Wednesday, December 23, 2015

30 Days Dry - Part 1: Why?

I’m writing at my computer at home, with a pint glass full of tonic water, just tonic water, no vodka or gin. Right now after 28 days without a drop of alcohol, I could really go a beer.

In mid-November I decided that between Thanksgiving and Christmas I wasn’t going to drink any alcohol. I saw that one of my co-workers was doing this and after some Internet browsing, it became clear that going dry for an extended period of time was something a lot of people were doing. Some people were doing it for their health, others as a social experiment and some were going dry because of the challenge.

I liked the idea that it would be good for my health. I tried to stick with only drinking on the weekends but sometimes I drank during the weekends, when after a tough day, I “deserved” it. Most of the time I felt fine but especially since entering my thirties it feels like a gamble when I drink. Some mornings I feel fine, and others I feel slightly hung over. My body just doesn’t process alcohol like it used to. I wanted to get my body cleaned up.

Every time I get back from winter break I feel like I need a week to get over all of the drinking that happens around the holiday season. Between rewarding myself for stressful workdays and all of the holiday events and parties, there’s a lot of drinking that happens.

I wanted to test myself. Thanksgiving to Christmas is one of the most stressful times of year for my work and in my personal life. All of the holiday performances are difficult to handle and especially now with a kid, the holiday season requires more active planning and participation from me as a parent. Did I really need booze to help me handle all of this stress or was I strong enough to handle this myself?

The main reason that I wanted to go dry for a month was Ollie. One of the unfortunate things about drinking especially at parties is that it sometimes it makes you less present. In awkward situations, drinking can pull you out of the discomfort and this is really helpful at times, but I’m not sure how this affects Ollie. I never feel like I get enough time with Ollie and the time that I spend with him, I really want to be there with him and for him, fully, even if that means I have to deal with more feelings of social awkwardness.

This last month has been hard. I miss the flavor of a good beer, the aroma great whiskey. I miss the ritual of drinking, pouring a beer into a glass, mixing up an old fashioned. I miss the warmth of relaxation and the feeling of freedom that comes when the first wave of alcohol makes the world seem more vibrant and accessible.

I don’t miss wondering how I’m going to feel the following morning after a night of drinking. I don’t miss the feeling of being drunk and I don’t miss the fear that somehow I will loose control.

In the past I’ve taken a couple weeks off to make sure that I can live without booze that I’m not somehow slipping into alcoholism. I irrationally fear this possibility, because taking time off drinking has never been a big issue. The challenge of this month off though really makes me wonder. Why do I miss alcohol? What does alcohol really mean to my life? To all of our lives?

I’m going explore all of this in the next couple posts from my first drink to being the only man at a party without a beer in his hand.

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