One Year Has Flown By
Some of you know that I am currently on a break from drinking alcohol. I started this temporary break back in January 2016 with the intentions of joining the “Dry January” pledge. Dry January is a growing social movement with the participants abstaining from alcohol entirely for the month of January.
My month long Dry January pledge from 2016 has somehow now organically extended into an entire year free from booze. For someone who was a craft beer enthusiast and consistent moderate drinker of red wine, it is surprising to me how little I actually miss drinking. It is probably closer to the truth to say drinking alcohol is not being missed at all.
Drinking alcohol was fairly woven into the social fabric of my life, yet it was dropped with no detriment to my ability to relax, be social, or have fun. There has been little to no feelings of restriction or the feeling that I am missing out on anything based on my ongoing decision to not drink.
My life has actually now been opened up to an entirely new realm of possibilities which I am experiencing through a deeper range of physical and emotional planes. I think it is these new experiences that have mainly driven my break from booze beyond a year now.
In my previous article about my break from booze, I touched on some significant changes I had experienced. These change mainly focused on immediate physical benefits I had experienced, such as upticks in my overall energy levels and an increase in my ability to have deeper and more restorative nights of sleep.
A year later, I am becoming aware of some other changes. Changes that may have been more subtle than the immediate physical differences, but might also be more powerful and impactful for my life in the long run.
These are the continued changes my life has undergone after a year-long break from booze:
I Author My Own Words
In the past, even after drinking just one beer, there could and would tend to be a loosening of my manner and mood. Probably partly psychological as much as physiological, alcohol is indeed a social lubricant.
For me, at times this felt useful in dealing with social anxieties, but there was clearly diminishing returns on the usefulness. I would often second guess a certain joke I made or regret a question I asked of someone in fear I only uttered those words because of a false bravado that drinking a beer had emboldened me with.
Looking back now I am starting to think that drinking may have actually compounded my anxieties and insecurities, knowing on some level I was not truly displaying the most centered and authentic version of me there was.
In my twenties, I nearly painted myself into a caricature by often playing the role of the boisterous and fun-loving clown. Do not get me wrong, I love having fun and still retain my sophomoric sense of humor, but I had positioned myself as the court jester amongst my friends. Continually playing the clown role can become a tiring and burdening approach to life.
While I had shed that persona years ago and did lots of growing up in my early 30s I believe I held onto some of those insecurities through my adulthood when in social settings. This past year, while on a break from drinking, I have never felt more self-assured or displayed a truer sense of myself when out and about in social settings.
If I felt the urge to be silly or crack a joke I know full well it came from an honest desire to share laughs with my friends and could not be second-guessed at all as behavior emboldened by a drink.
I Experience A Deeper and Wider Range of Emotions
This was not an immediate revelation when my break from booze commenced, but it is real and it is tangible. Feeling a wider range of emotions is not something anyone should be afraid of, but rather something we should all aim to experience.
The joy is deeper and at times reaches near mystical levels. The sadness and hurt hit at the gut level, but you are in tune with it, you process it, and move through it. I am incredibly thankful to be experiencing a broader range of feelings for what life brings my way.
My adult drinking, after fully retiring from the madness of my twenties, mainly consisted of 2 glasses of wine a day. It would be considered drinking within the realm of healthy and moderate alcohol consumption. While the drinks typically did not exceed the 2 glasses per day, I can now clearly see having just 2 glasses on a recurring and daily pattern does and did impact on some level my ability to generate, feel, and process emotions.
There was a subtle and understated numbing occurring. My emotions were being muted at either end of the spectrum keeping my experiences and feelings hunkered down in the dispassionate middle.
The middle of the emotional spectrum is not where the magic of the human experience occurs. This is not all about continually reaching for the highest of joys either. Being open to truly feeling hurt and sadness is a core part of the human experience and is vital for growth.
In just one year’s time, I have expanded my emotional range and felt things like never before. I believe this is directly attributable to the elimination of the dampening effects of recurring and moderate alcohol consumption.
I Am Sharper Mentally
This past year has been the most successful and fulfilling year of work ever at my primary job. I qualified, for the first time, for the Masters Club, which is an honor bestowed on employees who exceed certain sales metrics over an extended period of time.
I have been in my current industry now for 8 years, over two different stints, and this is the first time I have locked down this honor. There is no doubt I have grown, stretched, and developed as a working professional over the past several years which played the most significant part of achieving this honor, but I also refuse to excuse the timing of my break from booze as a mere coincidence with winning this award.
I am sharper and have more mental focus now than at any point in my life before. I am also enjoying interactions with colleagues and clients on a much different level now than at any time before in my career.
While achieving this success at my primary job I have also launched this site, Still Feel 21, and dedicated a significant amount of my personal time and energy to work on writing and trying to learn ways to develop an audience online.
It is a project of passion driven by my desire to be a writer and further driven by the hope I hold of sparking interest in my peers for improving their life experiences. This process of writing and publishing articles online has pushed me far outside of my comfort zone, but I am working to honor a calling I feel deep within my core.
It is a calling I am heeding with clarity, a clarity I feel was able to arise partly because of my current break from booze.
I have expended a massive amount of mental energy this past year on both my primary job and this site. Being fully relieved from faint wine headaches and a foggy mental capacity has played a direct and powerful role in my ability to not only undertake both commitments but to enthusiastically embrace the work and be formally recognized by my primary employer.
I Have Been Freed From Alcohol-Related Minutia
Consistent and recurring trips to the wine and spirits store are now gone. Discussions over who will be designated driving for weddings and parties have ceased. Precautions and hoop jumping to avoid hangovers are no longer needed. I now see there was a good bit of stuff swirling around my casual drinking. Stuff that occupied space in my head and time in my day. Stuff that I am happy to be enjoying a reprieve from.
A Year Without Booze
My decision to take a break from booze has created one of the most fascinating years of my life. I continue to be amazed at the uptick of energy, clarity, and full range of emotions I have been experiencing.
I am not a champion for sobriety. I am not a proponent of teetotaling. I expect to someday again enjoy a life experience like drinking a Guinness in Ireland with my cousins, having a glass of wine at the beach with my wife and parents, or sipping a beer with my son when he turns 21 to model a healthy approach towards enjoying a drink.
I do believe in the middle road for most which is keeping a balanced perspective on alcohol and maintaining a casual ability to moderate drinking, as opposed to irrationally demonizing and abstaining from it.
I am now, however, questioning the role alcohol played in my life and questioning the prominent position that society seems to place alcohol within our lives. This past year has completely blown apart any of my previously held beliefs about drinking alcohol. I am now better positioned in the lane of life because of it.