Today my husband came home with a six pack of our old standard beer, which is hard to find here in Ontario. I had a twinge of longing. A twinge of sadness. This is the kind of stuff I was afraid if when I thought about quitting drinking: that I’d long for the fun parts of drinking: trying new drinks, enjoying favorite drinks. Talking about new drinks and old favorites. The occasional nights when getting plastered on good Scotch was really fun.
Do I miss these things? I have to be honest: not very much. I’m surprised as hell, believe me. Working on Month Four here, I’ve been thinking back to all the trepidation of quitting. I could not imagine my life without alcohol in it. I was scared shitless I’d never have fun again.
The thing is, the fear is worse than the thing itself. It’s like getting a shot when you’re a little kid: you expend masses of energy being terrified of the pain. Then it happens and you’re like, “that wasn’t so bad.”
This is where it really helps to hang out with sober people and see them being happy. You do have to see this to believe there is life after drinking, because your boozy brain will do everything in its power to persuade you that if you stop drinking Fun Will Die.
But how much “fun” was I having, really? I do sometimes miss relishing the first bit of a nice beer or wine or G&T. But honestly, honestly after the few first sips it all got pretty mindless. You stop enjoying, and then you’re just drinking. That’s how it really goes. I think we do a lot of confusing “fun” with “habit.” Even if our habits are bad for us and make us miserable, there’s a sense of safety in them, right?
So I’ve done some mental math. After 108 days of sobriety:
- Number of times I’ve thought: “This would be more fun with booze:” 0.
- Number of times I’ve wished I could have a drink: After the first couple of weeks, maybe once or twice a week.
- Number of times I’ve longed for a drink for more half an hour or so: a handful. Maybe four or five times. But then it passed and I didn’t die or lose a limb or my mind or anything waiting it out.
- Number of times I’ve wanted wine with dinner: Several, but for five minutes and then I’m over it. Most of the time I don’t notice now.
- Number of times I’ve thought “Being sober is awesome!” Every. Damn. Day. No kidding.
So if I add up all the minutes in my life over the last (almost) four months, I figure the waking hours I’ve spent genuinely miserable that I’m not drinking are… man really hardly any. On the other hand, the number of moments I’ve felt proud of myself, or like my life has new possibilities… those little moments happen daily. And waking up without a hangover of any sort: the novelty has not worn off yet. So on balance, the “good” feelings that have come out of all of this have outweighed the cravings and frustrations a hundred-to-one, I’m sure.
I don’t want to minimize the fear of quitting — the fear of No Fun and imagining what the hell you are going to do with yourself, or who you’ll even be if you aren’t a drinker. I have felt all those things in spades. It’s just strange to think back to that fear and see, in retrospect, that quitting looked so much bigger and scarier than it has actually been.