I might have mentioned that I took a month off of drinking and smoking. I had a Dry July. I decided to abstain from alcohol and cigarettes because I could see I had been imbibing a little too frequently and whenever that happens I bum cigarettes like a bad friend.
I hadn’t realized the extent of how alcohol effected my body. My fingers and toes stopped swelling within days, something I thought the Summer heat was responsible for. My short-term memory improved, and I was quick witted again. I was also a little irritable.
Did you know that the term “beer belly” really means something?! My upper tummy was distended at the beginning of the month and nearly gone by the end. I don’t think I lost anymore than 7-10 pounds (I didn’t weigh myself, but I lost an inch off my waist and hips), but I wasn’t bloated anymore. The beer belly I’m talking about sat right up on the underside of my ribs, I still have a sexy pot belly lower, near my waistline.
The month was a little bit of a lonely one. I still went out with my friends, but instead of ordering a beer or gin and tonic, I had ginger beer. One bar even had horchata, which was delicious and awesome. However, while I was out I wasn’t on the same wavelength as the people around me. My friends had caught a wave of happiness that was amplified by the goofy-silliness of booze. I enjoyed their company, but I was bothered by other things like mosquitoes, guys needlessly bumping into me, and noise levels… things my friends didn’t seem to really notice because of a level of intoxication I didn’t have.
I also lost patience with repeating myself and people losing track of conversation because of how drunk they were getting. There was a definite divide between me and them and it made me feel lonely. I couldn’t complain, though, I was at a fucking bar. People go there to do exactly that.
Towards the end of the month I noticed that there was a spike in random strangers smiling, waving, and pointedly saying hello to me when I’m out at the store or running errands. Passengers hit on me more. My clothes fit better, I’m assuming my face looks less haggard, and I am more alert. I don’t think I’m necessarily happier, but I feel better.
I went to a show on August 1st and drank. There was no urgency to have that drink, I didn’t celebrate the end of my one month of sobriety at midnight with a beer, I didn’t have a mimosa with brunch, but as soon as I arrived at the bar it felt good to have that first gin and tonic. It felt REALLY good to have a second drink, but by the third I was bored with it. I had a forth (I was at the bar for nearly 4 hours) and my feet got swollen. I was good and drunk, but I was sober enough to have good conversation, play pool, and call a cab home. I had a mild hangover in the morning, but nothing to write home about.
Now, in conclusion, I feel like I’m not going to drink much anymore. I might have a beer or cocktail if I go out for a special occasion, but it won’t be a weekly Monday bender because “HEY IT’S MY DAY OFF LETS GO GET DRUNK!” There isn’t that urge to have a beer at the end of every shift because that’s what ya do, right? I don’t want to quit altogether, but it’s something I can do without until there’s something to celebrate. My body and my brain will thank me. It might get a little lonely seeing as Wisconsin is such a bar-centric culture, though.
Hugs and props to you. As someone who also doesn’t drink much, I know the loneliness concern you have. But I’ll be honest, when I say “yes” and go out anyhow, it’s still usually a lot of fun. The trick for me has been to not be blatant about the fact that I’m not drinking. Wisconsin has a huge drinking culture, like you noted, so people bug about it ALL THE TIME. And yet, if I discreetly order a non-alcoholic drink at the bar, or at after parties, just drink out of my water bottle, people think I’m drinking anyways, and then it’s like we’re “sharing” that experience. I remember one after party, actually, where folks were trying to get me to take shots and I said I had something in my water bottle (I did–it was water) and my teammates were like “yeah! you look a little tipsy!” It will forever amuse me to no end. Good on you for experimenting! Only you can decide what’s more important to you in the end, but now it can be an informed decision.