18 days

I haven’t had a drink in the past 18 days, and that’s the longest I’ve gone as an adult without alcohol. There are several reasons I’m doing this “Dry January” thing; the rationale can be summed up simply as, I need to take a break.

For too long, I’ve been a fairly heavy drinker. I mean to say that I’m capable of blotto-level drinking, 12+ beverages in a single run. Whole bottles, if need be. I’ve developed a high-enough tolerance that I don’t often blackout anymore, but a certain lack of awareness grows in those drinks, and I take on a surge of false confidence that leads me to drink more.

By day, I’m pretty high-functioning. I have a stable (and tenderly nurtured) marriage, career, social circle and diverse array of hobbies. I think often about self-improvement. I read Epictetus. I dislike when obstacles hold me back, and I work hard to mitigate them.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed an increasingly obvious and basic fact about my life: that anything negative or frustrating or energy-sapping or depressing can be traced almost immediately back to alcohol. I lead a very happy life, thanks to my wife and young daughter, thanks to my creative outlets, thanks to music and golf, etc., etc., but, like everyone else, I’ve got highs and lows riding the length of my days. Some of those lows are natural; most are due to alcohol. Long story short, I need to take a break.

This has become non-negotiable. If I want to continue improving myself (my dedication as a father, my writing, my golf game, my guitar playing, etc., etc.), then alcohol is an easy thing to remove. I think I’ve known this for several years, but the fact that it’s been so hard to commit to even a few days on the wagon has revealed to me the depth of this bad habit.

And now, on Day 19, I feel terrific! This attempt has been easier than any before it, mostly because of that stark realization. There’s a deeper self-honesty occurring now. I sense that there’s less time to waste. I am 34 years old, and I continue to wrestle with how to live the way I want to live. My point is that I know what I want (thus I know who I am), and I’m learning again and again how to get there.

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