Cheers To Not Feeling Guilty

 I drank Saturday night.

Oddly enough, l do not feel guilty about it.

If you do not know, l made a goal for myself to not drink this year. 

No extreme catalyst, no rock bottom story, no story of drinking being evil and tearing apart my home life.

I just wanted to see if I could do it. 

I lasted 7 months.

I have tried in the past and not succeeded and obviously, repeated that pattern.

Friends, the kind of wonderful friends that you may not talk to all the time but you easily fall right back in step with like a day hasn't gone by friends, came into town.

We caught up at  a local restaurant laughing, reminiscing, commiserating and sharing about everything life has brought us to and l wanted a drink.

I knew before l went out, that l wanted a drink. Not in sense where one drink turns into a few, a few turn into shots and shots turn into a pounding head and a sick feeling the next day.

Just a drink to relax. Enjoy with friends.

One of the reasons, l think, l wanted to stop drinking was because it was becoming my go to activity.

Bored? Tie one on.
Happy? Time for happy hour.
Long day? Had a relaxing drink.
Friends and family visiting? Let's drink.
Friday night? Bar night.
Celebration time? Cheers!
Random Tuesday off? Time for a tottie!

It seemed never ending.

There is a part l feel l am leaving out and to fully comprehend why l gave myself a break, l need to share it. 

The crowd l was hanging out with were enthusiastic drinkers to say the least. 

To be clear, they never said l had to drink but there was a pressure. 

Literally, we started the night with shots, hard drinks, followed by more shots and harder drinks. The places l frequented knew to have tequila and jack and coke waiting for me.

Never a 'what can l get you today' but rather 'l'll be right back with your order hun'. l could have said something, l could have asked for a beer, a water or even a menu but that image l felt l had to maintain always won out in the end.

If l am to be brutally honest, there were some feelings l was going through, rather growing through, that was easier to deal with drinking until becoming an incoherent mess.

At the time, it made more sense than realizing l never had a truly fufilling conversation with the people l was holding company with.

Or worse, l was neglecting an honest dialogue with myself.

Although l drank hard, it was rare that l did not know what was going on around me.

I had built up a tolerance.

There are things you need to build up tolerance for in life, like ignorant people or spicy food. 

Alcohol should not be on that list. Well, at least not mine.

I slowly ebbed out of that group. 

Before giving up though, l offered to do other things than drink-craft, farmers market, movie nights, going for walks, bonfires and it was always declined followed by an invitation to a bar.

I wanted to see if l could enjoy life without tossing a few back a couple nights a week.

I wanted to see if l craved it like l had a small fear l would.

I did not want to screw my labwork up after having results of elevated liver enzymes after the beginning of the year.

So l started doing things l had wanted to do.  

Poetry readings at open mic, art projects, long walks, blogging, entering writing contests, and whatever tickled my fancy.

I did not have the urge to drink, to get a little schnauckered.

Instead, l found myself in diving into new and wonderful things. A little scary at first, but wonderful nonetheless.

I grew from finding out about what l could live without, and more importantly from finding other activities that brought me much more happiness.

A part of me wants to scold myself for giving in, for giving up, for not making my goal.

There is a tiny part of me that is disapppointed that l did not make it a year.

In that tiny part lives the suggestion, to restart my year of not drinking, of challenging myself again.

I just do not want to.

Do not need to.

I do not believe that ones character or morality is defined by what they do not do.

Virgin? Good for you, that is not a measure of your worth though.

Straight edge? Not indicative of anything l truly care about really.

Vegetarian? Well, l am overly fond of you because you leave me more bacon in this world, so l may think a little higher of you.

But the stuff you do not do does not define you, dignify you, represent you in your entirety in any way shape or form.

Just like everything you do, enjoy, and participate in does not define you.

Those are all small aspects of your life that help shape and form you, but we are much more than those things.

I do not feel guilty, mainly because l did what l  WANTED to do.

I felt no pressure, no need to drink, no want to prove myself or define my awesomeness by drinking everyone under the table.

I was able to be myself and relax and simply have a good time.

I cannot tell you if l will drink again this year or not, but l do know now l am strong enough to say no when l want to and comfortable with myself to say yes when l am in the mood.

I find the only way fitting to end this post is with a toast, so next time you take a sip (whether it is a bottle of your finest Dasani or a shot of Jack) maybe toast yourself with this?

"May your friends be true, your life happy, your sorrows forgotten, your movies sappy.

Remember to smile, to forgive, forget and to learn. Accept shortcomings and mistakes,  never for them mourn.

Be kind, be lovely, buy your pals a drink or two.

Be confident, be blessed, be honest and true,
in whatever you choose to do, whatever you do just promise to be the one and only you!"


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