Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not Drinking During Hard Times

It is so easy to drink a little bit here and there to convince yourself that you don’t have a problem at all. You’ll find that you congratulate yourself more frequently, too, about finding a balance in your life, and you’ll wonder who that strange socially awkward person was who tried to stop drinking—why did that make any sense at all? That’s how I felt about myself last September, when I decided, after six months to the day, to have a drink. I decided to take the GRE. In fact, I had decided to try to do a lot of really ambitious things when I stopped drinking that time. For the record, it was March 8, 2009 when I stopped. And it was September 8, 2009, when I started. Also for the record, I’ve been sober since June 25, 2010 until, well, until today, so far—and so good. I didn’t have a drink last night when my friend did. I didn’t have a drink today. What did I do today? Well, it was alright: went to a local MBA program and spoke with entering honors students (the cream of the crop so called)—they were supposed to pitch themselves, individually, in 90 seconds, and then receive feedback (from me). It was a great event, mostly because I had a chance to interact with people, perform some analytical task, and try to motivate people toward something. Not as if they needed motivation per se. They’ve been getting plenty of that. Odd factor was that I have much less experience, particularly financial, than they did, and that was alright by me, after a round. Even got some praise that we were by far the “best group” of critiquers (from the critiquees). Fine. Dandy.

And then we wandered into the “social” part of the event and my colleague went for a glass of wine. Then another. And perhaps a third. He is totally competent and absolutely delightful and great: what I’m saying is his drinking wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I had a particularly hard night last night. A vicious fight spread, gasoline fueled, in less than one minute, for a minor infraction of a code that isn’t written down, and one that I thought I had memorized hard by now. I didn’t, or don’t, and I still don’t know how the situation will be resolved. And, yes, I’m on a tangent. But this whole blog is a bit of a tangent, and that’s just how it’ll be. The rich smell of red wine in clear plastic cups, and the pungency of my sobriety sticking out Pinocchio-like through the room. Of course nobody noticed. I didn’t drink. I left and didn’t drink. But I did smoke a cigarette, which kills me, both literally and figuratively, because I don’t want to turn to an addictive substance when times are hard. That’s kind of the point, or at least some distant cousin of the point, genetically mutated or not, to teetotaling.

And again, drinking a little bit when you feel decent isn’t the challenge, really. Because the last time I stopped drinking I did well on the GRE that day. Better than I thought I would. So I decided to have a drink, then see a movie. Somehow, though, I decided that I had to have two drinks, not just one drink. Why? If I was going to break six months of commitment, I had to get a little buzzed, and one drink wouldn’t do it. Even then, one drink couldn’t suffice (I’m not a lightweight physically, as far as rationales go)—I swore that I would continue to abstain after those drinks, but of course, I couldn’t. A mere three days later a large family type party ensued with much beer, and many happy tidings, and celebration, and, well, I drank it all up—all night long. There goes six months. Bye bye.  Funny.  Because I don't want to keep track of time like that, but it is a practical necessity, I think, now.

And now, hello, again, to the edge of eight weeks. Two months. Holding steady until today, where the windows felt damn thin against the cold air of late summer.

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