I’m a happy-go-lucky drunk. The kind of excitable character that pounds the dinner table in delight at a friends suggestion of ordering another bottle. The worst thing that usually happens after one too many is I risk making a fool of myself on the dance floor. As I sail towards the big three-o however, I’ve been doing some (far too much) soul searching on my life choices to date.
In one of those reflective moments, the morning after a boozy evening in Byron Bay, I made the decision to quit alcohol for a whole month. It was a challenge to my ego, a way to prove to myself that I didn’t need liquid courage to keep calm and carry on.
While I’m no alcoholic, I’d be lying if I said I haven't used it as a crutch. A way to mellow out at an event full of strangers, to cut loose and let my hair down with close friends after a long week. It was startling to watch myself from the bleachers, to see just how much an average week revolved around the need to indulge in a glass or three. Whether presented as a celebratory choice or a consolation prize, hooch was never far from my mind.
Suffice to say last month was no walk in the park. Having never had more than a week off since my late adolescence, it was a literal shock to the system. Truth is it took a little too much courage and a stubborn sense of pride to prevail through the low moments. Awash with anxiety most days, I suffered mild withdrawal symptoms in the first fortnight and struggled to overcome a gnawing sense of futility.
Being sober forced me to examine my choices, to see the writing on the wall. Blessed with a level of clarity I hadn’t enjoyed in yonks, it helped to me to re-establish a healthy relationship with the good stuff, to ensure I stopped taking it for granted. Sure, I don't need it to have a good time. I want its company. Rain, hail or shine. Which got me to thinking about the quip above from Ol’ Blue Eyes. While I don't know the context of the one-liner, one things for sure. He was right on the money.
Cin cin, Frank. Bottoms up.