I took my last drink on August 17.
I don’t know if it’s my “last drink” as in, forever my last drink and I’ll never drink again. But it was certainly my last drink for quite some time.
I didn’t really start drinking alcohol until I was 21. I grew up in a household where, from an early age, I was pretty much taught that alcohol was evil. This was not the choice of my parents, but rather the product of choices their own parents made. We were not just raised in a Christian environment; we were raised in a Apostolic environment, which is to say you kept things like alcohol and anything else considered risky hidden and out of plain sight. And you never talked about it.
So I didn’t really start drinking until I was older. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I started drinking a lot. I fell in with the craft beer craze and all that, but in reality I started drinking more than I should have before that. When I got out of the Army, I started drinking because I didn’t want to sit around my house and think about the things that had happened in Iraq. So I would make one martini or two martinis and eventually just did away with all the extra things that go along with the liquor, because I wanted to get drunk.
That’s when I started drinking heavily. Most of this realization has come during sessions with my therapist. More on that in a little bit. But that’s when it started. I didn’t drink because I liked the taste. I liked it because it made me drunk. It made me forget. And then even after I’d become numb to most of the things that happened over there, I kept on drinking because I wanted to get drunk.
Eventually, I started taking Bronkaid for weight loss, and then I took Bronkaid for fun, and then I took Bronkaid because I was an addict. So I’d take the Bronkaid during the day, and then I couldn’t sleep at night. In order to take the edge off and try to sleep, I would drink. A lot.
This continued for years. I ballooned to 246 pounds, mostly on the back of whiskey and scotch and vodka and beer. I drank beer when I was around friends and family, mostly because you can’t really explain why you just drank half a bottle of scotch in one night to your mom without lying. And when I drank beer, I always looked for the beer with the highest alcohol by volume available. I drank strong beer, not for the flavor, because because I wanted to numb my brain.
I kept drinking. Then I met the love of my love. I was still addicted to Bronkaid, and I kept that hidden from her. And at night, I would drink. Far more than I should. We’d have one drink together, and it was fun. But then one drink would suddenly turn from one drink to four drinks for me, and that’s when her face would darken. I knew it upset her. I should have stopped. But I was an addict, and I was trying to figure out a way to calm the nerves created by taking massive amounts of what is essentially an amphetamine.
For me, this continued until August 17. I’d quit Bronkaid in May, though I did buy it two more times (before trashing it each time). That’s the day when I realized, driving home from World of Beer after meeting a couple of friends for beers, that I realized I didn’t really want to drink anymore. I decided to stop. And I did. I haven’t had a drink since.
I can tell you without stretching the truth that this past month has been incredibly difficult, but I have also grown in enormous ways. I know the path before me is not an easy one. I miss her very much.
But I also feel, for the first time in at least 7 years, that I have the willpower and the inner strength to handle the hill in front of me. It feels good. And I know that a large majority of that feeling and sense of empowerment comes from being able to quit Bronkaid and quit drinking alcohol. Because if I can accomplish those two things, I can accomplish anything. And health-wise, I feel better than I ever have. I think clearly. I have no hangovers and no leftover poison running through my blood. I eat clean, whole foods and drink water. I feel incredible.
I’ve come so far, in fact, that yesterday Alana (therapist) suggested I do not need to come see her every week. Every other week will do. I don’t know if I’ll take her suggestion just yet, as the opportunity to discuss things on a weekly basis is worth far more than what I pay. We’ll see.
What I do know is this: as much as this time hurts, I know it is the right thing. Because I could never have been the man I needed to be for her if we were still together. Being alone has forced me to take a much deeper look at myself and my habits and the words coming out of my mouth than I would have. If she were still in my life, I would be doing what I did the past 18 months, which was: Just enough to keep her in my life.
And that’s not what I want. What I want is a lifetime spent with her. And for that, I’ll go through whatever hell I need to go through right now, because I know at the end I will be the best version of myself I have ever been, and I will be worthy. It has not even been a month, and I already feel, sound and think better than I have since 2007. I thrill at the thought of what I’ll be like in two months.
In closing: I don’t know if I’ll ever drink again. I might. I might not. But I do know that I made a promise, that I wouldn’t drink again until she is back in my life, and I intend on keeping that promise for as long as it takes. Because I have broken enough promises in my life, and I am not doing it any more.