On The Twelfth Day…

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drinks undrunkin,
Eleven daters dating,
Ten hours sleeping,
Nine Eagles winning,
Eight years of smoking,
Seven hugs I’m missing,
Six Salamanders,
Five family members,
Four election days,
Three months in,
Two different gyms,
And a surreal year with Covid 19!

I originally planned to make a longer, full-length post about this, but this’ll do. Last October I randomly came across a picture with the words “no beer for a year” in it. Seemed like an interesting idea. I mentioned it to a co-worker who responded with… I’m not exactly sure what to call it. He basically made it sound like an incredibly hard thing for someone to commit to, and made it seem like an impossible task for me to take on.

Previously, we had had A LOT of conversations about my past. I drank, a lot! At one point, after my first deployment, I would even go as far as to call myself a borderline alcoholic. But that was years ago. At the time of this conversation, I was averaging about a beer a month, and had been for a couple of years. So, contrary to whatever image he had of me in his head, cutting out drinking entirely wasn’t too much of a stretch.

Oddly enough, with that said, it was still harder than I thought it would be. Not necessarily avoiding alcohol. It was hard to explain to people why I was avoiding alcohol. It was hard to deal with the judgement for abstaining from drinking. Judgement that, if I’m being honest, at my worst I never passed on to someone who turned down a drink in my presence. Eventually, I stopped caring. The judgement and subsequent peer pressure just made me want to do it less and less. THIS is the main reason why I’ve indefinitely extended that “year” and have yet to have a drink (14 months baby).

However, it’s not the only reason. As I would turn down drinks, I wouldn’t isolate myself, and I wasn’t some sort of party pooper. I was right there with the boys, up and out, until 2am or later partying it up. Even during Covid, when we were quarantined together, I would hang out. This might’ve put a sour taste in my mouth. Being the sober one, watching the poor decisions people allowed themselves to make once they started drinking… This is the other reason why I have yet to return to the cool crowd.

I don’t think this will last forever. Eventually, I might end up with a drink in my hand on some special occasion… But for now, I’m good. I’ve grown to enjoy the sober side of things. And honestly, turning down a drink, even now, a year later, is pretty empowering. This post is a little longer than what I intended, so I won’t go on and on explaining how good it feels to say “no”. But, I would encourage you to try it. Just once. On an occasion where you’re around people who expect and may even encourage you to drink. Maybe something like… A holiday?

~

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

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