Let's set the stage, shall we? I'm writing this at 6AM on a Sunday morning.
I've spent the last two hours awake in bed, mind racing. This is how I spend most mornings after a night of drinking. Today, I'm trying to put a stop to my racing thoughts by writing them down.
Last night, I went to a beer tasting at Lift Bridge Brewery. I like their beer. In the course of the three hours I was there, I had about three. I left a disaster zone. Kind of drunk, hungry, crabby and tired with a bit of a bellyache.
Beer does not agree with me.
I, however, love beer.
I love the flavor, the branding, the stories behind the breweries. Oh, and the breweries are so fun! And the thing with beer is that even when you're at the shittiest bar in town, they almost always have nice beers. Decent wine, on the other hand, is next to impossible to find. When you do happen upon some, it costs a fortune.
In the past year, I've barely been able to smell a beer without feeling drunk.
Beer, specifically. Even more specifically, microbrews.
It has a lot to do with their high alcohol percentage (must everything be 7 or 8 or 12 percent?!). And the million of taprooms around town barely ever offer food (or enough food-- last night, for example, they ran out of brats before I could get one) and most of them only dispense water in tiny cups. Brutal!
But the real issue is when I'm out with friends and we're drinking beer, it's so damn easy to overdo it. Beers flow effortlessly, they taste great and because so many beers I like are potent, it takes next to nothing to casually bump me into drunksville.
Lately, I've been really examining my relationship with alcohol. It's confusing.
You know how some people really like that buzzed feeling? That's not really me.
I don't like drinking as a "social lubricant." I'd much rather talk to people I don't know very well when I've had little or nothing to drink.
I also don't drink when I'm down in the dumps. In fact, the times I most prone to overdoing it is when I'm happy and having fun.
Regardless of why I drink, I can tell you that lately, every time I have more than two alcoholic beverages, I have a terrible night's sleep and wake up at the crack of dawn feeling shitty about myself. Just like this morning, my mind races with thoughts about things I said (even if I didn't say anything bad), how I acted (even if I didn't do anything embarrassing), and how I feel like junk. And if I was drinking beer, I feel like junk (physically) 1,000,000 times more.
So if I typically don't like being buzzed and I don't want to use alcohol as a coping mechanism, and overdoing it makes me feel like crap physically and mentally, why am I even drinking at all?
This is a great question.
There are times I really enjoy drinking. I love a nice glass of wine with a meal or while reading a book/watching the boob tube at night Every once in a while, a well-crafted cocktail really does it for me. And pssshhht, at my cabin over the 4th of July, I can down entire keg of beer without an ounce of regret (and miraculously, nary a hangover... not sure how that is possible, but it's true!). Also, whenever I'm in Madison, Wisconsin (aka UW, my alma mater), the beers flow like wine. I while I might feel like crap the next day, I never feel crappy about myself.
I guess it's all about context.
I've made a few life changes in the past year to change my relationship with alcohol. First, I really try to not do happy hour. If I have even one drink after work, it basically makes the rest of my night unproductive. I also refuse to drive if I've had more than one drink, which makes happy hour even less appealing.
Instead of happy hour, I offer to meet for coffee or propose a walk.
These activities provide all the good stuff associated with meeting for a drink (ie great conversation), minus the stuff that makes me feel bad an unproductive.
My next change? I am giving up beer for the next month & seeing how it goes (#306). Drinking beer, even though I really REALLY like it, makes me feel like absolute crap. I'd probably be better off without it.
I know I'm not the only non-alcoholic out there thinking about my drinking in a critical way. In fact, I recently spoke to my friend Jina a little about it last week.
She's recently sober, but not an alcoholic.
It's just a choice she made. I'm posting my interview with her on Thursday and I think you're all going to find it really, really interesting. I know I did, and it's inspired me to be a little healthIER.
If you made it all the way to the end, two thumbs up to you! I wrote this because I had to get it off my mind an onto paper (or Internet, whatever). I realize I've written about lots of personal stuff (this comes to mind), but for some reason, this seems especially personal. Probably because I'm exposing something about myself that I genuinely do not like. Hey Eleanor #307.
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P.S. I've enjoyed a cold brewski quite a few times during my Hey Eleanor escapades. Like that one time I swallowed a live minnow (sorry, PETA), the time I went to a bachelor party, and who could forget the time I fried fish in my own kitchen!