It’s been two years since I’ve had a drop of alcohol. No liquor. No beer. Not even a sip of wine. Nothing. Yes, it’s been two years since I decided that alcohol just wasn’t for me, and while I’m happy to tell you why, I want to qualify these remarks before I do.
I am not against the consumption of alcohol. If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine, and I’m not promoting the idea that not drinking alcohol is somehow the best way to go. While technically I am a teetotaler now, I’m not even going to suggest that you give it a try. My remarks here are about me. You can do whatever you like with your life, and I’m fine with that. The only thing I will ever tell you not to do when it comes to alcohol is this: Don’t drink and drive (ever).
First and foremost, let’s be clear. I’m not and have never been an alcoholic. I’ve never had a physical dependency on alcohol, and frankly, I only drank occasionally – a few times a month at most. I didn’t come home every day and pop open a beer. In fact, beer didn’t even have a permanent home in my refrigerator. It showed up from time to time as a house guest and never stayed long.
Years ago I gave up on liquor drinks. I never fared well on liquor, but I did and still do love the taste of an ice cold beer, and I drank beer mostly in social settings. My problem was that once I popped the top off an ice cold beer, I wanted another one immediately. One became two. Two became three – and after the third, I could just pour them down my throat like there was no tomorrow. Once I started, I just wanted to increase that buzzed happy feeling and I would and did – to the point of excess. There’s a term for how I drank beer, and it’s called binge drinking. And frankly, I’ve done it many times over the years to the point that there were holes in my evenings.
The problem with occasional binge drinking is that you have a great time doing it, but there is always a next day – and that next day used to chew me up and spit me out every time. Put the hellish hangover aside for a moment. It was nothing compared to the guilt I felt about not remembering exactly what went on the night before. It was nothing compared to feeling in the pit of my stomach when someone I truly care about asks, “Do you remember what you did last night?” – and I didn’t. You just know it’s going to be bad. I’m sure my good time ruined many people’s evenings over the years and well, that’s just plain selfish crap. One night of pure out of control fun always seemed to lead to a week of apologies and feeling terrible about myself.
Two years ago, shortly after my 40th birthday, I decided I’d had enough of those feelings. I didn’t want them anymore – ever. I didn’t want to have to hear anyone explain or excuse my behavior. I wanted to own all of it – all of me, so I quit drinking altogether.
Yes, I miss the taste of an ice cold Sam Adam’s on a hot summer day, and I miss the feeling of a frosty mug in my hand with a great steak dinner, but it’s easier if I just stay away from alcohol altogether. I have felt a thousand times better about myself over the last two years. I am in control of me – at all times – with nothing to blame for my behavior but me, and it feels great. And even though it took me a long time (nearly 20 years) to learn that alcohol and I just don’t play nice with each other, I think I’m a better person for it.
So, if you ask me out for a beer and see me cringe a bit, now you know why. I really do want to get together with you and hang out. I’d just rather do it over a super sampler platter or a venti double-shot on ice rather than with a frosty mug in my hand. I hope you understand.