My best at 43…
I can die tomorrow, or right after I close my Macbook for the day, who knows. Maybe when I’m 80, again, I have no idea. One thing I do know. At 43 years old, my body and mind are at their best. As hard as I try to think how the last two decades or so have been for me physically and mentally, it is a struggle to recall a time where I was this sharp, this active, this clear. I admit it feels wonderful.
A lot of changes have happened in 2017, I won’t go into a lot of them on this post. I’ll simply brush on what I consider the most effective changes. Those around me know that I waited until I was almost 40 to have my first child. The years before that were spent solely devoted, “workaholicly” so, to my career. A lot of travel and relocations, virtually a nomadic life. It was rewarding as much as it was draining and damaging. Working as much as I did can be equaled to being addicted to a drug that can rot your teeth or leave marks on your skin. Workaholics have rotting relationships and worn scars of neglect to yourself and loved ones. This was a dependency I had to break. Balance needed to happen.
During the time I worked on achieving that balance, I did not hop on a plane for almost 4 years and had a wonderful daughter that also brought with her stresses that piggybacked on the overall happiness. As a realist, it is not my style to fool anyone by saying falsities about how hard it is to raise a child. It is rough, it is hardcore. But there is a very important detail that happened during a good portion of those four years that plays into my life now…I did not have a single drop of alcohol during M’s pregnancy and a time before that. For that year or so, I started playing guitar, produced my best illustrations, and my mind was creating at a furious pace.
Then, I decided to try having a glass of wine again, a beer here and there, sporadically on a weekend to accompany a good meal. As the months went by, that 6 oz glass or the delicious treat of a Great Divide were welcomed every 2 days. Eventually daily, a ritual after the work hours. After a couple of years, I did not want to think it was a problem. After all, I was still excelling in my career and people still seemed friendly around me. But it really was, my thoughts were occupied during the last hours of work by that promise of a nice glass when I got home. It was the center of my end of day decompression.
While I think I was very functional, waking up at 2:00 AM for no reason became a nightly affair and some corporal overheating was felt during those sleepless periods. Obviously this wasn’t bringing any peace to my body. It was simply a way to pass the time. I also admit to not be up to a 100% level of sensitive sharpness with my daughter around. That is a terrifying thing and the hardest to admit and see. On some neighborhood outings, I wouldn’t have been quick to respond if something ever happened. It pains me to remember those moments.
So I stopped. There is no other way to stop something than ending it fully. Not a trickle, not skipping a happy hour or a dinner, simply stop and wake up the next day to deal with it. Sure others are like me at the time I didn’t think a dependency was built. Being attached to a substance, whether is alcohol or sugar, doesn’t have to be passing out every day or getting a belly ache from it. Attachment is also a consistent supply that you constantly think about as a way to deal with things.
When I discontinued my intake of alcohol, I knew that I would lose friends, which I did. No one wants a sober guy around, doesn’t matter what others say. Furthermore, I was aware some would think there was a religious aspect to it. I am an atheist and surely didn’t want the stigma of faith attached to me. One day I simply stopped, focused on my home life and the endless projects at work that supply satisfaction. I rekindled a relationship with a friend and we now collaborate with my art. Reading became a habit again as well as picking up a guitar. Life has become balanced and rewarding once again.
The friends that I have lost, sadly I must say “so long”. My reality is that it shouldn’t have been the core of a sincere friendship. To address the fact that this is not related to any religious fervor, I have chosen the symbol in the banner from HipSobriety. It shows reason and meaning. Maybe one day I’ll ink it on my skin.
Do I miss it? At moments I miss the flavor with a good dinner. It is unfortunate that I can’t do it in the moderation that I wish. As the months go by, you start forgetting that you once drank a lot and that is a good thing. When temptation is around, how I feel now is a great reminder of the decision made.