Nearly two years have passed since I made the decision to cut out the booze. It seems such a long time ago now and something I reflect on fairly regularly.
Initially this was a response to a running injury. I’d had a long boozy Saturday, that still was affecting me the following Thursday. It was close to Berlin (early August) and the marathon tempo session I was due to do had to be cut short. A searng muscle pain in my left calf muscle reared its head around 5k in. Now whether it was he heat that day, or the tightness in muscles caused by drinking earlier in the week I’ll never know. What I did consider was what held greater importance for me – running or alcohol. This choice was easy for me to make and running won. As a result I massively slowed down my drinking, to stopping at the end of August that year (2019).
This was also pretty easy as I was a month or so out from running Berlin and it felt right to leave the booze behind in that run up to the marathon. As time passed towards and after the marathon I begun to consider what I gained from drinking alcohol, why, what life would be like without it and what that meant. Something that really struck me was the clarity around wanting to experience my life, in its entirety (good / bad / indifferent) for as long as I had left. Booze had always left me with fragmented memories – notably for most of the previous 30 years. All times I had enjoyed, yet so much of them lost to blank spaces in my mind.
The resonance of wanting to be present was incredibly strong and I knew that for me, booze wouldn’t allow me that level of clarity. I felt very strongly that this wasn’t something I wanted – when my life is finite. Exactly where this imperative came from I am unsure, but feel that meditation had played a large part in the desire to be present in my life. Alongside this I begun to unpick my reasons for drinking alcohol in the way I had. My relationship with booze has always been very conflicted and I’m just not the kind of person that works well with too much (and this is a small amount) booze. I came to the realisation that a large percentage of my drinking was to shield myself from my discomfort at social situations with several people. By drinking a lot and quickly I wouldn’t have to engage with how I really felt and this allowed me to switch off and act in a way that let me function (albeit in a random fashion, that could be funny, annoying or just simply awful). On top of this I definitely recognised a change within myself that stemmed from meditation.
I’ve felt that previous to long term meditation I had some kind of tear within my fabric / soul / being that led to frustration or anger and this manifested itself through causing or seeking chaos. Drinking or taking drugs is a very, very effective and quick way to feed this torn energy and something that I would do. I’ve considered where this comes from and suspect there is some kind of generational trauma involved, possibly on my dad’s side. Interestingly having spoken to my brother he has spoken of a chaos he recognises within himself. When he spoke of this it struck a chord with thoughts I’d had myself over the last year. With the regular engagement in meditation it really felt that the tear / anger / chaos had been assuaged and calmed. Whether it would come back or not (which I suspect it would) isn’t something I worry about. I do very clearly feel that one of the motivations for drinking alcohol has been removed – which for me has made cutting the booze out easy and not a bind at all.
Cutting out the booze – the benefits for me have been numerous. I am a better person without alcohol, we really aren’t made for one another. I don’t regret the length of time it took me to reach this point, there are things that I have said or done I’d take back (those that I remember), however I without all those moments my life wouldn’t be as rich as it currently is and I wouldn’t have formed the relationships that I have.
I’ve absolutely loved the glass of whiskey I drunk on my birthday and the one I had on Christmas day. This is enough, and this annual pleasure something I look forward to, relish, enjoy and then put to one side.
I may lose my way as I get older, I may tear open my fabric again and soothe myself with drink. I hope this isn’t the case as I know this makes me feel less alive and less connected to the world.