I enjoy alcoholic beverages. A lot. In fact, you could say that I love to drink. And when I say ‘love to drink’ that should be read in capital, bold letters like “L-O-V-E to drink”. But I also have had to recently dig deep within myself and admit that I had a drinking problem.
Before I continue with this post I want to make something perfectly clear: I still drink booze. Just not as heavily as I used to.
I am completely enamored with the social aspect of drinking. Booze lowers inhibitions, emboldens you and literally can take the edge off of stressful situations. If we couple this with my personality – highly social, loud, a very happy extrovert – then we can see how I would enjoy getting lost in a drunken haze. Every opportunity was a chance for another Bacchanalian where the only brakes on this drunken locomotive was my body’s inability to continue on.
My ability to consume was almost legendary. Almost. At one point I was able to drink two full bottles of scotch within a 4 hour period and still walk and talk as if I’d only had two or three drinks. Martinis, shots, beers, ciders. I wouldn’t discriminate. One evening I went to a happy hour with some old friends and went four rounds deep into drinking in homage to George Thoroughgood’s “One bourbon, one scotch, one beer”…in addition to 8 additional beers.
However, it took a toll on me. Physically, probably not so much. But to my everyday life as well as mentally? Definitely. My drinking had turned from something that was lighthearted and fun to something that was destructive.
It wasn’t worth driving and getting pulled over. Although I’ve never received a DUI or DWI I did stink of alcohol when police have stopped me while speeding. And, yes, I’ve lost my driver’s license in the past because of my impaired decision making. I’ve had to carry the shame of having my wife and friends drive out to the toll road and pick me up because, although I wasn’t pulled over for drunk driving and I passed the sobriety tests, the police didn’t think it wise to let me drive.
And that weighed so heavily on me.
I always thought that I would have to be rip roaring drunk to have fun or be the life of the party. I would drink to such excess believing that every night drinking with me had to be some fantastic experience for everybody. It has taken me such a long time to realize that I don’t have to do that; that I’m not responsible for creating an unforgettable event. Alcohol is no longer the driving force of my entertainment. These days I enjoy relaxing and the conversations I have with people.
The sad thing is that now, as my life is in such disarray and I’ve lost the most important people and things to me, I desperately want to turn back to alcohol to avoid all the pain. I know the booze would numb my brain and my emotions; make me happier and help me escape the whirlwind of emotions I feel. It would dull all of the anguish and loneliness I feel. All I want to do is drown myself in alcohol and forget. Forget it all.
And I can’t. And I won’t.
As much as I want to avoid confronting the reality of my situation and hide it in my happy, drunken haze I realize that there are more important things in life than the immediate gratification of booze. Plus, you have to sober up sooner or later. It’s part of what being a responsible adult is all about.