Drinking and alcohol

Recently, I came to an awareness that my drinking habits were, how do you say, a tad excessive.

I’d been slowly coming to that realization for, oh, probably months now. It all came to a head for me while at the doctor’s office.  They have you fill out one of those “health update” forms or whatever, and one of the questions is about your drinking/drug habits.

I put down what I always do, which is “yes” to the drinking and “2/3 daily” for the quantity. This is, as all of you who know me already guessed, a lie. It should have been more like 6/8 daily. Like I said, a tax excessive.

Having armed myself against censure with that lie, I went into my appointment.  And would you believe, the doctor was even concerned at that “normal” amount drinking. She asked me if I had a job, and if I could function, and if I though that was maybe “a lot”.

How dare she. How dare she ask me if my 2/3 drinks a day was excessive? How dare she imply that I was an alcoholic, or couldn’t function normally? HOW DARE SHE?

Then, having gotten off my mental soap box, I reconsidered.  If she was that concerned about a lie, how concerned would she be about the truth?  Not that I particular care what my doctor thinks, or anybody else, but it made me step back and really look at how much I was drinking.  Yes, I began to think, maybe it is a little bit more that is healthy.

Then, to cap it off, my wife and I are in the process of sorting out life insurance.  Which is a giant pain, but involves a blood test.  We got the results of that a bit after (or before? one those) my appointment, and wouldn’t you know it, my liver enzymes are high.  Not critically high, but edging ever so slightly over the top of the normal range.  (I also have fat blood, but that’s not related to anything.  It’s just fun to say. Fat blood, fat blood, la lala lala laaaaaa).

Those two things coming so close together really made me step back and think.

Now, for those of you that don’t me, I’m not an alcoholic.  I don’t have hallucinations when I don’t drink, I don’t get the shakes, I don’t spend all day in an alcoholic haze.  I like beer.  It tastes better than water, and it’s delicious.  That’s it.  Well, I mean some days I have a couple extra drinks because I had a rough day, but I’m not an alcoholic.

But I think I’m not horribly far from it.  That’s an unpleasant realization to come to, about yourself. It really is.  There’s nothing redeeming about being an alcoholic. Nothing. There’s no “upside” except “drinking”. And when you’re life is in the gutter (mine’s not even close), the drinking isn’t an upside, it’s a (flawed) coping mechanism.

After that little bit of brief introspection (it’s all I can handle nowadays, post-internet and cat pictures), I made a decision.  Oh, it wasn’t a hard one, or a big one, but I made one.

My self-imposed daily drink limit is now 2. An actual, honest 2. Not “just one more there’s only a little left” 2, but a real 2.  Well, a mostly real 2. I count “one” as “fits in the glass, and is mixed in normal proportions.”  REGARDLESS.  It’s a limit other than “we’re out of beer”.

I’m two weeks into my two drink limit, and you know what? I don’t feel any different. I’m not extra angry, I’m not having trouble coping with my life, nothing. Nothing’s any different.  And that’s great. It’s what I expected, and hoped, and I’m glad that’s really the way it is.

Well, I say nothing’s different, that’s not quite true. I’m not running to the store for beer every other day, and I have a bit more money in my pocket. So that’s nice.

The key for me, I think, is to keep the physical habit of drinking something, and just not having it be a actual drink. I’m going through lots of seltzer. And a fair bit of Coke. And a ton of ice.  Which has all helped.

I’ll admit, already there’s been a few days where I’ve finished my second drink, and stared at it forlornly, wishing it was either not empty, or not number two.  But so far so good.  We’ll see how it goes.

–update–

Since I drafted this, we’ve went on vacation.  While on vacation, I had a few days where I had more than the 2 drinks I’d been drinking.  I didn’t get drunk, mind you, or even really buzzed, but I had a handful of drinks, then went to bed.

Man, the difference in the quality of sleep I get is highly noticeable.  I woke up slow, achy, in a fog and with a headache.  Apparently when I cut back on drinking, I stopped doing that and didn’t notice.  I sure noticed that I started doing it again though, wow.  I felt like miserable shit.  It was an eye opener.

Since vacation I’ve had a few days where I drink more than 2 drinks.  Usually it’ll be like, a mimosa (or 2) between 9 and noon (I drink them slothily, yes), then my normal “2 drinks” in the evening.  This doesn’t affect my sleep at least, but I’m still trying to not make it a habit.

The short of it is I feel better drinking less, so I’m going to keep doing it, but not slavishly adhere to it. If I did that, I feel, I’d resent my (self imposed) limit, and just eventually start to ignore it.  I guess it’s more of an awareness of how much I’m drinking, and a conscious choice to limit it most of the time.

I dunno. It’s working out for me.

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