For at least four months after I made the decision to quit drinking, I found myself in a strange purgatory.
I didn’t want to be drinking. I didn’t want to not be drinking.
I wanted all the “mores” of being booze-free—more money, more time, more energy, more self-respect—but those “mores” seemed like an easier thing to do later. Like tomorrow. And I could have just this one more beer today.
I held rational thoughts (like you’d be better off without beer) and irrational thoughts (one flight of craft beer is no big deal) simultaneously.
I was sure I could have fun without drinking. I was sure I didn’t want to try it.
All the back and forth exhausted me, almost as much as the drinking had.
I’d like to tell you I had a magnificent turning point. That one day God switched on some lightbulb in my brain. Waters parted. Angels swooped down. I suddenly thought alcohol was gross and stupid.
What happened instead was I kept slogging through purgatory with this immense mental weight strapped uncomfortably to my back.
I walked away from drinking and toward not drinking, and found that it was like any other landscape change: gradual. You don’t start in a marsh and five steps later end up in the desert. There’s a transition. You must travel through that. If you don’t, you can’t get anywhere.
As I got farther away from the scenery around drinking, I started appreciating the scenery in the non-drinking landscape.
I learned to cope with things without drinking. I started to face my pain and fear instead of ignoring it. I found the fun in everything, instead of just the fun in drinking. I embraced a bigger life because I could see the whole thing more clearly.
And one day, I was finally able to say, nope. I’m good.