I'm in a really good place at the moment. I've been reflecting on the content of my previous post, how I'm not missing alcohol. I've come through an intense period of obsessing about my sobriety, but lately I've dialled things back to the point I'm no longer thinking much about it at all. I made myself obsess, so now I've decided I can just as easily make myself not obsess. I'm starting to see how this new normal can work for me in my life, now and in the future.
I've been thinking about how much more fun I've been having out with family and friends without alcohol, and what an inconvenient truth that is for the alcohol industry. But I'm sure the barons of Big Alcohol aren't quaking in their money-stuffed boots about the prospect of bars being filled with sober punters any time soon. Maybe one day the sober warriors will be proved to be ahead of the curve on this, and the tide will turn against alcohol like it has with smoking.
You know, it always strikes me as disingenuous when spokespeople for alcohol companies wade into public debates about alcohol-related harm saying their company doesn't promote or encourage binge drinking and it's all about personal responsibility. It's the same when casinos talk about problem gamblers and it's all such BULLSHIT! They make huge sums of money from people over-indulging in alcohol. Alcohol is a highly addictive substance that affects decision making. Like the casino, there's very little luck involved. The odds are stacked in their favour. They can't lose. The shiny television ads depicting people gaining clarity, wealth, wisdom, popularity, a state of absolute awesomeness, from drinking one brand of alcohol or another are such propaganda. The real truth of alcohol, is it steals clarity, it makes you poorer, it makes you far less wise, it causes you to do things you wouldn't dream of doing sober, and at its worst it causes total mayhem and misery among its users. It breaks your body and your spirit. The reality of alcohol is someone passed out on a cold street with an eruption of vomit leaking down their torso. It's staggering home and rolling into bed with a spinning head. It's waking up to a head-jarring hangover the next day. It's the overcrowded hospital emergency departments. It's the driving element in the vast majority of the morning's court list. It's the battered spouses after another heavy binge. It's a factor in many of the deaths on our highways. I could go on.
Being a diuretic it doesn't even quench thirst. It's a classic case of misleading advertising. If alcohol was a TV or fridge you'd be taking it back within a week saying: "It doesn't do any of the things you claimed it would do."
I feel like I want to tell the people in my life about how great life is without booze. But I know this is a revelation people need to find out for themselves, in their own sweet time, if they want to. I sat around the dining table at my father-in-law's place last night and everyone (apart from my pregnant sis-in-law and me) were enjoying a few drinks. There was a little bit of chit-chat about the booze as there usually is when people are drinking. My wife had earlier declared that she had a headache and wouldn't have a second glass of wine, but relented about 2 minutes later (a particularly nice smelling red had just been opened and she felt that "well I have a headache already so what difference does it make"). I had a chuckle with her about her swift u-turn. I remember full well the FOMO (fear of missing out) that would strike at my father in law's dinner gatherings. He buys particularly nice wine. In the past we'd decide who was driving and that person would have a small glass only (but would be secretly gutted at not being able to have more than one or three).
They've all been very supportive of my non-drinking, but there's no chat about what it's like living sober or how I'm going with it all. The fact that life is so much better sober is an inconvenient truth. They don't ask so I don't tell. I'm not going to try to convert them.
I happily sat and drank my lemon-slice-infused water and at one point thought about how I would have reacted 10 years ago if someone had told me life without alcohol was awesome. I doubt it would have even registered. It wouldn't have meshed with my (old) belief that everything in moderation is fine (even though my drinking has often been anything but moderate), and that there needs to be a balance in life. You don't want to deprive yourself of your adult right to drink alcohol, to have that treat, that release from the stress, the conduit for celebration or despair. You need to let loose sometimes. There were plenty of times I'd go out with the aim of getting drunk. I mean that's the whole point of alcohol isn't it? People who don't drink alcohol - at all? There's just something not quite right about that. It all sounds so fucking boring! How do they do it anyway? It's not natural. Yep. That was absolutely my old mentality.
My wife and kids went to the zoo yesterday with the extended whānau (family) before heading straight to my father in law's for dinner. I stayed home to do some jobs around the house then ran over. It takes about 45 minutes from our place. When I arrived I did some stretches on the lawn and my father in law came out and handed me a glass of sparkling water with lemon and ice. It was a simple gesture, but I saw it as tacit support for my new lifestyle. I really appreciated it.
Now I'm looking ahead to my 40th birthday bash on Saturday. Earlier in the year I didn't want to celebrate at all, but now I feel I have something to celebrate (maybe I feel people might actually want to help me celebrate my birthday - which is a positive shift in my self esteem). Life is good. Being alive - and feeling the way I do about being sober - is good. I'm actually looking forward to it and I'm really glad I gave up alcohol 108 days ago and not last week. I'm not feeling torn about it. I'm not fearful of giving in to temptation. I'm not worried I won't have a good time. I can't wait to catch up with the people I value most.