Better Late Than Never
Resolutions are a funny thing. I stumbled across a few I made at the beginning of the year. Of course, there were the requisite “lose weight, exercise, read and write more,” but there was one I filed away mentally and didn’t give much thought: do something unexpected.
The last beer I drank was on January 8th. In the weeks prior, I imbibed almost daily. It was the holiday season after all. The morning after I finished the sixer of Bud Ice in my fridge was an ugly one. Saying it was a gnarly hangover would be an understatement. Bud Ice? What the hell was I thinking? I gave myself a challenge that day: how far could I go without drinking. And if not, how far could I go without drinking crap beer?
It became a game in my household. One week came and went. Two weeks with no beer, I snacked a little more. My kiddies challenged me saying “Daddy, do it for forty days!” Lent hadn’t happened yet, so I figured that would be a nice goal. With drinking out of the way, I had other outlets to unwind. I watched a lot of television (TV on demand is a beautiful invention), read several books (graphic novels count) and jogged when I felt the urge to be irresponsible. The clarity I began to feel in the first month was a revelation. I felt more connected to my family and myself.
The longest stretch I’d gone without drink was sixteen days, due to the medication I was taking. I recalled rolling my eyes upon hearing a Backstreet Boy tearfully announce he was sixteen weeks sober during an awards show. When forty days passed, I had no cravings. Just as I was approaching eighty, my uncle passed away. Even with invitations to commiserate, my resolve remained uncharacteristically stong.
If I had to classify my level of drink, I’ve gone to extremes. There were nights I didn’t remember anything, other evenings I wish I could forget. In the last decade, I bottomed out twice–stories for another time dear reader. In short, I lived a Dionysian lifestyle, an arrogant prick who cared only for self-gratification, not caring about who got hurt along the way. “Home” was my bed and my stuff–don’t mess with my stuff. With brand new eyes, my perception of life changed. My change is a trilogy: rediscovering faith, changing my profession and finally, abstinence.
With my mental outlook changing, my physical needed an update as well. Friends complimented me on my appearance, saying my face looked thinner. Every scale I come across would be stood upon. In the months I’d stopped drinking heavily, I happily discovered a weight loss of nearly fifteen pounds. I’d like to also attribute a poor diet of one big meal a day (but drinking lots of water) and my job keeping me preoccupied to notice any hunger pains.
I wasn’t as antagonistic at home either. I did more maintenance, cooked more, helped with homework without prompt. My priorities shifted drastically with sobriety. What a concept. My home life resembled… normalcy. Fifteen years of marriage, replete with many ups and downs, more instances of worse than better. Could it be I’ve finally grown up and stopped loving only myself?
Simon leBon, lead singer of my favorite band Duran Duran, offered this gem of advice, “You’ve got to want to stay married. People these days are encouraged to be intolerant. If it’s not perfect, change it. I think marriage is based on tolerance. And laugh as much as you possibly can–at and with each other!” My entire family tolerated all of the stupid shit I’ve done in my life. And probably laughed at me. A lot. I fancied myself the notorious one in my family. I don’t need that kind of attention anymore.
I’m no saint. I believe I’m in the process of atoning for all my past mistakes. Even with all the empty bottles, angry voicemails and emails, even angrier spouses and my jar of “hearts,” I wouldn’t change a thing I’ve done. These experiences made me who I am now. No regrets. I won’t demonize alcohol, I used to sell it for crying out loud! As I’m getting older, I’ve learned restraint. I’ve learned to focus more on the people who deserve my attention.
Why is Hall & Oates’ “Family Man” playing in my head right now?
So here’s to future days, not daze. It’s getting hotter in Florida as the summer looms. Here’s to making it a summer of continuing reinvention.