Guess who’s not drinking? It’s me. And like anyone who recently gave up something fun, I’m overcome by the urge to publicly rationalize my decision. Quit the gym? It’s a waste of money! Quit smoking? That stuff will literally kill you. Quit dating? We’re born alone and we die alone, so why not spend what precious time you have re-watching Boston Legal.
I’ve quit loads of things, so you’d think by this stage I would be comfortable waving my bad habits goodbye without the need to stand in their receding shadows and deliver a final soliloquy.
Ha—no. I’m going to talk about this. I want the Gold Star that comes from sharing healthy life-changing experiences, regardless of whether you Eat, Pray, Love types want to hear about it.
1. Learn to embrace your inciting incident
Want to make a change for the better? You’re going to need a pretty good reason to do it. For me, the best reasons come in four shades of the same motivational group: shame, embarrassment, shock, and something that sounds like saying “why” over and over at the bottom of a running shower. Whatever incident gets you to one of the above shades is your entry point to better life choices, easy!
Personally, I choose shame. There really is nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning and wishing you were dead to spark that enthusiasm to maybe become better than you are. After all, what’s the point of vomiting in your beanie on the subway unless you can use it to propel you from “I want to die” city all the way to “competent adult” town?
2. Find your bottom-of-the-barrel buddy
Misery loves company, and there’s nothing more miserable than facing your demons in the startling light of sobriety. Even if, like me, you relegate your belligerent side to the occasional weekend bender, memories of your slovenly, slutty, or garden-variety shit-faced actions will rise up like White Walkers and be back to haunt you in no time!
For help surviving these revelations find someone going through the same thing. Get a seltzer together and share your shame. Rub your shames together to set a big shame fire, then sit back and bathe in the light of what a crappy human being you can be. Together, you’ll realize that we’re all shitty people sometimes and it’s better to let it go than turn your repressed shame into an aneurysm later on.
Either that or you can go back to drinking and pretend you’re always awesome.
3. Bored stiff? Reconsider your definition of fun
Anything can be fun after a bottle of wine. Conversations sparkle, street-meat is a miracle, and dancing is not tiring or sweaty. You look at the world through rosé-colored glasses, and think, wow, everything is so fun. In fact, it’s so fun I think I might go throw up for a bit!
So much more is the pity that when you stop drinking, you’re forced to realize that most of your conversations are just you waiting to talk, street meats are dubious ham-mittens, and dancing is, essentially, exercise.
Fight the boredom that comes with sobriety by letting yourself explore the world like a kid forced to play outside. Rediscover hobbies. Do you like painting? Do you like sports? Could you learn that instrument? Or tell someone to go fuck themselves in another language? The possibilities are endless.
It’s amazing how many varieties of fun there are—almost as many as wine— so many that you might just wonder why your #1 hobby was pouring liquid into your mouth.
4. If it gets too deep, get shallow
Drinking isn’t good for you. However, it is good for is allowing us to momentarily forget how we’re shackled to our conscious minds and will eventually die. Fun! There’s not much you can do about that without substituting alcohol for something else, or I dunno, finding inner peace?
All I know is that you can counteract all the deep thoughts—What’s the point? What does it all mean?—with some nice shallow thoughts, like:
- “Wow, I’m less fat!”
You can expect to lose two percent of your body weight in your first month of not drinking. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, you’re not filling your body with sugar.
- “I didn’t fuck anything up today”
Without alcohol you sleep sounder, your brain function improves, and you’re literally able to think better.
- “I don’t suck!”
Depression and anxiety lessen, and you generally are able to feel better about yourself.
- "I’m slightly less poor!”
Drinking costs money. And the more you drink, the more rounds drunk you wants to buy for all your new friends.
5. But why tho? Realize the reason before you chuck the solution
Finally, if you’re going to get through a month without drinking, it helps to understand why you like drinking in the first place. Is it social? Is it an escape? Is it that you’re part of a criminal underbelly and need to keep up a tough-guy persona? Whatever it is, removing the solution without addressing the reason is a great way to make life real shitty, real quick.
You’d be surprised how many different solutions are available to solve a problem, once you realize what the problem is. You might even discover you can easily spend time with people without drinking or that holding a shovel and a bag of lime will always be more intimidating than nursing a glass of whiskey.
Whatever solution you come to, even if it’s that you like drinking for everything that it is, at the end of the month you’ll be able to make the best decision for you: even if that decision is getting on the internet and telling everyone about it.