So i stopped drinking. Or rather went on a sabbatical. 3 weeks, 21 days. The time it takes to break or form a habit. Also because I read somewhere that if you can stop cold for 3 weeks without any external help then you have no drinking problem. I’m currently on day 15 and since it’s a Sunday I’m sure I’ll make it
“I heard you quit alcohol.”
Friends would tell me. Immediately my heart would beat faster. I would get scared. Is that what I did?
“No I just stopped. Just stopped, not quit.”
Here’s a really shitty thing about not drinking for a set period of time: the world is angry at you for trying this bullshit. I went for a wedding and a wedding after party on the first Friday of my not drinking. Everyone was happy, and people celebrate with alcohol, I had to sit this out and still have as a good a time as I could. The next Saturday another of my friends was sealing dowry negotiations. This was yet another night when happiness spilled in the air and demanded alcohol. That happens to everyone who stops drinking for a while. A reason will crop up. A great reason. A reason that demands a compromise. A once in a lifetime event involving people you love, people you have drank with who want you to drink with on this the day their life changes. I kept telling myself that there will always be reasons to drink but it’s only once in a long while that you find a reason not to drink so I didn’t despite how much I wanted to.
Here’s a great good fair thing about not drinking. There is no more exhaustion. Shit, I woke up before the alarm every morning. I was fresh to work every day. I had no problems with this sector in my life. Hitting the correct number of hours of sleep. Eating every day. Proper eating. Full meals. Swallowing kilos of ugali and meat and vegetable and chapati. Shitting smooth slidy stool. None of that exploding out of your ass thing that happens with beer. None of those fearsomely dark and foul smelling faeces that are the result of one beer too many. Time too. I had a lot of time to read. Not sure I read more than usual. I had a lot of time to write and i procrastinated a lot of it away. All this time though seems to have only manifested itself in my being able to watch a movie on Sunday instead of being too tired to pay attention to anything that would be longer than an hour. Watched the toy story trilogy, watched raging bull, watched groundhog day,), watched a DC animated movie about villains that was shit- whenever they release Suicide Squad to the big screen don’t watch it. That was shit.
There is all that. All that is great BUT it’s so fucking boring. I can’t imagine that I have ever been so bored in my life. It’s not even really life. Its fucking hell, stuck in stasis, lounging in limbo, parading through purgatory. Nothing happens. I wake up and I go to work. I work it gets to be time to leave. I leave and I go home. There may be traffic there may not be. I get home. Switch on the computer. Write or procrastinate about writing. Look for something to watch. Read till I fall asleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ad infinitum.
This is what life has been for 2 weeks now. I’m so sad about my life that one day a week I take a nap just to make it pass faster. Then I wake up eat, sleep, wake up and repeat the last day all over again. I watched Groundhog Day the other day and it hit me with this story about a man whose day was the same all the time. Everyone can relate to this, to the fact that life can feel like a series of factory manufactured days. Everything is so similar that you know whether or not you are late by things other than the time. That is a feeling that’s real even when I drink. It’s worse now. I’ve lost that day when I would decide to feel a little different about life. Those days when I would put something in me that immediately made me happier, less bored, and more able to forget just how shitty the world is….
Because the world is shitty. I don’t bat an eyelid when I read an article that claims Kenyans are being force-sterilised with donated medical suppliesI don’t even have to click on that link, I believe it. It’s probably happening because the world is a fucked up place. (ed. Note- I found out that this story was mostly bullshit, what this means though is we leave in a world where the most powerful religious organisation will not bat an eyelid or do scientific research before spreading such damaging rumours). Maybe it’s not that bad but I believe it is and that’s what’s important here. My lack of illusions about just how bad life here really is means I need to not think about it sometimes. Alcohol shields it. It may not be a perfect solution but until the day I’m in love or have children I’ll hold on to this. So here we sit in a world that is both shitty and boring.
God, I miss the pint though. Someone asked me if I missed that first sip. I told him I miss everything. The smell of hops and barley in the beer the way some of it jumps off like backward meteors I miss the slightly bitter taste and the decidedly foamy texture. I miss running a beer through my mouth once and twice before I swallow it. I miss the heft of a beer bottle; I miss how easily the label comes off when it’s really cold. I miss taking a beer piss. I stand next to people in bars and they pee for so long. So long that it could only have been the result of a beer and I miss that. I miss the way beer tells you not to go take a piss until the moment when you are almost bursting.
I miss the joy of sitting down at a bar having decided that I want a drink. I miss the conversations over alcohol. I miss the happiness I feel whenever a new bottle hits my table. I miss liquor. I miss the bitterness of the first shot and the way it burns right through you telling you that what you are drinking is not something to be trifled with. I miss finding the right balance between liquor and soda. This spot is different for everybody. When you get it right you can taste the soda. It basically is soda with a kick or liquor with a lick. The warmth of liquor and something tangy off the tip of your tongue. I miss when alcohol hits your head and you feel lighter. Not metaphorically because the world’s problems are gone, nope actually lighter like something is carrying you away. I miss that.
I miss drinking on a Friday night when you have put the office aside. You are surrounded by so many fellow revellers. People are happy and loud. They have been set free from all the bullshit their weeks are filled with and at this moment they are happy. Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains Roseau said. On Friday night you see the unshackling begin. It’s a night filled with so much promise. Friday night out is in fact what life is.
On Saturday I am usually hungover and I go to the office and don’t work. Here’s the thing though it’s not because I’m hungover it’s because I’m there on Saturday against my choice. So when I went with no hangover I hated it even more. I realised that I even miss being slightly hungover on Saturday because it makes the time pass so quickly.
I really miss alcohol and this life I have led, this hermitage I have been assigned to has been eye-opening. I have found out that the pros of sobriety are so far outweighed by those of drinking that I can’t have a life of just that. I don’t know what people do. I have been unable to find out despite asking almost desperately from people who don’t drink what I should do. You know what it seems these people do? Have coffee with each other and go home. Shit. Life has to mean a lot more than work and a caffeinated drink that I really don’t think is ever worth what I’m asked to pay for it. So coffee drinkers you can have your sobriety I’ve tried it and it’s not for me.
At the time of posting this I had successfully done my three weeks. Great feeling of achievement and it feels like just there at the 20th day you begin to realise that its not as bad as all that. But then I still went and immediately had a drink. Realised it wasn’t as good as I had made myself believe it was and that what I had missed more than anything was the excuse to see people whose company I enjoy. Though I had missed the drink too.