Last night I went to a comedy show with my brother. I was thinking how I probably wouldn’t have bothered to go when I was drinking, or if I did I would drink excessively and not really remember it. I would have needed a drink, and the enjoyment of the comedians would have been eclipsed by my need to keep feeding the ethanol monster. I would have stared steadily at the bar, planning my next visit: the perfect time to go to the bar to avoid crowds, the route to the bar, the beer to purchase. Someone would possibly ask me how the show was the next day and I would say ‘great!’ as in my head a Mission Impossible style map of probable routes to the bar would pop up. However this time I was looking forward to the comedians, and I didn’t even go to the bar once. Perhaps this fact was not so awesome for the venue, and their low beverage sales but it was a positive change for me.
I always thought I was open to new activities, and trying new things, regardless of drinking, and I was to some extent, but since quitting drinking it feels like I am making more effort with life. It has made me realise how much I drank to stave away boredom, as much as I did to try to avoid dealing with emotions. Unfortunately life is going to be boring sometimes, that’s just the way it is, but if you do fuck all and make no effort then it’s not going to become magically better when you quit drinking. It’s going to be worse unless you change your whole mindset and lifestyle. Sometimes it does feel like you have to drag yourself along though. Your mind is saying, ‘go home, eat chocolate, get under the doona with a book. You’d like that wouldn’t you?’. And you nod your head vacantly, thinking, ‘yes, yes I really would like that’. But then you’ve just gotta bitch slap yourself hard in the face. Maybe more than once. Nothing is going to change whilst you are under the doona. Well, maybe the skin cell to fabric ratio inside the doona but that’s all.
My bro and I went to dinner beforehand, and ate fancy gourmet pies with mash, with water on the side. My brother is not a huge drinker, and is one of those moderate people. How did he get all the control and I none? Perhaps he scraped all the moderation genes from mum’s womb on the way out, leaving me with nada. Bloody selfish. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the marshmallow test they did on children to gauge their control level, but my mum always said that my bro would pass and I would not, and not a truer word has ever been said. Even thinking about it makes me want to eat the marshmallows.
Regardless, lately I have noticed that some people find it a relief I am not drinking as then they don’t feel obliged to drink. In my boozer days I felt obliged to drink with people, even when I was trying to abstain. People pleasing, that was the problem. It’s that part of the brain that yells, ‘I need them to like me… look at me sharing a beer with you even though I have a mentally debilitating alcohol abuse problem… love me!’. However, with my brother there was no need to people please, he didn’t care if I didn’t drink and I didn’t care if he did (plus he has to love me anyway).
That’s been one my main issue with my new sober lifestyle. People that like to drink, and know me as a boozer, being offended by my non drinking. It’s almost like they think I am judging them. However, I’m more than happy for everyone to continue as they were. Drink, or don’t drink. Take drugs or don’t. Just because I choose not to doesn’t mean I have an opinion on other people doing so. I am only judging myself. If a friend thinks they have a problem with alcohol I am more than happy to offer support but other than that it’s business as usual. Be free, make choices, be content in those choices.
Later in the evening at the comedy, I was sitting at the table with my brother with absolutely nothing in front of me (sorry bar owners!), and I was laughing so hard at this comedian called Matthew Ford that I was gripping the table and doubled over. No, it wasn’t the beginning stages of a heart attack, it was whole body laughter. I was genuinely enjoying myself in a bar without the aid of alcohol, without anything. When I was boozing, sometimes I would go to a show or an event, and I’d be waiting for it to be over so I could concentrate more on my drinking without entertainment getting in the way but this time I was fully present and wanting to engage. I wanted to laugh, and I did a lot. So many times in fact that I realised how glad I was that I had shunned the doona naysayer in me, and showed up. To the comedy and to life.
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