Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How dry I am....

     I'm taking a little breather from alcohol lately and I thought this am, I'd chronicle the start of this adventure.

     Hello, my name is Bill and I'm a....  blog writer.   Gotcha, you thought you knew where I was going with that first line, didn't you?  That's kind of the reason for my self-imposed departure from drinking.  You see, the opinions of my friends, relatives, co-workers, and blog readers matter to me, and of late, they were connecting me and drinking and sometimes excessive drinking together a little too easily, and I didn't like it.  Now anyone following this blog, my exploits on Facebook, or me
coming out of most establishments on Saturday nights, can tell I'm a fan of alcohol, but that doesn't mean that it's a vital component of my life, so this stint of sobriety, for me, is like hitting the reset button.  If I've set a bad example with my drinking habits, which admittedly I probably have, well this will help even the scales a little, or so I hope.

     There was no "aha" moment that led to this decision, but there were a series of them that helped me to this choice.  I'm to blame right off the bat because  I celebrated my drinking exploits loudly to everyone.  Here's a quick test to illustrate my point...

1.  Name my favorite alcoholic spirit (type and brand)
2.  What is my favorite mixer?
3.  Where's my preferred spot to be on a Friday night in summer?
4.  Name 5 bars that I frequent.

I'd be surprised if most people don't get these answers right, because I talk about these things a lot and maybe to a fault.  If I asked similar questions about other aspects of my life, they wouldn't be as easy to answer, for example.....

1.  How many boys in my Scout Troop?
2.  What is my job title and area of responsibility?
3.  Name 3 books that I've read
4.  Name 3 TV shows that I follow

     How did you do?  That's why I'm taking the blame, I'm a victim of my own poor PR campaign.  I
spend a lot of time each week involved in these activities too, but I tend to advertise my drinking habits first and loudest, so I shouldn't have been surprised when the advertising campaign worked.  Another component of this is my choice of drink, which is a hard liquor, gin. I like to order double, tall, drinks to avoid going back to the bar as often, but I know some people don't get the distinction of what a double, tall is.  They hear double only, neglecting the fact that the drink I've ordered has the same ratio of alcohol to mixer as if I've ordered a single.  If I drink one of these and my companion has two craft beers during the same period, our blood alcohol contents are almost identical.  It's true that a shot and a half of a spirit has the same alcohol content as a 12 oz bottle of beer, but craft beers are typically served in a pint glass (16 oz) and can have 30-70% more alcohol content that standard beer, but I'd argue that no stigma is attached to drinking those.  It is easier to protect and monitor yourself from the "overpour" with beer though, as I truly can't know how much alcohol I am consuming when I am at bar but beer drinkers can.

     Back on point, some people had mentioned my drinking, my "need" to drink as much as I did sometimes, and I was even mistaken for being drunk one time when I was completely sober, which
made me take a step back and analyze my behaviors.  My wife and I had a candid discussion of my habits and hers, and we both decided we could do with a scheduled departure from drinking and we arbitrarily picked the end of the year as the target and that was 8 weeks ago.  I've had planned periods of sobriety before, I've given it up for Lent a few years, 2 years ago I went the first 45 days of a diet without it, and every weekend I dedicate to Scouts is alcohol free, including the week this summer that I went to Jamboree, but this is the longest time that I've chosen to not drink.  It' s a long enough time that I am also looking at how drinking and not drinking may affect my chronic arthritis too and I am looking forward to this experiment.

     It's been going smoothly so far, but I can already see how alcohol has become a habitual part of  a lot of my outings.  I was in Canada recently with a peer, and it just seemed weird to not drink with him in the evenings, and frankly I miss my bar time overall.  As an extrovert I get edgy if I don't have a large amount of social interaction each week, and this is where I had traditionally sought it.  I still
go out to them, but not as frequently, and I drink club soda or non alcoholic beers, but it seems strange to do so.  I've attended 2 weddings and it turns out that I can still dance and make as big of an ass of myself and overstay my welcome, without alcohol involved, go figure.  I went out for mocktails with my wife last week and I tripped on a rug coming out of the bathroom of a bar and I was cold stone sober, so I've discovered that I've just gotten clumsier with age, alcohol or not, but admittedly I don't feel as bad now when I spill my drinks as I would if they had alcohol in them.  I get asked a lot if I feel better, and truthfully I don't.  I used alcohol to help manage my arthritis pain, especially at night, but it's way too early to tell if I can manage it better somehow through a new diet or more exercise and try to prevent the inflammation versus medicating it afterwards.  An added benefit has been more time spent with my son who is still at home.  We've done some family game nights and some hiking on the weekends that would probably not have happened if we hadn't changed our habits.  I've been able to interact with my older children, in venues with alcohol successfully, although alcohol consumption when they visited had become the norm previously.  I hope I am setting a better example for them, as they live in Buffalo and the bars there don't close until 4, so drinking in excess is pretty common.  Lastly I was able to go to my sister. Meter Maid's pig roast, an event for me that was tied to drinking all day and night, and had a fantastic time with everyone there, sober or not (and to my niece who claims I never mention her in my blog, Hi Kelsey!). 

     So that's the sober truth of this little experiment and I'm looking forward to the last few months of it and what we can discover.  I pride myself with looking for ways to improve and this falls right in line with that thinking.  So wish me luck with the rest of this journey, and not for nothing, if you need a DD, I'm likely available, Cheers.


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