Staying sober is like that Chris Nolan movie when the dude has to tattoo shit all over his body to find out it was he who killed his wife anyway.
One of the hardest things about quitting booze is our short memories. That, and we’re suckers for destructive relationships.
We get shitfaced, we wake up hungover and realize what a mistake it was, and then we get back on the wagon. We feel the sweet relief of being free from the exhaustion of drinking and get back to our hobbies; we start to enjoy the simplicity of watching TV with a glass of carbonated water, and wonder why the fuck we hadn’t done it more often.
That first week is easy. It’s like taking candy from a baby with carpal tunnel syndrome.
And then we start to forget how shitty drinking is and all the bullshit that comes along with it: the depression, the expense, the trips to the liquor store and the thinly veiled raised eyebrows when we put our two bottles of cheap gin on the conveyor belt, and madness of handing over money for bags of ice from the store when that shit can be made in a home appliance everyone has, if only we were organized enough to have made them. Who knew?
Not only do we start to forget that shit, but we start romanticizing the times when we drank. We filter out all the bad experiences and remember all the fun times. When I think back to my childhood summers, I remember them being exclusively like the plot of Stand by Me, when a lot of it was staring through the patio window, willing the rain to stop so I could go out and play.
Alcohol cravings are like that shitty ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who desperately wants you back. When they’re advocating you two should get back together, they’re not going to give a balanced, fair of assessment of how well you worked together. They’re going to remind you of that time you had a blast watching SpongeBob SquarePants while shitfaced on mojitos, and hope you don’t remember the time they slapped you about the face for buying still instead of sparkling White Zin.
I’m on the wagon again, and I think it’s for good this time. And this is why: I’m shit angry at booze, and this time I’m holding a grudge.
If ever there were ever a time that it’s healthy to hang on to negative emotions, quitting drinking is that time.
Don’t forgive that motherfucker. Because she or he hasn’t changed. It’s still the same lying piece of shit it was when you left it. And for all those good times it gave you, it came with a shitload of baggage that some other sap can deal with. You’re too good for that shit.
Stay angry at alcohol. That motherfucker deserves it.
Although this blog post was shitty, thanks for reading anyway. Don’t forget to sign up for email notifications of when new blog posts are published by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the screen. And if I made you laugh out loud three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog post with your friends on social media by using the share buttons below.
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After being sober awhile, you may question whether you’re an alcoholic. I did, and nearly ended up ordering three blue chimneys.
One of the first blog posts I wrote was an off-the-wall quasi-alcoholism-self-diagnosis guide that I partially used to recognize I was an alcoholic. It was only semi-serious, meaning that while it was true, it wasn’t exactly a heart-to-heart with myself, looking deep into my soul or some shit, but centered on more flippant, humorous signs of alcoholism.
Today, I’m three months sober, which I consider to be a milestone. More so than ten weeks, or two months, and, weirdly, probably more so than five months, when I eventually get to that. Maybe it’s because three months is the length of a season; maybe it’s because good things come in threes (that’s a saying, right?); or maybe it’s because in my sobriety I’ve reached a Zen-like state where the past and future seem irrelevant, and I only think of the present, which gives this milestone sole significance over the sobriety milestones of the future and past.
The last couple weeks, the question of whether I’m an alcoholic has been on my mind. For the sake of thematic coherence, I definitely think it’s related to the three-month milestone.
At times during the last couple weeks, I’ve felt indifferent about drinking. I’m over it, and that my life as an alcoholic is like one of those night terrors I get from time to time, when I run around my apartment naked, dreaming that I can’t breathe while still being kind of awake. But it’s over now, and I can return to bed and go to sleep after I’ve checked underneath it for the boogeyman.
I’ve even thought about changing the title of this blog to Hilariously Indifferent about Alcohol, so that it has a more sincere title, even if it has a ring to it like a rusty bell.
But other times, like when I was buying supplies for my girlfriend’s birthday, I’ve felt like giving moderated alcohol drinking another shot. I flirted with the idea a second, as the booze aisle caught my eye. Maybe I could just set a limit and stick to it this time, keeping my disastrous experience of alcoholism at the forefront of my mind as motivation for not fucking it up.
