Alcohol is very very very… very hard to give up.
People come to 5EW because they want to get healthy. But what does that really mean?
Most people can give up ice cream and pancakes and nacho hats, but alcohol is a different story. Alcohol has the deepest fangs. It’s the one that gets you around the neck, in the dark. In Arabic, the word ‘Al-khul’, aptly translates to ‘Body Eating Spirit’, while nacho hat translates to the more cheery ‘Let’s Party Forever’.
But drinking is fun. More fun than being good. And this is the conundrum.
There’s a Greek god, Dionysus, the androgynous deity of wine and ecstasy. The Greeks believed Dionysus to be an integral part of the human spirit and if left unexercised a person would get antsy and possibly self-destructive.
There are parts of ourselves that need to get wild every now and then. Not only is this healthy, it’s integral. I think people typically fuse this idea of drinking and this other idea of getting wild, and then the only time they allow themselves wild abandon is when they’re drunk and can blame it on the alcohol or ‘Body Eating Spirit’.
Maybe we just need other ways to be silly.
Last year I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. In the years previous I had many drops. Years ago I remember reading an article by a woman who’d done something similar. The article was about all the ways her life had improved. They were immeasurable. She’d obviously been released of the ‘Body Eating Spirit’.
I think this article was on my mind when I entered my year of abstinence, though there was no clear beginning or end. One day I just sort of realised I hadn’t had a drink in a week, then a month, then longer, and eventually it became a conscious decision—I was a ‘non-drinker’. I became an evangelist and people grew tired of my proselytising.
The problem was, I learned later, that I didn’t adequately replace my designated wild time with anything of equivalent wildness. I just stopped drinking and started reading more books, watching more TV and seeing less people.
This article could be a response to this woman’s article I read years ago, though I forget her name and where I read it, because it’s possible I was drunk.
Injunction 1: This holiday season you must replace your alcohol consumption, not just drop it entirely from your life. If you don’t, there’ll be a hole inside you that will grow and grow and one day you’ll look in the mirror and only see a hole where your personality used to be. Don’t be a hero and announce something about ‘cold turkey’ even though no one knows what that means.
Injunction 2: Replace your alcohol consumption with something appropriately wild. Sure some people like the ‘taste’ (these are the same people who say, ‘cold turkey’), but remember the main reason you started drinking and kept it up all these years: to be free of your inhibitions, to tell people you love them even though you’re not that type of guy, and to generally exercise something wild in yourself under the pretence of, ‘Forgive me, I’ve had a few drinks.’ Skip the drink and go straight to the wild.
But what is wild enough?
Here are some ideas:
*Dance naked on a formica table.
*Tell your parents you love them.
*Admit how scared you are of being sober.
There are so many reasons not to put alcohol in your body, and you could Google frontal lobe impairment and erectile dysfunction and what Dan Murphy does with 20% of your salary until the cold turkeys come home, but you already know all that—and you’re still sleeping.
So try something new this festive break. I’m calling it Wild and Sober. Good luck!