A short reflection on alcohol, and sobering up.
In the movie Smashed, the main character played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead admits that her recent sobriety has been somewhat anticlimactic, and that after enjoying a life of debauchery, kicking the habit did not transform her life into a fairy tale. If anything, life is now sporting a paler shade of beige.
I quit a job after 8 years, while at my peak, after winning an award for best web marketer of the year. I was a raging alcoholic. At night, I’d enjoy a few beers… usually around 12. The next morning, I would get up on time, clean up, go to work, perform, and impress. I would often call in sick, not because I was hungover—when you drink massive amount of alcohol every day, for over twenty years, you wake up with a pasty mouth, at worst—but because I was dissatisfied with my work, with the industry, with the products I was promoting. When I sobered up, I didn’t magically find happiness in the wonderful world of selling dreams. At night, I now enjoy two bottles of sparkling water. The following morning, I get up after hitting the snooze button at least four times, shave if I have a meeting with an executive scheduled, go to work, and do an OK job.
Around the time I quit my job, I checked out of a loveless marriage. When I was home, I disappeared in my man cave, got smashed, watched TV, and Facebooked the night away. It was blissful. I got out of that relationship while I was still a heavy drinker, and invested myself a year later in a new relationship with a woman who would become the love of my life, armed with a new set of ideas and values, and moving forward even though I was still a drunk. Leaving a miserable relationship and rebuilding my life around what I wanted were steps I was taking towards happiness, my happiness. I wasn’t drinking in my past relationship because I was unhappy with my couple, I was drinking because I had an addiction, and I was unhappy because of who we were as a unit. When I met my future wife, and when my daughter was born, I understood that alcohol had become a burden—I was truly happy with my new life, and wanted to enjoy my family with a clear head.
Today, I am 986 days sober—I do not find parenting easier, I am not sleeping better, and I haven’t found my dream job. But I am engaged and lucid throughout this beautiful, inconvenient, messy life.