Deciding whether I’m an alcoholic or not the last couple weeks has been like tossing a coin in the air: heads I am, tails I’m not, and both answers would seem valid. That is until yesterday, when I was listening to a podcast. The hosts of the show just so happened to talk about their five favorite beers.
One of the host’s list was comprised mostly of Belgian beers—my tipple, my overly long and destructive love affair. Upon hearing the name Chimay Blue, I was transported back to the summer holiday, when I would buy in my favorite beers every day and get shitfaced watching movies. My mind started racing. I compiled a list of my favorite five, and I thought about going out and getting them.
It would just be one last hurrah. One more gunfight before I rode off into the sunset to buy a ranch and have six or seven kids. Before I knew my legs had extended, I was looking at my DVD shelves, searching for the perfect one or two movies to provide entertainment for the last time I sat and enjoyed my favorite five. That’s allowed, right? I have the rest of my life to be sober. How will one measly afternoon and evening getting shitfaced on my five favorite beers ruin that? It can’t.
I thought, Why haven’t I thought about my favorite five before? Five’s the perfect number: one better than four, and six is just weird and not round.
Then I remembered this was exactly my mindset during that summer. I’d planned on getting sober the couple weeks preceding it. My plan was to get my favorite beers in, enjoy one last sweet evening, and then spend four weeks in a self-imposed rehab.
That didn’t happen. Not only that, but I spent a fortune getting in my favorite beers for most of the days of the holiday. My five favorite? Shit, I’d compiled that list a fuckload of times before. Every time it was different, but the results were always the same. It wasn’t a last hurrah. The day after I’d write a new list, one that dicks all over the previous one.
I did what any reasonable alcoholic would do in that situation. I yanked my earphones out of my ears and threw my iPhone across the room, blaming my near relapse on that particular podcast.
(Just kidding, my iPhone is safe and sound in its nerdy leather case.)
I try to make each blog post useful to you, the reader. I don’t just want to ramble on about myself, even if I can provide the odd photo with a caption to make you laugh. You’re here for that, sure, or you’d be reading some other blog called There’s Not a Single Funny Thing about Sobriety. As well as having laughed, I want you to step away from your iPad or iPhone or desktop computer and feel awesome about being sober or to have a learnt a little more about sobriety.
With that said, here’s your tidbit for this week. Your favorite drink, or more accurately your memory of your favorite drink, will never go away. It will shrink as you cross off your sober days, weeks, and months. It will lay dormant, like a hibernating bear, but one little prod, and that fucker will stand up and be as big, bad, and scary as it was in the summer.
So tread carefully, my friend, because every podcast that mentions your favorite drink, every Facebook post you read about someone enjoying a glass of chardonnay or merlot on a Friday night, and every blog post you read about the blogger’s favorite drink or drinks, is potentially one big kick in that bear’s nutsack.
Thanks for reading! Even if it this blog post is a potential trigger for a relapse. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to subscribe to email notifications for Hilariously Sober by using the form at the top-right corner of the website.
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My works of fiction, which aren’t about hibernating bears, can be checked out here.
Alcoholics come in all shapes and sizes. As do drinking vessels.
A few blog posts ago, in my Five Signs You Might Be an Alcoholic post, I touched upon defining what is an alcoholic. I enjoyed writing that blog post so much—I had to dry my tears of laughter with the dollar bills I’d made from my comedic mystery series while writing it—that writing the spinoff seemed like a no-brainer.
Part of my discovery of realizing I was an alcoholic was having to reevaluate my definition of alcoholism. During that time I came up with some definitions. While sitting on my sofa this morning, poking at my iPad and deciding whether I would wish an old school buddy I hadn’t seen for fifteen years happy Birthday, my brain collated that data so that it fit the “five things” classic blog post format, which you’re about to read.
So here goes. Five types of alcoholic (and how to spot them).
