I had a beer at one of the local breweries during a book club meeting with some friends. It was a cold IPA, hoppy and delicious, served in a glass with the brewing company’s logo. There were nachos involved as well because that place has good ones. I talked and laughed and ate, and I sipped that IPA slowly and deliberately. I savored it.
That was five years ago today.
Anyone who knew me as a drinker knows how much I loved my beer, wine, and champagne. I enjoyed a good dirty martini from time to time as well. I had my first taste of alcohol around the age of 15, and I pretty much enjoyed the hell out of booze until I was 44-years-old. When I think about how and when I used to drink – heavily and frequently – I find it somewhat astounding that I haven’t touched a drop since that night 5 years ago. It was so habitual. It was such a part of socializing for me. It was my way of celebrating, and it was my crutch for dealing with loneliness and pain. It was always there.
Do I miss drinking? Not really. I did at first because I’d made such a habit of it. There were a few times during the train wreck that was the end of my marriage that I seriously considered going to the bar that serves the best dirty martinis in town and downing a few. But I knew that impulse came from a place of wanting to hide from what was going on. I knew, deep down, that if I numbed that shit out it would still be there waiting for me after the hangover. It already hurt. Why add to the misery? Instead, I felt the pain and drank my club sodas and coffee and kept on truckin’.
At first, it was weird to tell people I don’t drink. Alien almost because it had been such a part of my life for so long. But as the days, weeks, and months passed, it got easier. It became more natural. Now it would actually feel alien to order or accept a drink. Honestly? I didn’t know if I would remain alcohol-free for this long. I didn’t have a plan other than quitting. But each day I didn’t drink, I felt better physically, emotionally, and mentally. Each day I found other ways to cope with my stress and sadness. I found other, non- alcoholic drinks to celebrate with. Each day it got a little easier.
Each day added up until here I am – five years later – still learning ways to gracefully, soberly deal with life’s curveballs and stressors. I feel really proud of the fact that I was able to kick a habit that could have become a very serious issue. I don’t think much about it anymore. I do on this day, though, since it’s a significant marker in my life.
Do I think I’ll ever drink again? My honest answer is I don’t know. I don’t know what’s in store for me tomorrow, or next week, or next year. But what I can tell you is that I’m not drinking right now. And this moment – theonerighthere – is all any of us has anyway.