There’s a lot to be said for not drinking. But I’m not going to say it here. I don’t come here to bore you. Not on purpose.
Nine years ago today, I stopped drinking. No DWI. No major drama.
Just a party one night, at a friend’s house. (Worth noting, I haven’t seen that friend since.) I didn’t drive my own car home, since by this time in my drinking career even I knew that wasn’t cool.
So I had to get a ride to get my car the next morning. I wanted to be sleeping instead. The thing that pissed me off the most about this was that I couldn’t stay in bed till noon. My ride was only available at 8 am.
On the way back to my bed, it suddenly hit me that instead of being mad about the early hour, maybe the whole thing could’ve been avoided somehow. (I always was a good problem solver.) So, yeah, next time I’ll just get a ride to the party, I decided.
After waking up later that afternoon, I sat on my couch smoking a cig and having coffee. Major headache. That last beer wasn’t so necessary in retrospect. Well, maybe those last four. Forgot my own rule about alternating drinks with water and Advil too.
My first inclination was to head to the store and get my own dainty little six-pack of Corona. To drink while pondering my future rules for drinking.
But I didn’t. I decided to quit drinking. At 4:00 in the afternoon on September 9, 2001.
I wish I could tell you about some great awakening I had. It’d be much more profound. Or some funny stories about how hard it was to quit. But it wasn’t hard, as it turned out. I never looked back.
I did go to 90 meetings in 90 days. In a small town in Iowa. So that’s something. That was more like a punishment I decided to inflict upon myself than anything else.
I found out I’m not an AA person. Sorry if you are. The people in the meetings I attended spent too much time (for me) talking about what fun they had while drunk and what great drunks they were.
I always sat there listening, thinking, “It’s over, people. You gotta let it go. You drank. Badly. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s dumb. Really, any moron can do it. So how about we quit talking about it and live our lives?”
Some of my friends said they didn’t ever think I had a drinking problem. The funny thing about that is that pretty much right after they said that, I never saw most of them again.
I had some very close longtime friends who were uncomfortable being around me when I quit drinking and they didn’t. I understood this. I never liked to be around people who weren’t drinking when I wasn’t. I didn’t get those people at all then.
Note I said, “I understood this.” Because now I think about this and it pisses me off that I could have been friends for that long with people who obviously weren’t my friends. But that’s all part of the gift that keeps on giving when your life’s about booze.
After nine years, so much still surprises me about sobriety. Everything’s so much easier, even the bad stuff that happens to you. At least you can think straight about how to make pain go away. The common sense that eluded you for so long becomes second nature, and you go to the head of the class rather quickly it seems.
OK, that should do it for this installment. I’ll leave you with a funny story that I think of every time I hear someone rationalize their excessive drinking.
A drunk finds himself in detox after a bender. He discovers he’s on a gurney and his hands and feet are in restraints. He looks at the guy next to him, and sees that in addition to his hands and feet, his roomie’s head is strapped down too.
“WHOA. That guy is way worse than me!” he thinks to himself, with great relief.
PS: Here’s a perfect essay by one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, on her 10th anniversary of being sober. She discusses how angry she was when she finally got it that there were no loopholes in sobriety: no more bullshit, in other words.
Life without bullshit doesn’t suck.
Life without bullshit doesn’t suck.