The Classic grew up with one or both of his or her parents being alcoholic. His normalization of alcoholism continued when he went to college and got shitfaced at dorm parties. But while everyone else moved on from their college drinking days, he decided that every Friday and Saturday night, even if he’s just sitting watching a shit film on Netflix, should be enjoyed with six or seven beers. Now married and with two-point-three children, the Classic struggles to hold down a job, has progressed to drinking hard liquor straight out of the bottle, and only occasionally shaves.
The High-Functioning Alcoholic
The high-functioning alcoholic is so adept at functioning drunk he can net the brokerage firm he works for millions without breaking a sweat, all the while fueled by lunchtime cocktails. He’s a smooth-talking, well-oiled machine who sees no reason to stop drinking. And why would he? He’s got a penthouse apartment in a trendy part of the city and dates successful middle-management types. He rarely throws up from drinking, and knows his limits, to a point, and seldom falls over while drunk, scuffing his three-piece suit.
The Stealth is ashamed of his drinking. He doesn’t drink socially and is ostensibly a functioning family member. The Stealth doesn’t drink at classy cocktail bars, but in the bathroom, where he keeps his whisky, which has been decanted into an empty bleach bottle. He thinks his family doesn’t notice when he rejoins them at the dinner table, fucked out of his mind on cheap whisky, though they’ve been aware for quite some time that his frequent bathroom breaks aren’t because he’s got a weak bladder. He may occasionally get sober, dragged kicking and screaming by his wife to a rehab clinic, but afterwards he just finds better places to hide his booze and better ways to cover up his whisky breath, at least in his mind.
The Professional Drunk
The Professional has decided, “Fuck it! I’m going to get shitfaced all the time.” He may be homeless or live in social housing, and getting a gig or making sure he’s in good health is’t even on the radar because of his hardwired desire to drink. Having a can of super-strength lager with his bowl of cornflakes on a morning is a daily routine, and continuing drinking throughout the day is a given. If he’s to venture to the store for supplies, he does so at midday, when he can drink a can of cider on the subway without having to sit next to someone who might notice he smells slightly of his own urine.
The Party Girl
Much like the high-functioning alcoholic, the Party Girl is both socially and professionally successful, but the difference between the two is she would never, ever contemplate drinking at lunch time or at breakfast. In her mind, she’s not an alcoholic, just someone who wants to have fun. And she deserves a glass of wine after a hard day’s work being the team manager at a call center. The only times she drinks before six P.M. is at one of her girlfriend’s weddings, and then, of course, she’ll get shitfaced on champagne, because, you know, that’s what everyone else is doing.
Which one was I? Over the five or six years I had a drinking problem, I fit one or more of those definitions at one time or another, apart from I don’t have 2.3 children, can’t trade stocks for shit, am not female, and I’ve always managed to pay my own rent.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this blog post, don’t forget to follow it by email by filling out the form at the top-right corner of the webpage. And as always, if I made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to press one of the social media share buttons below to share the post with your friends.
Days sober: 55
Jake Hancock, a high-functioning alcoholic private investigator, is featured in my comedic crime series, which you can check out here.
I don’t want you to wish me happy Birthday, as it’s not my birthday, but you can show me some love by liking my Facebook page.
Being the sober dude or dudette at a party can sometimes feel like wearing a Nazi uniform to a D-day memorial parade, but don’t fear, Dan has some inspirational advice.
So you’re newly sober. Maybe you got there by going to AA, maybe you checked yourself into a five-star rehab clinic and did a shitload of yoga, or maybe you followed the Doomsday Prepper’s Guide to Getting Sober. Regardless of how you stopped normalizing getting shitfaced every evening and all weekend, at some point you’re going to have to start socializing again, but without alcohol. Being sober can’t just be about energy drinks and beating up snot-nosed fifteen-year-olds online on your favorite boxing video game.
Part of that socializing—even if you try your best to avoid them, like me—will involve going to a party. And in between the stealthy missions to the buffet table to grab one of the dwindling supply of caviar canapés and the appraising of everyone’s evening wear from a dark corner, you’re going to have to open your mouth and have a conversation.
