Ah, let me just pour a glass of wine while I sit down to write this. The Christmas tree is lit, the window is frosty, and it all feels so romantic. The wine, well, the wine completes it. It would feel as though a line from a poem was missing without it.
You see, drinking has become a fairly large part of my life. Many people’s, I suppose.
It doesn’t help that I work in the service industry—knowing and selling alcoholic beverages is my main source of income (while I pursue bigger aspirations, of course.) This job creates a bubble as my whole world seems encompassed by people who are constantly drinking. Which, upon inspecting a bigger picture, is probably not the case. I’m sure the majority of the patrons in my restaurant don’t drink as often as five days a week; although, it seems the world is out drinking all the time when you work in a 500 seat restaurant that fills nearly every night. And my co-workers, also likely caught in the same bubble as I, drink often. “Often” is putting it lightly. It seems the only acceptable exceptions to avoid staying after work for a drink with co-workers are school exams, illness, and being hung over from the previous night’s adventures (even that doesn’t always hold up.)
I’m sure to many (possibly most) going extended periods of time without drinking may not sound like a challenge in the slightest, but in my current world, it’s an anomaly and a decision most individuals have no motivation to make. Not even just my current world; from working in hotels to cruise ships, from backpacking to running festivals, my day-to-day adult life has seemed over-run with booze.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m positive my habits don’t qualify me as having an addiction. While most nights I opt for a glass of wine or a pint of beer, to relax alone or enjoy while I socialize with friends, I rarely find myself “hammered” and often go days or weeks without drinking simply because I don’t feel like having one.
I promised myself when I was younger that I would never use inebriation as a way to escape or deal with my emotions. I can’t say I’ve held true to that; I recall many drunken nights after break-ups, and I often use a glass of wine to help me “de-stress” after a hard work day (which is quite backwards upon the examination of the effects of alcohol.) While I don’t feel this is abnormal, or dare I say “wrong”, I can’t help but wonder how much it’s stealing from me. What does it allow me to bottle up? How is it stopping me from growing? And is it simply adding stress to the days to come because of failing productivity and developing insecurity due to unopened feelings?
Those questions kept popping up and I was becoming aware that despite being quite happy with my life, the areas I am less than pleased with have alcohol as major catalyst. Now, I’m no table dancer; my friends will confirm that I’m not wild or even all that different when I have a few drinks at a party. What I am unhappy with is waking up the next day knowing I could have bought a new camera with how much money I spent on drinks in the last few months; knowing that I’d be more productive at my job without that morning headache; knowing that I wouldn’t have put on 10lbs over the last year had I drank less beer; knowing that I’d be in a better mood and more optimistic about life without suffering from booze blues; knowing that during the half an hour I was hitting the snooze button, I could have been a running or swimming (oh, how I miss the benefits of daily exercise!)
These thoughts collided with a recent idea I had to get me writing regularly again and to challenge myself with a yearlong commitment. And that’s that—365 days of sobriety is coming my way. From midnight on January 1st, 2015 to January 1st 2016, I depart on a life experiment bound to greatly affect every aspect of my life, of which I’ll blog about here. From the upsets and obstacles, to the benefits and moments of strength, I’ll share my world—sans-booze. Meanwhile, I’m going to finish this lovely glass of Pinot Noir, guilt-free.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with excitement and trepidation I present to you, Tales From A Teetotaler.