non-alcoholic can of beer upside down

Why I’m Going Sober, without all of the details

I had my first drink two weeks before my 18th birthday. The last drink I had was two weeks before my 38th birthday. 20 years, almost to the day. It took me that long to figure out my relationship with alcohol. In the end, I had to put the glass down.

I was at a house party the first time I drank. I think I was drinking Smirnoff Ice. I remember turning to my girlfriend at the time and telling her, in front of all of her friends, that my penis is darker than the rest of me. Later that night, we were surprised when we caught a reflection of our legs in the wall mirror as they dangled off the side of the bed. My legs reflected brilliantly in the low light of the room. We could barely see hers, pale and white as they were. I was wearing knee-high socks.

This is how it started. A few fun stories to share, some more intimate than others.

As time went on, alcohol started to appear more often in my life. It became the social lubricant that I needed to feel comfortable enough to share with people the stories that I wanted to tell them. In my soberest state, I often say more than I should. Alcohol helps too much a little bit more slide out.

Not every time was a good time with the drink, but it was hard to see that with beer goggles on. Each blow was softened, as if I was being punched under water. I didn’t know that I was also drowning slowly.

Hindsight isn’t 20/20. It’s a bitch. When I look back on the last 20 years, I don’t see all of the fun times that I had with a drink in my hand. I can’t remember most of them. What I see through that looking glass are the embarrassing, dangerous, and reckless things that I did. The cost — financially, emotionally, and personally — was too high to be sitting here today with as little as I’ve been able to keep of those countless nights.

When I look in the mirror today, all I see is what wasn’t pissed away. I can’t help but think of what my life would look like if I had put messages into those bottles instead of hope and trust.

It couldn’t have been any different. I made those decisions and this is what they led to. I’m lucky that things didn’t fair worse. The potential was certainly there.

Two weeks before my last birthday, I had another decision to make. I didn’t go down without a fight, but, in the end, I was empty and the bottles were still half full. They could have gone a few more rounds.

I do feel a sense of loss and know that nothing will ever replace alcohol. But, it’s time for me to pull up my socks.


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