It’ll only be so long before that person you’re speaking to is one of the more-than-merry partygoers. And if you speak to that drunk person long enough, it’s only a matter of time before his or her alcohol-blurred vision falls upon the glass of carbonated water in your hand, and he or she asks, mixing the words with an obnoxious mixture of spittle, “Why aren’t you drinking?”
If you happen to be in your third trimester or wearing a dog collar, this situation may be easily avoided by chuckling and pointing out the obvious. But for us non-impregnated atheists, this situation could be quite the pickle.
On one hand, you don’t want to come across as the square guy or gal at the party by telling people you don’t drink, and in the mind the of that drunk partygoer become someone who “doesn’t like the taste of alcohol,” “never knew why it’s necessary to drink alcohol to have fun,” or “never touched a drop” in his or her life.
But on the other hand, you feel self-conscious about labeling yourself as an alcoholic. To do so might raise suspicions in the drunk partygoer that you wandered in off the street, knocked out one of the guests, stole his dinner suit, and hid him in the utility room, so you could avoid another damp night sitting on the sidewalk.
What do I plan on doing when this situation arises? I’ll tell you what I won’t do: go to that party wearing a dinner suit two sizes too small. But seriously, I’d say, with an air of pride, that I am an alcoholic.
This is why. We sober alcoholics are the coolest motherfuckers at that party, whether or not we use the aforementioned drunk partygoer’s metric for measuring coolness. We have nothing to hide or feel shameful about. Out of all the people there, we’re the hardest partiers of everyone. Had that party been set in the latter part of December of 1999, we would have been swinging from a chandelier, a glass of champagne in our hands, singing a God-awful rendition of ‘9 to 5.’ And it would’ve been freakin’ hilarious.
But we’re above that behavior now. We ruined drinking for ourselves by overdoing it, and now we see the error of our ways, which is way cooler than conforming to some social norm, despite its detriment to our life quality. We sober alcoholics are freethinkers, who decide independently about lifestyle choices, and we’ll go home from a party without having made drunken requests for bad songs, gotten into a passive-aggressive argument, or outright punched the host square in the face.
Congratulations, Sober Alcoholic. You’re one cool motherfucker. And when you feel ready to start socializing again without alcohol, and you find yourself at a party, hold your head high and jump in and swim with the same confidence it took to quit drinking. You’re the veteran at the party who now has all his faculties. And between being that and being the partygoer who stares into his cup of joe the morning after, remembering all the dumb stuff he did, I know which one I choose.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this blog post, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober via email by filling out the form in the top-right of the webpage. And as always, if I made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog post with your friends by pressing one of the social media share buttons below.
Stay sober and happy, you cool cat you.
Days sober: 48
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If you don’t show classic signs of alcoholism, deciding you’re alcoholic might be difficult. Here are five subtle hints I received to suggest I might need to get sober.
I was reluctant to call myself an alcoholic for about five years. It wasn’t because I didn’t know I was one, but because I didn’t feel like I fit the classic definition. I got out of bed when my alarm started to ring, ate my bowl of cereal with milk instead of super-strength lager, and went to work without a gravy stain on my tie or stinking of last night’s booze. I only drank reasonably moderately throughout the week, even managing to have some dry days, but when the weekend came, my employment-oppressed Withnail came out to play. I was free from the shackles of doing regular life-type stuff for two and a third days. How did I spend that time? Bankrupting myself financially, physically, and emotionally by drinking a shit-ton of craft beer.
I struggled to moderate my drinking from the time I recognized I was an alcoholic to the time I quit. Sure, I had long periods where I wouldn’t drink anything—riding that wagon for a predetermined period of time—but when I started drinking again, I fell into the same pattern. It was at this point that I had to rethink what an alcoholic is. I wasn’t a falling-down, punching-my-boss-in-the-face-on-a-Monday-morning drunk, but my relationship to alcohol was a destructive one. Whatever new, enlightened definition I came up with, I fit it. Whether I based it on consumption level, the level of destruction alcohol caused to my life, or how many times I visited the bathroom for a number two before midday (see below), the shoe fit like a motherfucker.
