As founder and former coach of the Gigsville Drinking Team, many of my friends are baffled when they see me not getting blotto at parties these days. In fact, I don't drink at all at parties or at home. It's kind of a conscious choice and kind of not.
It started with the hiatus hernia, which looks like this illustration you see to the right. Basically, part of my stomach decided to jump ship up to the other side of my diaphragm and fill my esophagus with acid, which in turn gave me ulcers all the way up to my tonsils. Hooray!*
As a result, I had to quit drinking so the ulcers could heal and hopefully the hernia would just drift back into happy stomach land (my doctor says that hiatus hernias never actually go away, but I keep the faith). After a couple weeks of not drinking, I realized I didn't really miss it... and what's more, I really didn't miss feeling at about 70% of my best most of the time. I felt sharper, happier, and more organized overall.
Not only that, I never worried whether I was too drunk to drive and I never had to wonder if I'd made a total idiot of myself the night prior. Plus, I'm losing weight. I've lost more than 10 lbs since I quit, including me eating nearly anything I want (including hamburgers and cookies and candy bars).
(on the other hand, I'm definitely less fun than I am when I'm drinking)
When I went to Europe, all bets were off and I drank like crazy. I even was a total idiot when I was drunk in London. But it was fun. I do love drinking.
Back stateside, though, I decided I'd just go back to not drinking in my daily life. It's ok if I pre-arrange to have cocktails for a special occasion (I am going to have a couple cocktails on the 12th of December for the photo shoot and then I'll probably spend all of Mardi Gras pretty toasted), but in general, I'm just sipping on seltzer.
And yeah, there's a lot I miss about hanging out with my friends and drinking. I think mostly it's just the hanging out with my friends part that I miss. We'd have a lot of fun just chilling on Elliot's patio and having beer after beer, talking about nothing in particular, until it seemed like a good idea to go to Johnny's (which is never a good idea) and go totally crazy (usually resulting in shots and us scrambling around to find vodka at 3:00 in the morning at Elliot's house). Those were some good times! But oogh. I just don't think I can afford to lose a whole day to a hangover anymore. Maybe once I'm moved in, but not today.
My friends always ask if this is a just-for-now thing or a forever thing. AA people have this saying "Just for today," which struck me as a pretty huge lack of commitment (no offense, alkies out there). For me, I've just adopted the same stance that I have towards drugs... it's not that I have anything against them. I've had lots of fun times on drugs. But they just don't fit in my life anymore. And until drinking fits better into my life, I'm not going to arrange my life to fit around drinking.
(all that said, I still love hanging out with friends in bars and stuff. drunk people are fuh-nee)
* They do not know what causes hiatus hernias, but they occur in about 60% of people under 50 years old.