Day Eighty-Nine: Sobriety Sleeve-Tugs

I’m being more open about not drinking with people now that I’m about three months into this. It’s usually a version of the “dimmer switch conversation.” But I’m still getting what I think of as “sobriety sleeve-tugs.”

It usually goes well. More often than not, it leads to reciprocal sharing; almost everyone has a similar struggle (most often with food). A couple of people who have told me they think they might have the same alcohol issue as well.

I work in academia, so I think I benefit from an atmosphere that doesn’t prize the kind of rabbit-punch manliness that some drinking cultures are built around. So that’s helpful.

But — almost ninety days in — booze still tugs my sleeve on a regular basis. It’s pretty surprising. At least once a week, I’ll open the fridge and see some of my wife’s beer and think hey. Or have a crap day at work and go home and think wine. Or just generally reminisce about being at the bar and drinking with some colleagues.

Sobriety sleeve-tugs are worse when you don’t have a “problem”.

In a weird way, not having a capital-P “I strangled the family dog” problem is a trap. Rock bottom is super bad and something I never want to hit. But at least burning the house down means you have to rebuild.

When you have a kind of problem, it’s harder to get a clear grasp of consequence. “I must never drink again because I murdered a busload of nuns” is a clear mission statement. “I don’t drink because, meh, sometimes I thought I might be drinking too much” isn’t really a hook.

So I have to find some level of satisfaction in “I’m not drinking because I’m not drinking,” and — weirdly — accept my story internally as gracefully as friends and strangers accept it. When the impulse hits, I don’t believe myself the same way that strangers do. That’s a weird place to be in.

I’m not drinking today; carrying on. It’s just an odd space.