It’s up to you to decide whether you’re an alcoholic. It would be unethical of me to go around defining people as such . But even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to come across as Mr. Judgy McJudgerson. My consumption level aside, there were a few subtle hints for me over the years that indicated I might have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol. A few red flags that, had I not been drunk and/or hungover when they popped up, I might’ve spotted and be writing this blog five years earlier. As a way of entertaining you more than enlightening you—I am a comedy writer first and a sobriety blogger second—I’d like to share those telltale signs with you.
You’re not an alcoholic, you’re an enthusiast of some type of alcoholic drink
As I mentioned above, craft beer was my tipple. Namely, Belgian beer. I would taste the shit out of those all Saturday afternoon and alleviate my hangover by discovering and tasting new ones on Sundays. If I were to base level of enthusiasm solely on consumption level, I was up there with craft beer nerds who write for Craft Beer Monthly, a fictional magazine I made up to make this point more humorous. I’m not a craft beer enthusiast, but an alcoholic who hid behind his casual interest in snobbish beer like a flasher hides his perversion behind an expensive fur-lined trench coat only to reveal his, um, true self a couple hours later. Just to make that simile clear, the flasher exposing his genitals is analogous with my getting shitfaced. Unless you’re the type of wine drinker who spits it out after tasting it, you’re enthusiasm for wine might be bordering on or is alcoholism.
2. You spend more money on toilet paper than you do on vacations
I’m going to go ahead and assume that A) you only go on vacation once a year, and that B) you don’t steal toilet paper from the supply room at work. Anyone who’s had a hard night drinking knows that the next morning you get up and star in your very own horror movie while sitting on the can. Drink a skinful of beer, and you could be convinced, upon visiting bathroom the first of five times the next morning, that the only thing you had for dinner was a super-size spinach and sweet corn smoothie. All that time you spend in the bathroom the morning after the night before means a whole lot of wiping. If you get drunk on the regular, you could literally be flushing that trip to Disneyworld with the family you’ve dreamed about for so long down the toilet.
3. You’ll find any excuse to turn a Monday into a Friday
When I took the train to work on a Monday morning, I used to mourn the loss of the weekend. But I was hungover, and there was no way I would spend Tuesday morning feeling like this. Around closing time at work, I would start to wrack my brain for any excuse to go to the store and pick up some beers afterwards. It could’ve been that I’d had a bad day at work, or a good day, or that there was a new Rob Schneider comedy on Netflix to stream. I had to sit through it, even though his last five movies had been subpar, and what better way to get through that ordeal than with a beer in my hand? You get where I’m going with this, especially if you’ve seen Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
4. Only nausea or something out of your control can stop you drinking
If I look back, only the first five or six beers were really any fun. After that, beer changed into sickly sweet treacle that I sipped at, hoping to bring back the level of optimism and excitement I felt two beers in. If I planned to have a light drinking session and only bought three or four, when they were finished, I’d put on my shoes faster than a centipede that’s late for work, so that I could go back to the store and resupply the refrigerator. I’d only stop drinking when I thought I was going to break my X-number-of-years record of avoiding throwing up, which I both fear and hate in equal measures. If the only thing stopping you from drinking more is an empty wallet, a closed bar, or your lack of consciousness, alcohol might not be for you.
5. You can’t imagine your life without alcohol
I’m going to try my best to finish on a serious note. If you can’t imagine spending a Friday evening, a Saturday night, or your unusually younger brother’s Briss without a glass of something in your hand, then Mr. Judgy McJudgerson thinks you maybe, probably have a problem with alcohol. Me? I’m not saying shit.
If you enjoyed the first of what will be many blogs I’ll write on the funnier side of sobriety and recovery, then don’t forget to follow this blog by subscribing to it by email using the form at the top right of the webpage. And if I made you laugh at least three times, feel mildly obligated to press one of the social media buttons below to share it with your friends.
Days sober: 13
If enjoyed this blog, you’ll probably enjoy my fiction. Check it out here (The first book in the series is free).