Elle Severe Presents

What It’s Like To Quit Drinking, Too

In Authors, Life, Musings, One Beer In, Past Loves on August 22, 2014 by Pabby MFNP


Last August I celebrated my 10th anniversary of sobriety. The year before that I had a nice question and answer session with myself about my sobriety. It was something of a hit, relatively speaking. If you have not read it, please feel free to read it here before you read this.

Q: Well, congratulations on 11 years. How has it been going since we last spoke?
A: They say the 10th year is the hardest but I got through it okay. Just kidding. The first year was the hardest and without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever done, but then after that, I would have to say that it got progressively easier. For the most part.

Q: The ten year anniversary was kind of a big deal as it was a full decade and represented over 25% of your life. But I would imagine that 11 is not a big deal after you’ve knocked down 10.
A: Yes, it’s not really a big deal now. I try not to think about it too much. I used to have nightmares that I slipped and then I’d have to start the count all over again. I used to celebrate every anniversary and spend the whole day doing anything and everything that I wanted to do. Gambling, Six Flags, pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Basically spending it like it was like my last day on Earth.  I’d even celebrate it like girls in their 20’s celebrate their birthday months.  But now that I’m almost 40, just like them, “I can’t even.”  Also,I eventually started dedicating my weekends to my kids and I would start to feel guilty leaving them behind. Then they’d find out I was doing fun stuff and get pissed. On another note, in the beginning, I expected some kind of parade to be thrown in my honor which never came. But now I treat it like birthdays; if cake is involved and even if I buy and eat said cake by myself while crying, that is good enough for me.

Q: Oh God, I love cake. Thank God you don’t have to quit that. Did you have any setbacks or did you come close to having a drink at all?
A: No, not really. During the Superbowl two years ago, I was in Vegas and I paid like $100 for an all you can eat, all you can drink Superbowl party. There was a long line for the food and then once you got through, it wasn’t even all that good. We also got there too late to get a good seat near a TV and we had to sit on chairs that were these big saddles like they were on a horse. The cheap bastard in me came out and I said this is a GD rip off. Then the cheap bastard in me thought “if you still drank, you could get your money’s worth”. But I didn’t really consider it because I have come too f’ing far to stop now. But my mind wandered: What if I did drink one more time? Who would know? Couldn’t I just stop all over again like I did last time? But I would know, and I have a very good feeling that if I were ever to start drinking again, everyone would know and it would be even harder to quit.

Q: This reminds me of when you quit smoking in the early 90’s.
A: Yes, it was exactly like that. One day, I got fed up with smoking and realized it was terrible for me so I up and quit. I went several months without it. Then one day I got bored and said, “Well I quit before so I’ll be able to quit again.”
Q: Except the next time you went to quit, it was much harder right?
A: Yes, much harder. I ended up wishing I had never started up again. It took becoming super broke in college and having to choose between food and cigarettes and anything else I needed. Food won.

Q: Wow, you quit drinking and smoking? You have a lot of will power for someone who is always putting up Facebook posts from the Wendy’s Late Night drive thru window.
A: Hahahahaha. I’m human, alright? In any case, whenever I have been tasked with quitting something, it always seems to be the exact right time. I would stumble and stumble and never learn from my mistakes until one day I would finally wake up and say, “You know what, jackass? It’s about time you quit.”

Q: Logic rarely comes into play in situations like this. Is it true that admitting you have a problem is the first step?
A: For me being open to the idea that I might have a problem was the first step. I had spent so long telling myself that nothing was wrong because I always handled my business and I never put myself or others in danger but then the blackouts became more frequent and that was that.

Q: I remember blackouts. Those could be scary.
A: Yes, for sure. But part of me really enjoyed hearing about my adventures the next day. I’d always be terrified at first but then it would be exciting. I’d hear things and be like, “Oh wow, I did that? I said that? Oh man, I am one funny, fascinating, crazy motherfucker!”. Oddly enough, even though they were bad for me, I miss those kinds of experiences. Sure, knowing where you’re going to sleep and where you’re going to wake up certainly has its merits but there is something to be said for handing over the keys to someone else.

Q: That was a poor choice of words if I ever saw it.
A: Not literally. Except for about three early exceptions in my early 20’s, I never allowed myself near keys if I knew I was going to get drunk. Getting f’d up was something I planned way in advance. The extent to which I would plan things makes me think that perhaps I could have worked for NASA.

Q: Hahahahahaha. Oh. You were serious. Well, while you’re on the subject, what else do you miss about drinking?
A: I miss the feeling of waking up and going through the day knowing that there is going to be a reward later involving alcohol. I miss the 4th and 5th gears of having fun. I miss the simple act of unpacking a case of beer and loading it into the fridge one by one, lining it up perfectly then sitting back and admiring the view.

Q: But then eventually the beers would be taken out and the beautiful view would be gone.
A: That is just like you to bring up something like that, but yes, that is one thing that I don’t miss. Eventually the beers would go one by one and no matter how many you buy, it never seems to be enough.

Q: That is sad. Take me through becoming open to the idea that you might have a problem. Who did you discuss this with?
A: I talked it over with a good friend who was about to get her PhD and she was super helpful. She asked me a bunch of questions and challenged me to question my beliefs and my priorities. At the end of the conversation, she let me know her verdict and it was just like the scene in the Matrix when Neo met the Oracle to find out from her if he was “The One.” But instead of being told I was not the One, she confirmed that I had a drinking problem. Also, she never said, “I’m sorry, kiddo, I really am. You have a good soul and I hate giving good people bad news”, but I always wished she did. I think it would have helped.

Q: I guess I should have known you would sneak the Matrix into this. So then what happened?
A: Then I started the long arduous task of retraining my mind and changing all of my habits. When I think back to how I was and how I am now, it feels like two completely different lives. I feel like two completely different people. Sadly, I like the other person much more and he really was a funny bastard. But in this life, I have so many more opportunities than I did in the other one and I don’t make my family and friends worry about me which may be the best thing you can give someone with the exception of cannoli from Mike’s Pastry.

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