I am attempting to go thirty days without a drink. Here is my diary on the subject.
Three weeks without a drink is a wild thing.
This is wild mostly because three weeks ago I thought I wouldn’t survive it. I thought I would “relapse,” cradled with a bottle of wine sobbing in the face of the reality of my alcohol addiction. Despite all the taunts—Inauguration Day, the Women’s March, Thursdays—The Drink did not touch my lips a single time this week. Not even a taste. Nary a smell. Barely a glance.
So what is life without alcohol? A lot of sparkling water and looking in another direction. This week was that lesson. The boredom of not drinking has faded and in its place is the looking in the other direction for things to do. Can I do work after work? Yes, because I have not had a drink. Can I read in bed without falling asleep? Yes, because I have not had a drink. Can I take a twenty minute nap and actually feel refreshed? Yes, because I have not had a drink.
This week had challenges that enforced that sparkling water direction. I went to grab a drink with a friend and had bubbly water while he had beer. I went to a dinner party and had bubbly water and smoked some weed while everyone drank. It’s empowering to look the other way and, despite people questioning and pushing you toward The Drink, it’s much easier to just shake your head and say, “Naw, I’m good.” The craving has left my building and now is down the road looking for someone else to occupy. That is empowering.
Also: I’m saving oodles of money on not booze. That, friends, is the platinum lining on this dry cloud.
The biggest challenge in this was doing something ritualistic (My book club.) that is paired with drunkenness (Bottles and bottles of wine). I thought such a gathering would be my downfall. I thought that, yes, I would participate like everyone else. Yet, in the moment, the thought didn’t enter my mind nor did the thought that I was “missing out” on something enter my thinking: there was a complete void of alcohol as it relates to me. It feels much like reprograming a computer, like I finally found the card in my brain that says “CRAVE ALCOHOL” and removed it. The resulting life has been productive.
So what does that mean for the future? I’m uncertain. I have a week left in this exercise and will slide down this hill toward casual drinking with some reservations because I appreciate the time I have being clean and clear minded. However, there is small lack of joy without alcohol. This has been discussed but no marijuana high rivals a jolly drunken mind. It’s a less productive mind, yes, but it is a more glaringly happy one.
Life without The Drink also contextualizes the wants in your life. I thought my lack of productivity or self-advancement was due to drinking too much but it’s not due to anything else than my being slightly lazy: I’m in my own way. The excuses have all been dropped and I’m able to see myself for who I am: a person talking about goals (To write, to learn, to be bigger than myself, etc.) yet those goals are still at a distance now. That has to change.
How? By pushing myself. In another time, an alternative to Drynuary is Non-Productivuary because I’m an eager American too busy chattering my teeth in the hopes of work, to compare myself to others, to win. It’s gross. The most disgusting aspect of Drynuary isn’t that I realized the grossness of the extent to which I drank but that all this has been a means of comparing myself to others and diagnose my productivity. Yes, I know I’m a hard worker and have accomplished some things but I’m so thirsty for reaching goals more than I am thirsty for alcohol; thus, without The Drink, I’m left to see that I’m standing still because that’s who I am.
But is any of this a bad thing? Am I being hard on myself because I’m actually behind in life goals or because I’m simply bored as a result of sobriety? Or neither? That’s the confusion now: how to fill your life’s time when you aren’t working and, if you were to work for yourself, would you be better off or in constant need of direction?
I guess that’s truly what it means to be an adult, no?