This post is slightly fetishistic about booze later on, which if you’re a recovering alcoholic might be kind of annoying.
I like alcohol. I don’t get drunk very often, probably once a month on average, but I drink with an enthusiasm and regularity that makes me very conscious of one possible way this could go. I could become like a chocoholic, but for booze.
So every now and then, I give it up for a month – just to check I still can. I’m three weeks into one of these sobriety benders right now, so I thought I’d report on how it’s going, and what I’ve concluded from it.
Was so easy that my impulse was to cancel the whole thing. I think I forgot I was even doing it, I just didn’t happen to think about or consume booze that week. Point proven – I am not remotely addicted to alcohol, might as well call it off.
Luckily, one part of my brain is actually smart, and it treated this line of reasoning with the deep suspicion it deserves. If you’re so fine with this, rest of my brain, why don’t we just ride it out for three more weeks?
Well maybe we should!
Well let’s do that then!
Also easy. I really don’t appear to have any cravings at all for the stuff, it’s just a thing that makes me feel nice if I do it.
The only strange thing about Week 2 is that, with an almost total certainty, I come to believe it is Week 4. An easy four weeks! No warning signs! Let’s break out the booze!
Wait, I’ve got how long left?
Maybe it’s like the old saying about tobacco – you don’t live longer without it, it just seems longer. This is seeming like a long goddamn time. I’m not remotely tempted to actually cave, and I have no specific desire for any specific drink, I’m just intensely, weirdly conscious of time. It honestly feels like two months. I feel like I’ve left alcoholic life behind, completely forgotten about the stuff, entered a new lifestyle without it. And while it’s not causing me any discomfort to do so, I would judge that my previous life was a little merrier.
What I have learned
The break has made me analyse the way I drank, and when it finally does end, six subjective years from now, I’ll change some things. First, though, here are the alcohol-related experiences I do miss, and look forward to having again:
A pint of beer and a fish sandwich. This is a bizarre longing. I have had this maybe two or three times in my life. Beer is not generally my poison, and fish is not generally my food, but I remember this particular combination as vividly hearty and comforting.
Spiced rum and jazz. Something absurdly chilled, like In A Sentimental Mood. This used to be my reward for finishing my daily to-do list for Gunpoint, and the thing I miss is that feeling of utter tranquility. Sober, my brain is hyper – it fills downtime with new ideas and plans. A thick-bottomed glass of gold rum, cold but burning warm, tasting of vanilla and easter spices, seduces it into submission.
Gin and tonic with my dad and sister (my mum doesn’t drink). My dad would always make one of these for his cousin Sarah at family gatherings, and my sister decided to join in, and I am easily swayed, cocktailwards. Now it’s become a tradition, for the first drink any time we’re all at my parents’ place – Anna suggests it might be “aperitif o’clock”, dad fetches the tonic from an outside workshop, so it’s freezing, and I usually make them, so they’re strong.
Bad day cider. I don’t actually have bad days, since I write about videogames, but this doesn’t seem to detract from the profound relief of escaping the office where you work with your friends to end the week by drinking with your friends.
What I don’t miss, and what I won’t resume, is the habitual drink. I was drinking wine with most evening meals, and now that I’ve stopped, I don’t know what I was getting out of it. It was something to do, particularly while cooking, and it seemed obviously superior to any other accompaniment to a meal. But it had ceased to be special, and at that point I don’t think it’s worth it.
The real point of giving up alcohol occasionally is to catch stuff like that, in the hope that if I do, I’ll never have to give it up for good.