Last fall I went out of town for a few days on a business trip. And one of the things I typically do on the road is go to dinner with some colleagues. For the last night of the trip, I hit Yelp! and started looking for a brewpub. For me, the actual food type was less important than the beverages that came with it. And when I found a place with 23 beers on tap that also happened to serve barbecue, I knew where I was going to dinner.
I bring this story up because it preceded, by a couple of months, my decision to stop drinking alcohol. This led to several months without a drink, and then a couple of relapses for good cause (as I saw it) and then one final relapse earlier in the summer. I won’t go over that again here, but it was the final straw (no pun intended) in my determination that alcohol and I were finished.
My sweetheart of over twenty-five years hadn’t changed her ways since she first seduced me with wine coolers and Budweiser in cans and strawberry schnapps (and not all at the same time). No, she keeps doing what she’s always done. And I went along with with more intensity than I probably should have. Weekends were made for whatever beer happened to be on tap. In college, the weekends all started to run together, and some weekends never ended before the next weekend got started up.
All the while, I told people that I didn’t have a problem with drinking. But every time I told anyone a story about something that had happened to me, there was always drinking involved. If there was a way to have fun without alcohol being involved, I never tried very hard to find it.
Until one day last fall, on the heels of a drinking bender at a football game, I came to the realization that I had lost a large chunk of my life–and probably some part of my liver function–and I didn’t have anything to show for it. I never got convicted of anything I did when I was drunk, never got into a physical altercation when I was drunk, and–most importantly–never caused physical damage to myself or others as a result of my drinking. I spent untold thousands of dollars on alcohol, and probably acted in ways that I wouldn’t have if I had something healthier than booze in my system. But I challenged myself at that moment to make a change for the better, and right now I seem to have done it.
Word has come down that I will likely be going back to the same city this fall. My restaurant choices won’t be shaped by my drinking habits this time around. Some of my colleagues may want to return to the brewpub, since I was quite vocal in praising the beer selection and/or the food. And if asked to go along, I may join them. Or I may not. It’s too premature to speculate just yet. But a change has certainly come to my life in the past 12 months and, other than the birth of my children, it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It’s certainly worth devoting a few hundred words to here.