I obviously knew that my first hangover after three months of abstinence was going to be a stinker, but it still caught me by surprise. My eyes slowly peeled open to reveal a blurry bedroom ceiling, as a sharp, poignant throb began to emanate from the bass of my skull. I had not missed this feeling; this was the reason I stopped drinking, why for three months I didn’t touch a drop, and why in that moment I was enveloped in self-denigrating guilt.
It turns out that I still have a tendency to get carried away, and it was this sudden break from my discipline over the past few months that left me with a guilty, hollow feeling. I am hard on myself, sometimes to the point of cruelty, and my guilt stemmed from a feeling that I had let myself down in some abstruse way. But what really had I done wrong? I did not make a fool out of myself, nor did I offend or upset anyone. It was that I had taken it too far, having commenced this project in an attempt to reset my relationship with alcohol and embody the ideology of moderation.
The problem with my inherent perfectionism is that it can take on two radically different forms: one is an unfaltering determination, the other is over critical self-deprecation. The former grants me the discipline to undertake amelioration projects such as this one whereas the latter allows me no sympathy should I be unsuccessful. It is this dichotomy of perfectionism that so often leaves me with the internalised message that “I am not good enough”, and I still have a long ways to go in finding an equilibrium.
Now that I have gotten that off my chest, here are some thoughts and advice learned from my time spent sober (and subsequently not):
- Productivity increases when not caught in the weekly cycle of drunk/hungover.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Having fun is not synonymous with being wasted.
- Introspection and stillness are good for you.
- Drunk people are really annoying when you are sober.
- Getting drunk is fucking expensive.
- Stress relief from alcohol is fleeting.
- It is very easy to be unfairly judgmental towards other people.
- Being too hard on yourself is a self-defeating and pointless endeavor.
- Strive to be a good person and help people. It makes you feel good.
- Everyone has internal struggles to deal with, so be nice.
- Learning new things is invigorating.
- You are better off spending money on books than beer.
- No one likes a pretentious know-it-all.
- Creativity can flourish when sober.
- Spirituality and empiricism can co-exist.
- You are stuck with yourself, so enjoy your own company.
- Nothing good happens after 1am. Go home.
After this weekend I am unsure whether I will drink again, or whether I will choose to live without it, something that I will have to ruminate on over the next few weeks. I will however try to be nice to myself whatever decision I make, and make sure that these lessons aren’t lost along the way.