrating a pay raise at work (ughthe worst night), but since then, I never got behind the wheel drunk and I rarely did/said anything while under the influence that I ended up regretting.
My thing with alcohol was (well, IS) that it ends up amplifying whatever sad shit might be rolling around in my head at any given time. I cant even pinpoint how it started, but Id gotten awfully comfortable with drinking 2-4 beers and/or a couple glasses of bourbon pretty much every single day (what am I saying pretty muchit was every single day) after work. That time between 5-9 p.m. Its my time to drink. While I was drinkingman, I cant even tell you so good. No other way to say it, I LOVE good beer and bourbon. But toward the tail end of every evening, Id just feel like total shit self-pity, self-doubt, self-loathing, the whole deal. No real reason my life is pretty great. Alcohol just makes me negatively introspective. Id wake up the next morning feelingeh, semi-OK, but never good. Never great. Justdrinking to drink. Every day. One, then another, then another.
Then, a little more than a week ago, I decided Thats enough. Just got sick of it. I still want (nay, crave) a cold beer when I walk in the door after work, but I just pour a big ginger ale instead. Working so far. Ive knocked out a few weeks here and there sober, but always got roped back into it at a social engagement or whatever. Always think I can just have one at dinner and sometimes, I can! But the next day, lets have two. Then its the weekend, and hell, its noon, I can have one with lunchwhy stop nowthe game is almost onand there is still five in the fridge
You know how it goes.
So Im feeling great right now. Sharp, focused, energized, 5 pounds lighter. All good. And your blog posts have been helpful, so please know that. And I appreciate you giving me your email to vent all this also super helpful. Youre an A+ dude and Im here for you to talk through all this (and anything else you wanna talk about). Thanks again.
Thats a pretty normal reaction for sure. The habitual drinking becomes common place before you notice, and then it slowly starts to wear you down. I remember thinking How does Don Draper do it? and then I have to remind myself that hes a character on a television show.
The social engagement thing is hard. Once you quit drinking you might start to realize how many free drinks float around, and/or how many situations where people expect you to drink. You tend to stick out like a sore thumb if you dont have a drink in your hand, and people tend to treat you with kid-gloves because they think you are broken. Its sick, and Ive skipped more than one social engagement because I didnt want to deal with crap.
Its hard for so many reasons, Im only starting to see how theyve creeped in to my life. My dad drank after work, especially while watching sports and I think I picked that up from him. That, and all the alcohol culture on television and in movies was a huge thing for me. Its still a trigger when I see some characters on television getting hammered and I want nothing more than to pound some liquor and get sloppy (its a very short window of deep desire, but its followed by some longing).
I think its also hard because of the age we live in. I dont know much about you, but if youre around my age and in my demographic youre likely underemployed and over educated. Sometimes we see where were at and think This is it, tomorrows going to be the same day as today. We long for more, but it seems impossible to change our life in a way thats meaningful (for any number of reasons). That feeling of gentle hopelessness makes booze a very attractive option.
You can turn off your brain, shake up your attitude and give yourself a kick in the pants with a stiff drink. After all these years of equating alcohol with good times, it feels great to have a drink after work. Its that climax at the end of the masturbation that is your day job. However, the pavlovian trigger of drinking doesnt really give you pleasure it just numbs you until you feel comfortable in your skin. Thats all fine and dandy after an especially hard day at work, or during a celebration but for people like us it becomes a habit that eventually numbs us to the point of depression.
Thats why its so hard, and it sucks because the hardest part isnt NOT DRINKING, its unplugging your brain from the triggers that make you want to drink. Some people need to uncover some childhood trauma to help them out, some people need to forgive themselves for something they did, I think people like us need to add more value to our lives in order to make it worth living without the constant burden of alcohol. Once were amazing people with too little free time to be boozing, we wont want to spend our evenings in a melancholy state of numbed bliss.
Thanks for reading this post. Check out the first post for more info on what this is all about. My advice and anecdotes are to be taken as entertainment and for inspirational purposes (definition: I’m NOT a doctor or addictions professional). If you think you have a serious drinking problem please visit a doctor. If you’re worried about telling a family doctor, you can always try a walk-in clinic or try this resource for help with substance abuse in Canada.