January 2016 is done. Way done. Adios. Grand total: zero drinks. Many of you have done this before. Soldiers, reasonable people, (most) mothers. But I never had. I can’t even remember taking more than a few days off consecutively. Not drinking seemed entirely out of place in my life of living abroad and performing. And if you’ve never done it before, I’ve got news for you.
It’s no big deal.
That’s right. Taking some time off from drinking is not a huge deal. At least it wasn’t for me. And I drink a lot. I didn’t get the shakes or just have to have a beer or not know what to do with myself. (I never knew what to do with my hands sans drink, but that’s been true since we started growing hands.) There were a couple nights a drink or two would have been welcome, and I might have been a bit more socially awkward or reserved at times, but it wasn’t anything that novel or challenging.
Leading up to the month, I didn’t feel this huge sense of dread. There wasn’t an overwhelming sense of angst or worry about whether or not I would be able to do it. That was never really in question. If I couldn’t drink for a month without major problems, that would have told me that I probably had more of a problem than I would have liked to admit. I didn’t take the month off because I felt physically horrible or was going crazy or drinking myself stupid.
I took the month off because I had never done it and I wanted to see what would happen. A mixture of curiosity and stubbornness led me to it. How would I feel? Would I have more energy? How productive would I be? Would I be rich? Could I do it? Of course I could do it. I’m a Rudy.
So what did I learn? What huge life-changing experiences transpired in my month of sobriety? To be honest, I’m not sure. No flash of brilliance suddenly illuminated all of life’s big questions and provided answers. I didn’t have a come-to-Jesus moment. My same day-to-day issues were still there, just in a way where I was awake at nine instead of noon.
Instead of staying in bed in my pajamas, I would stay on the couch in pants. Instead of taking more naps, I would fret over what I was going to do with a whole free day. Instead of getting a half-assed workout in, I would get a good-to-decent workout in. Instead of not writing because I felt like human garbage, I didn’t write because I couldn’t find just the right temperature. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
And that’s why I don’t hate hangovers. They’re the perfect alibi. They give me an excuse for more pizza, for binge-watching, for taking multiple 40-minute showers a day, for putting things off. Hangovers let me stay in bed all day. They tell me, “You just sit tight, buddy. All that beer has earned you a day off.” The fact that I’m incapacitated is not a bad thing; it is a justification for my natural state of not knowing what to do.