Six months ago I stopped drinking alcohol. I still remember the moment: I was on a ski trip in the Swiss Alps with a group of my friends and it was well past 5am. They were still up partying while I was in bed, trying to sleep. That week I had just read a book called This Naked Mind about the effects of alcohol, and realized what it was making me into a person I didn't want to be. Alcohol was not my friend.
To be clear: my life was never out of control with booze - I would have at most two beers every weekday night, and a bit more on the weekends. But it was my brain that was out of control. The quiet, everyday cravings - the wanting. Alcohol seemed to be controlling my mind, to be taking away my ability to concentrate and focus completely on myself and what I wanted to accomplish in life.
After quitting I've realized how more patient I've become, allowing me to be more open toward learning about myself and others. It opens up new pathways in how to think that I couldn't quite access through the haze of booze. It allows me more time to feel alive in my own body, to feel physically healthy and fit.
Quitting drinking hasn't made my life perfect, at all. It sucks to be left out of invites because friends think that I wouldn't be interested. It's lame when people don't feel comfortable with their own drinking so they push a drink in my face. And yes, sometimes I do miss how easy it seems to be to go out, have fun, and be social.
But ultimately - is it worth it? No. I'm not under any delusion that alcohol actually helps me have more fun; and when I came to terms with that - that I can still tell jokes and laugh and dance - I actually had more fun. I'm happier, and more free. The reality of my life is raw, and beautiful, and I'm capturing it all real time.
Quitting alcohol allowed me to think, to evaluate, to understand. It unleashed clarity, where I could scan the contours of this messy brain, dive deep into its inner workings and see how these workings were affecting how I wanted to pursue life. How I wanted my own story to turn out - not the story mixed in with a controlling, harmful substance.
And the story still unfolds...