Since 2015, I have questioned whether or not I needed to slow my roll with drinking. On the one hand, I felt like I drank just as much or as little as everyone around me. On the other hand, we had a family member who was ill from cirrhosis of the liver. Having to deal with a sick family member caused me to pause and begin to really pay attention. (More on this story at a later time.)
Over the last few years, I played around with Sober September or Dry January. Then I played the game with myself where I wouldn’t drink during the week but had fun on the weekends. With all these attempts, I never made it all the way through a month or even the week. But I brushed these failures off. It wasn’t a big deal! Life was meant to be lived and fun was to be had. I wasn’t any different than anyone else.
But there were two specific instances that made me reexamine my drinking.
1. This past May, I declared Sober May as a birthday gift to myself. The gift of good health! Nobody was going to mess with me and I was not going to screw this one up! The first few weeks were just fine, I felt strong and in control. I was able to drink non-alcohol beer at a gathering and when I went to my favorite margarita joint, I enjoyed limeade with a salted rim. Then, there was an evening where I attended a birthday party for a friend and I was with my peeps. I was ready to rock and roll and had a game plan. I was gonna kick some ass at the bowling alley, soda would be my friend and I was going to savor every last damn mozzarella stick. The good news: I did not have a drink. Win! The bad news: I had a mild panic attack because, as the night went on, I realized how much I used alcohol to help me feel at ease in social situations. I literally had the realization while at a birthday party that I may have a drinking problem. Then my thoughts spiraled, I could hardly breathe and I was a bit teary. It was all I could do to smile and keep going with the night, but inside, I was like, “Holy smokes! What does all this mean for me?” I mulled this over for a few weeks and really started to pay attention to how I felt and started dealing with the emotions of not drinking.
2. Fast forward to the end of the month. Full disclosure, I made it Memorial Day and had a beer at a cookout we hosted. Not a full month, but damn near 28 days. (Sigh!) The following Friday, I went out with a friend and enjoyed a few glasses of wine. The evening was going beautifully and then I came home and for some reason that I will never understand, I went a bit nuts. I got angry as hornet and just started carrying on. One of my closest friends received a Marco Polo from me ranting and cussing (I was trying to be funny, but the anger came through). The next morning I woke up, deleted the post to my friend and just felt like a big old ass. I got a text from my friend asking how I felt. My response was “ashamed and embarrassed.” She giggled and wrote back, “I just meant do you need Matt to get you a McDonald’s Coke?” Ha ha!
Needless to say, the month of May allowed for some insight and as days passed, I got more and more serious about cleaning up my act and perhaps making some big changes. These two episodes served as my tipping points. It was time and I was ready to take action.