I hadn’t had a drink since the moment I read the email. In case you were wondering I also hadn’t heard from Fraser yet. No surprise there though. It probably takes more than a week to “get your life together”? (Spoiler Alert: It took a lot longer.)
At that point it had been somehow easier and much more difficult than I had imagined. It turned out that my problem with alcohol was simply that once I started I couldn’t stop. I didn’t immediately miss it. No withdrawals. No shaking or sweating or anything awful. No headaches. No overwhelming NEED to drink. I got off easy. I still to this day can’t imagine what it must be like to go threw an actual withdrawal from an actual chemical addiction. I mean, I did once go a couple days without coffee and the headaches were out of this world. So that’s kind of what it’s like I imagine? No? Okay.
But it’s still a real adjustment going from being a guy known to get drunk to being a guy who doesn’t drink. In the first week alone I had discovered that even though we may not notice it……it turns out we get offered booze on a pretty regular basis during a normal week. Or at least I did. It had been a week and I’d already had several conversations based around “no thanks, I quit drinking but it’s nice of you to offer.” Followed shortly after by this classic line, “no I’m just too damn good at drinking so I decided to go out on top like the booze drinking version of Michael Jordan.” Unlike Jordan though I never wanted to make a comeback.
Working in a radio station didn’t help when people were “celebrating” at regular intervals. Celebrating what? I am still not sure. Probably some awesome break I did between generic country songs (which is basically all of them) where I accidentally stumbled my way into saying something funny.
So, as an aside, here is something I actually used to do to kill time. I would go on Facebook and message a few friends and get them to tune into my radio station. Then I would ask them to give me 4 words that they wanted me to say on the air. They had to be clean. But they most definitely didn’t have to relate in any way. The less they related to each other the better. Then I would find a way to stitch together a story using those 4 words in the minute I had to fill between songs. Sometimes I would magically find a way to tell a story in 60 seconds that used the words elephant, grouting, Christmas and singe. And it would work. Other times? Disaster. More disasters than successes probably although for some reason I can only remember the successes right now!!
Imagine if I’d tried just being good at being on the radio instead?
Going out on the town is hard when you don’t drink. Where else can you go in a small town other than a pub? There aren’t really any restaurants just boozie pubs that serve food as well. Plus I was living way up North and it was winter so there wasn’t much to do outside because, you know, it was really cold. No movie theater. A bowling alley where you felt there was a decent chance you were going to get stabbed.
But where it got a bit tricky was where I was living. My friend Jeff had taken me in when I needed a place to stay and he had a spare room in his house open up. Among other things Jeff was a bartender at a local nightclub. (if you are wondering, no, that’s not how we met but yes I did “visit” him at work. A LOT) Because of his profession as a purveyor of the liquor refreshments Jeff had a selection of booze at his house like you would not believe. The guy had more liquor than some pubs. Every kind of mix you could think of and then more. He had every flavour of Bols (whatever the hell that is) in his liquor cabinet. And he loved to host. So we had people coming over all the time. Sitting around the kitchen table (a beauty of a table that I helped pick out if I do say so myself) playing cards and drinking. Our mutual friend Sean telling epic stories and enthralling the masses. Booze flowing.
So that’s where I was living. And I had to say no to getting drunk.
To top things off I had decided to quit drinking one week before Christmas. One week. Christmas. The booziest of all holidays. At the time I was living in a town called Fort St John where John is most likely the patron Saint of adultery and drug abuse. It was a booze haven. Not the best place or time of year to try and quit.
But it gets worse.
On Day 5 I had flown home and was now engaging in Christmas eve celebrations without drinking. Which was tough for me. And then in the week and a half that followed I had to go to parties and catch up with old friends that I only saw a few times a year. And I had to do it sober. Plus, New Year’s was approaching.
What a difficult time. Obviously I wanted to get drunk with my friends. It’s what I did.
But also I was embarrassed about what had happened plus the shame and anger. Those emotions made me want to drink. So yeah. It was tough. Lots of things were pushing me to want to drink.
Only one thing making me want to stop. My goal of getting through the day without drinking.
There are a lot of numbers floating around about how often a goal is achieved if it’s written down. And to be honest I am not sure how much truth there is in those numbers. I mean, really, who is doing that study? How big was the sample size in terms of both people and the number of goals they set? What was the control group? How do you measure how often people achieve things when they DON’T set a goal because without a goal it’s like there is no way to achieve something, right? Am I making sense? Have I asked enough questions?
That paragraph was probably the most question mark heavy paragraph of all time.
But the internet does say that setting goals is very effective. So I began setting more goals.