The First One Suprised Me the Most.
Success is a process… During that journey sometimes there are stones thrown at you, and you convert them into milestones. — Sachin Tendulkar
November 10th, 2018.
It was a day that had no specialness to it at all. Lena (my wife) and I were going out to meet one of our favorite couples (Willie and Leelee), and we did our usual process of getting a fifth of Ciroc Raspberry liquor and Crystal Light to make some of the most bomb mixed drinks you could ever have in your life.
We got our usual Uber to the Eclipse De Luna restaurant and proceeded to have a great night out.
The next day I woke up with a throbbing headache and thought maybe I would cut back on drinking for a while because I had some goals that I wanted to accomplish. You can read more about that and why I started this publication in general here, but two years later, here I am:
Still alcohol-free and not interested in ever going back.
I’ve learned many things along the way, but here are what I deem as some of the more profound lessons that I think could help others, so I wanted to share.
IT MIGHT BE MUCH EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Okay, I do realize that “easy” is a relative term, and giving up drinking can be extremely hard for some and is for many. However, as someone whose life pretty much revolved around alcohol and who never thought of giving it up as possible, I was surprised at how it was nowhere near as difficult as I thought it might be.
I will admit the first 30–90 days were a bit challenging, but once I was able to get past that, things started to roll downhill. There was one moment at about the six-month period that I began to ask myself if I should consider drinking again, and that was the hardest part for me by far.
I had done three-month stints before, but I had never done six months, so when I started approaching this, I started to wonder if perhaps I had made a mistake.
I thought about all the nights out I was missing, as well as coming to grips with the reality that I wasn’t hanging out with my friends as much (something that will happen and you can read about here), and started to question was it worth it.
Ultimately, of course, I decided it was, but there was a time that it was a bit tempting to go back.
Eighteen months later, I’m so glad that I didn’t.
SWEETS ARE REALLY F*CKING GOOD!
Before giving up alcohol, I rarely, if ever, ate any sweets. Alcohol and ice cream make a terrible combination for the stomach, so I was in no way interested in partaking in desserts if it was going to interfere with my ability to drink more.
Now that the option is gone, sweets are my vice of choice. Sometimes it seems so bad that I wonder if I need to regulate myself off sweets before I replace the possibility of alcoholism with diabetes.
It has been one of the few things that I’ve been able to use as my substitute for alcohol that truly makes me pretty excited when I’m getting ready to partake in it.
Because I eat pretty healthy during the week, I allow myself one cheat meal each weekend, and it typically involves something with a lot of sugar in it.
I continually monitor this, so it doesn’t get too out of hand, but it has been one of the interesting realizations of this whole alcohol-conscious journey.
ACTUALLY REMEMBERING WHAT YOU DID IS PRETTY COOL
When I used to go out and drink, nine times out of ten, I would blackout at some point during the night and wouldn’t 100% percent remember everything that happened.
I would remember most of the night, but there would often be little blanks toward the end that would cause me to have to try to piece everything together through friends, text messages, and Instagram or Snapchat posts.
Now that I am actually able to remember everything, it’s so much cooler to review how the night went, what I did with my wife, and all the fun we had without in any way feeling guilty for having said or done something that I wouldn’t usually do.
It’s also pretty precious to create new memories with my wife that I will always have to cherish, as opposed to all the times we were out drinking and couldn’t quite remember where and what we did.
Our sober nights out now are so much more exciting and special than our drunken nights from our past.
TRAVELING IS A MILLION TIMES BETTER ALCOHOL-CONSCIOUS
When we used to travel, we were so focused on drinking that we rarely did anything in the city that didn’t involve that as the focus of the day.
We would often travel to cities all over the U.S. and still end up at some dive bar with a pool table in which we played pool and dominated the jukebox like we owned the place.
What this turned into was us going to so many different cities but doing the exact same thing that we could’ve done at home.
Now, when we travel, we plan things that are unique and specific to the city we are in and are in no way hand-cuffed by this feeling of a need to drink to handicap those plans.
This has led to us visiting museums with some of the most exquisite art in the world, riding bikes in the largest man-made cavern in the U.S., and touring a town for a ghost ride in the back of a real hearse (check out Savannah Ghost tours and ask for Peg Leg Ron if you ever go.)
These are all things that we would’ve probably never done before. Now, they are things that excite us the most when we travel, as we fill up our itinerary with things that that we will never forget.
IT GETS BETTER WITH TIME
The great thing about being alcohol conscious is that it actually gets better the more get used to doing things without alcohol.
When I first became alcohol-conscious, there were a number of things that were new and awkward for me to learn, as I was so used to doing so many things with alcohol in my system.
Now that drinking was no longer an option, I had to relearn all of these things and it was something that was not exciting at first.
With time, however, it became easier and easier, and eventually, I actually began to do things much better without alcohol than I could ever do with alcohol.
Also, as the fog haze was removed from my mind, I found myself able to grasp things so much faster and with greater accuracy than anything I had experienced for some time.
As my brain made new neurotransmitters and the grey matter that was damaged from drinking continued to repair itself, my ability to think through issues and problems increased dramatically, along with my ability to retain information.
This benefit has continued to increase each day.
My two years of alcohol-consciousness have been two of my biggest growth years ever.
While it hasn’t been easy all the time, and there have been some losses of friends along the way, the person I’m becoming is the person that I always felt I should’ve been.
Two years have been great so far, so I’m extremely excited to see where year three leads.