Well, today is my 30th day alcohol-free. Now I have to be a little honest and say that it wasn’t entirely 30 days of no alcohol. I had the flu right at the start of my chosen sobriety and had to take some cough mixture. Not enough to get me drunk, and it wasn’t coz I wanted to get drunk that I was drinking it. But that is another story.
Anyway, 30 days. In a row as well. I am not adding up week days and taking weekends out of the picture. This has been a full-on assault on liver recovery. It has been an interesting experience and I thought that I would share my warped and holier than thou opinions on how this went for me and what I think I have learned. The fact is that along with all human beings having some form of OCD (some mild, others extreme. I have to have my books organised so one side of my very mini library I have all my fiction books and the other side has all my non-fiction books), we also all have problems with addiction.
Of course, the addictions change from person to person, and from continent to continent. The news is awash with stories of strange addictions. They go from the harmless addictions (eating toilet paper) to the simply ludicrous (drinking your own urine).
Regardless it is important for us to look at how we treat our bodies, and maybe try take care of them a little bit better. The last time I stopped drinking for this long was a few years back when I was still at university in the UK. It was Lent and I decided that I was going to stop drinking for forty days and forty nights. It wasn’t THAT hard. All my friends became EXTREMELY annoying when they were drunk. I couldn’t stand the noise in the bars/clubs and I was tired before midnight and wanted to go home. I soldiered on, though. I still went out with the guys, still went and watched football but didn’t drink beer and at the end of it I didn’t learn anything because I think I was still too young.
Some of the Realisations
Well for one thing I have taken the term YOLO to heart. You only live life once. Enjoy it, cherish it and learn as much as you can. I don’t think YOLO means that you should go and be destructive in the maintenance of your body. Sure we are only here once, but rather make it a comfortable stay.
- Alcohol needs me more than I need alcohol: This was probably one of the first realisations that I made. Alcohol needs me to spend money on it. I don’t need alcohol in my system. I haven’t woken up with a hangover in the last 30 days, and boy does it feel good. I wake up on weekends full of energy, I am eating better and most of all I am sleeping much better than I have in a long time. Anything to excess is a problem. I didn’t need to get drunk when I used to get drunk. I only did because alcohol needed me to. My dad used to say something to me when I was terrorising him as a teenager: “Alcohol was there when Jesus was here. It is going to be here after you are gone.”. I never fully understood what he actually was talking about but now I understand. It’s not a new phenomenon. It was here before me and it will be here for a time to come. So I don’t need to act like I NEED alcohol.
- Peers, Peers and Uncles: So then there are these guys. The friends and uncles. Most of my friends have been very supportive. Some of them have been confused by my decision to stop drinking. I think it’s because I was such a cool guy when I was drunk… or maybe because I used to help fund other people’s habits. I don’t know. I do know that a quick breakdown showed me that 65% of my friends were supportive, 5% didn’t think I was serious, 18% thought I was joking, 6% still don’t believe me and another 6% heaved a sigh of relief. Also my uncle said I wasn’t his nephew anymore coz I had stopped drinking. Interestingly a few of my peers were all for it and very very positive about the trip. My wife joined me a little bit late, but she’s also taking a bit of a liver detox.
- Will I ever stop drinking?: That’s not my intention just yet. I don’t think that I will be on it every weekend like I used to. I know that on my birthday, my wife’s birthday, my anniversary with my wife and for most of December (Silly Season) I will most likely have a few to a lot of alcohol beverages. Generally, though I think that I will keep a zero to the bare minimum consumption level of alcohol.
- Zimbabwe is very backwards: I keep telling people that Zimbabwe is still in the pre millennium stage. We haven’t hit the year 2000 yet. I say this because we still allow smoking indoors (clubs and even restaurants), companies that sell cigarettes are still allowed to advertise their products and the dangers of alcohol are still not being told to people.
I think it is also time for us as adults and the ones who are supposed to be the shining example of those who are following us, to be a bit more serious about the things we do to excess. It makes no sense sometimes. We don’t drive around at 200km/hr. We stick to the speed limit because there is a danger of having an accident. Well why do we then want to drink enough for a few people and repeatedly without taking any days of rest? The liver may be a resilient organ that recovers quite quickly from the workouts we put it through. That doesn’t mean that recovery should be its default position.
Anything in excess is bad for you. I believe that the sum of our problems cannot and will not be solved by getting drunk regularly. There is no need to get drunk everyday. There is nothing at all that you will be proving. When I was younger life was always a competition. It stops being a competition because the only race you can win is your own race. There is no medal for proving to everyone else that you know that you are a bigger drinker. In fact, it’s more a weight around your neck being known as the village drunk.
Life is too short. YOLO