I write this as I take a heaping swig of my 17th vodka tonic of the afternoon. Just kidding.
It's been almost 7 months since my last drink, which happened to be an $18 beer at a Tyler Childers show at The Wiltern.. $18!!! Go out with a financial bang on a Thursday night! Except, I didn't pay for it (thanks and sorry, Matt). I also didn't mean, at the time, for it to be my last drink. It still may not be, in the course of my entire life. While I currently have no desire to drink, I don't want to set myself up for failure here.
I guess you could say I'm... accidentally sober. Unintentionally sober. I can't recall exactly why I didn't drink that coming weekend, or the next, or the next, or the next. I just remember feeling.. over it, like it wasn't doing anything for me. And last night, as I was dancing in the shower (well, as much as anyone can safely do so), I almost fell. My first thought was, "Wow, I do NOT miss losing my balance while drunkenly twerking or simply regular-dancing." The only thing I really miss(ed) was feeling tipsy, that feeling where my legs are starting to go numb and my balance is just the slightest bit off and I don't give a FUCK about anything, and I'm teetering on the edge squinting down at the abyss of making terrible decisions and feeling like absolute shit.
But guess what! You can sit on the toilet for a while (preferably with a squatty potty at its highest position), and your legs will turn numb in about 10-15 minutes. You can also spin in circles to feel dizzy (best method is using a swivel office chair while looking up). And with consistent practice, you can learn to not give a fuck about anything. All of which led me to reflect on the many things I don't miss about drinking:
1. First things first, dawg - Losing my balance when dancing. Maybe it's cute to some people (no idea who), but I hate catching how drunk I am via this method, which leads to my feeling self conscious, which then leads to my distracting myself from this fact by drinking more until I probably (er, inevitably) brown out. I guess I liked being drunk without appearing drunk, a true feat that I'd sometimes mastered, although any reviewing committee members likely had little business discerning such a thing.
2. Waking up confused - Honestly, most of my drunk stories are hilarious to me. That being said, best to quit while ahead, and go out on top! Or, quit before getting fired. I didn't want to eventually get to a point where most of my drunk stories were horrifying rather than laughable, or just myths told around the campfire after my death. Okay, I wouldn't have died from cirrhosis, let's be clear. I didn't drink that much. It would've been something like getting shot for mouthing off to the wrong skinhead or falling off a cliff in Italy while trying to do a headstand (almost happened, fml). Anyway, I can recall immediately a few times I've woken up and didn't know where I was. The best/worst of these is... last summer? No, it was two summers ago. I woke up in bed, reached for the light, couldn't find it, the wall felt different, I found the light, and I was in my best friend's guest room. Did NOT at all recall vomiting in front of his house the night before, but I was glad that I had the unintended foresight to book my flight that day to SF for the afternoon rather than the morning. Also, thank god I never woke up in some serial killer's lair.
3. Waking up feeling guilty - Lol. This one happened more often than not with jbow. I didn't always have something to feel guilty about, but I'd often wake up feeling like, "Oh shit, am I in trouble??" Even when he'd say that I was totally fine, I wouldn't believe it. After all, he is much nicer than I am. I don't let things go for years. You KNOW if I'm the least bit upset. All it takes for him to let it go is... like a half-assed sorry plus three minutes. Anyway, that I'd wake up feeling guilty was not a good sign, whether I did or didn't do anything. (If it were anything, though, it was usually just me starting shit--See #8 below.)
4. Spending a lot of money on alcohol and then junk food - Oh man. I once spent $75 at Paoli's on a fucking Wednesday. I hadn't even bought anyone else anything. And it was like, $5 a drink. I'm no mathematician, but that adds up to my ending up two blocks over at Denny's at 3 AM and how do they let people that drunk into an establishment? Well, if you're open 24 hours, I guess you get what you pay for. Which is comparable to.. $50 worth of Taco Bell.
5. Driving drunk - How do you think I got to Denny's at 3 AM? To the angels that have guided my path home allllll these years without getting into an accident or getting pulled over, I owe you fucking big time. We have a saying around these parts in defense of our drunk driving: "...It's LA." As in, public transportation is shit, and Ubers and Lyfts weren't in existence for most of my drinking career, and at any rate, acquiescing to an Uber or Lyft or a taxi or any and all well-meaning friends who said they'd drive me home would mean admitting my absurd level of inebriation, and pride/stupidity/both were never going to let that happen. Cause you know, mind over matter. (Not.)
6. Hangovers - I'm not gonna lie, I used to find these (even the horrendous ones) kind of enjoyable. It was like a badge of ....not honor, but more like a sign that a lot of fun was had the previous night (or earlier that day). But when hangovers start happening while still drunk, and out and about... fuck that. I was getting to a point where I couldn't even relish in my drunkenness for more than an hour! It's like I had a timer over my head and with each passing month, a minute of drunken joy was shaved off. Lame.
7. Feeling emotionally fucked up - Duh. Alcohol is a depressant. They should hammer this home in high school. Or did they? I went to the kind of high school where we ignored uncomfortable discussions about things like dinosaurs and sex. Anyway, I first encountered this one not long after I began drinking in college. Most memorable was that feeling of intense loneliness that could not be abated by anything except time, which as we have all experienced, passes sooo slowly the faster we want it to go. Before going on antidepressants, I'd suggest quitting alcohol first and seeing if that does the trick. (For more information, you can read all about the pain-body and how it feeds off of intoxicating substances in Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth.")
8. Being an asshole (I mean, more of an asshole than usual) - This can be characterized by so many things, but my main mode of being an asshole is talking shit. It happens enough while sober, but when I'm drunk, I can get mean and also threaten violence that--let's be real--I was likely to never follow through with, and any of that shit is ugly. As in, not attractive. At all. I shudder to think of all the things I've said or done that make me question how I still have friends. But, it's probably because they were drunk, too, and forgot. Lucky me!
9. Last but not least, Mom being upset with me - Basically, I don't miss her death stares at family functions or her disappointment/disgust after finding me asleep on the bathroom floor.
What have I gained, you may ask? Aside from a leaner frame, better skin, and calmer intestinal lining, I didn't like the idea of anything I'd said or done being attributed to my being drunk. So if I'm being a dick, well, I'd like it to be because that's my personality and I mean it, not because I'm being unconsciously driven by a liquid devil. I wanted to be more present and accountable for every moment, not have a substance be the reason or the excuse for my behavior or thoughts or words. I never felt like I needed alcohol to be "fun," so that wasn't an issue, but if I'm wrong, don't let me know in the comments. I also like knowing that my happiness or sadness is my own, not distilled and manufactured and mixed with sugar and lime and eventually vomited up or shat out. That way, I can get to handling myself without a middle man. Sounds quite mature. Or just time-efficient.
Not drinking has also helped me, interestingly, understand my relationship with food better. Food is like the OG alcohol, but worse, because you actually need it to remain alive. Distraction, salve, friend, lover, parental figure, child(?) - so many roles food (or alcohol) can play, which is dangerous if you think about it. So, I've found that it's all about intention. Whatever I'm running from or toward, I'm not gonna find it in food (or alcohol). If I can translate my current relationship with alcohol to my relationship with food, dude, I'm gonna be levitating soon.
In conclusion, this is why I'm happy to not drink these days. [Read: no judgment to those who drink.] But check back with me in 5 years.. or 1... or next week.