I find myself coming across more and more articles and alcohol and addiction in my daily internet travels. Is this just a form of confirmation bias; now that I’ve made such a momentous decision for my own life, am I just noticing the same questioning more readily on the lips and fingertips of others? Or is it really something that’s moving more into the public consciousness? I tend to hope it’s the latter for several reasons (or do I?).
First it would be nice if everyone was healthier across the globe. Alcohol and other forms of addiction are pretty patently destroying lives the world over. And alcohol is a particularly insidious invader in Ireland in particular. This means I’m worried about people more directly related to me – not just the adults, but the children. What will it be like for my children when they’re in their teens?
Other than one journey as a 12 year old into over-indulgence at a BBQ, I didn’t really drink until I reached the age of majority. But boy did I make up for it then. I actually gave up drinking alcohol aged 20 for the best part of a year, but then a Summer in the States, my 21st birthday happened. A cousin introduced me to corona-lime-in-neck by a New York harbour in the scorching sunshine. And I didn’t look back until recently.
I recall my non-drinking months back then as being both happy and sad. I was in the throes of a particularly difficult depression and I hadn’t yet learned how to cope with it. I was medicated for the first time in my life – Prozac (which I hated for how it numbed the hell out of me). In retrospect and knowing what I do now about my mental health, I was cycling up as well as down throughout those months, with episodes of not “needing” to eat or sleep.
I guess I had been previously self-medicating with the alcohol, so there was only a window of about 6 or 7 months where I was essentially “unmedicated” and actually feeling my own emotions. We know the end of the story, we know I didn’t know how to cope with them, but there was something kind of nice about that brief time when I lived my life as myself.
And it may seem late in the day to me here and now, but it’s good to be back. Actually, wherever you are in your life is always going to be viewed from the perspective of “the end so far”.
I sometimes wish I knew how long my life would be. But only if the answer is going to be “A Thousand Years”.
Okay, so I guess I wish I could be guaranteed a thousand years of life.
I hate these short human lifespans.
So, anyway, I “came out” to another person about my alcohol free life. It was met with a positive response and that was cool. In the early days of letting people know, I felt kind of an immediate urge to share this blog with them as a kind of extended explanation of the whole thing. I don’t feel that any more.
I think I wanted to talk about it a lot more then. Now I guess I have “here” to talk about it if I really feel like it, but even here it’s not the main focus of my life. That’s one of the nice things about giving up alcohol completely. You get to stop thinking about it nearly completely.
When you’re “regulating” yourself, essentially going on an “alcohol-diet”, then you can’t help but constantly think of the damned stuff. “Will I have a drink tonight? How much will I allow myself? Have I ‘earned‘ a ‘blow-out’?” and all sorts of other types of – in hindsight – pretty disordered thoughts about an inanimate substance.
So, today’s post has been kind of self-congratulatory, hasn’t it? Tomorrow marks exactly 5 months since I stopped. That’s kind of a thing, isn’t it? I’ve stopped counting the exact number of days, but months are easy to keep in mind; all I have to do is notice when the 10th rolls around. 5 months is not really all that long all the same. If I had a five month old baby, I’d categorise myself as a new parent. If I was a five month old, I’d definitely be barely alive.
But at least it’s been five months of my very own life.
And that’s not to discount the years before. I own those too in all their chequered ways. I own them with responsibility and I own them with memory. But I don’t own every single part of them with feeling.
And I feel now. And I own every single one – even the boring ones.
PS: Wow! That was the first Inpsirobot image I generated. Is he listening in?