It’s now over 5 weeks since I last allowed alcohol to pass between my lips.
38 days to be exact.
Given that I’d been putting off this moment for months, years even. It’s been surprisingly easy. One morning I decided enough was enough and my dance with alcohol was over.
We’d had some good times. Some great times. Also some times I’d much rather forget. Some times I’ve forgotten that are best never remembered.
Those first few days of no alcohol were a mental battle though.
Should I get some beer in, just in case?
I definitely wouldn’t touch it unless I really, really had to but it might be nice to have it there as a backup. You know, to be safe. Keep my crutch within easy reach.
What if it got to midnight and I wanted, no NEEDED, a drink. The nearest 24 hour supermarket is an hour away and anyway, they don’t sell alcohol after 11 at night in Scotland.
I’d never survive.
The postman would find my body in the morning. Collapsed next to my car, after inhaling the fumes from my car's petrol tank.
I should definitely have some beer in to ensure I stayed alive if the worst happened. Damn, the dependency I’d created with alcohol over the years was poking at my mind.
I opted against the insurance policy. I’d done something similar before and it never worked. I’d always have “just one beer” and postpone the day I quit alcohol to tomorrow.
Tomorrow would come though and after a night of only one beer I’d wake up feeling good.
Quite wide awake. No dry mouth. The head was clear and I was functioning quite happily as soon as I woke. Not having to wait 3 or 4 hours for the hangover to clear.
Alcohol was clearly not a problem for me it was only the amount.
I didn’t need to stop completely.
I could choose to drink less and all would be good in the world.
It would be better than that, it would be great. I would still have my crutch and I would feel good. Everyone’s a winner.
Until I started drinking more again. An extra one here. A couple more there. Soon enough I’d be right back at 4 pints a night.
I wouldn’t stop there though. 4 pints became 6 became 8. Became a very grumpy, tired and hungover Matt every morning.
Soon I wasn’t drinking because I enjoyed it.
I was drinking even when I didn’t enjoy it.
When the taste of it was like battery acid. That first pint was one to be endured not enjoyed.
But hey, once you got past that first pint all was good again. The next one would taste much better. Two in the morning would arrive. I’d be starting on pint number 8 and it was like drinking sweet wine off a beautiful woman’s body. How could this be anything but pleasure?
I’d sunk even lower than before. If I didn’t make a conscious choice to change, there was only one way this life was heading and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
So I stopped.
After a couple of weeks of talking the idea through with myself. I woke up one morning and decided today was the day.
I didn’t make any big announcement to my family.
Probably this was just in case I failed.
I wanted to protect myself from 'that' conversation when I opened my first beer.
Not only would I have to deal with my own disappointment with myself. I’d have to see the disappointment in the eyes of my family. I’m not sure which would hurt most
So I stopped.
Once I’d committed myself. Made that decision, it wasn’t that tricky.
I spent a couple of weeks rolling the idea around in my head.
I didn’t set any date.
I woke up one morning and decided that was it.
I was clear this time, there was no doubt in my mind this was happening today and I wouldn’t ever drink again.
The hardest part was sleeping.
The first few weeks or so of sleep were tricky.
I was no longer lying down and passing out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I actually had to fall asleep naturally. I struggled with this at first. Tossing and turning for what felt like hours but over time it became easier.
I do feel much better for it also. The beer gut, that was creeping its way into my life and obscuring the view of my feet, has receded. I wake up early every morning feeling bright and awake. My complexion is clearer and my eyes are brighter.
Most of all, I don’t miss alcohol one bit. I’m both surprised and very, very happy at that.
38 days of freedom.
One day I may stop counting the number of days.
Right now, though. It’s a number I’m proud of.