What I Learned About Myself After Not Drinking For A Month

Well, it happened. After 30 days of sobriety, I threw in the towel and hit it hard on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, the Cubs won, and one of my best friends was in town for the weekend. The pieces fell into place perfectly, and let me tell you, a vodka soda while hanging out on a bar patio in the company of good people with Despacito playing in the background has never tasted better.

The only problem with my transition back into “fun” Charlie was that I took it too far. You see, I was struggling with the idea of jumping right back into drinking, but when I was talking to my friend, we decided that to jump would be the best way. If I was going to do it, I would go balls to the wall. And balls to the wall I went. From shots to beers to making people mad at me, I covered all of my bases as far as falling off the wagon goes.

I woke up Sunday morning with just enough time to make a cup of coffee and hold back tears as I drove back to the suburbs for my brother’s graduation in physical pain from my hangover. During that harrowing 45 minutes, I pieced together the night and replayed it over and over, seeing where I went wrong. Here are my takeaways.

I cannot drink like I’m 22 anymore.

Okay, okay, I was coming off of a really long period of sobriety, but my alcohol tolerance simply isn’t what it used to be. Realistically, I didn’t have a large quantity of drinks that night. It’s what I would have called a slow night two years ago. But for some reason, three vodka sodas rendered me incapable of explaining that I was just going with the flow for the night — which is not a concept that is hard to explain, but I decided to make it incredibly complicated for myself by framing it as, “I’m not making plans for anything but if anyone wants to come meet up with us wherever we go they’re all invited unless we go somewhere else.” Nice work, pal.

I have absolutely no concept of time.

In order to make it back to the suburbs on time, I had to wake up at 8:30 a.m. The smart decision would be to head home at around 1:30 a.m. and pass out. Instead, at around 1:45 a.m., I got a text from a friend to go to a different neighborhood and meet up at a bar that was closing at 2:30 a.m. “Sure!” I said.

I got to the bar at 2:15, had one drink, and then we all went our separate ways. Any sane person would have realized that it wouldn’t have been worth it, but then again, I may as well have been incapacitated at that point in the night.

It is astonishing that I haven’t been mugged yet. (Knocks on wood.)

After spending the last 15 minutes of open hours in The VIG in Old Town, I decided it would be a good idea to wander around the neighborhood and ended up sitting on a stoop to some townhome. I was there for about 45 minutes, spending most of the time just, y’know, kickin’ it and making new friends. Seriously. More on that in a second.

There are a lot of reasons why that was a bad idea. Any number of things could have happened. I could have dropped my phone and cracked the screen, or gotten the shit kicked out of me and become a meme. What’s worse is that this isn’t the first time I’ve pulled shit like that! Historically, if I get hammered, I’ll just leave and not tell anyone where I’m going. The worst of it was when I did that in Vegas. Can’t account for, like 4 hours of the night. And yet, somehow I keep coming out without something horrifying happening. I can’t explain it.

Advice comes from the most unexpected places.

This ties back to the whole “how the fuck have I not been mugged yet?” thing, but as I sat on the stoop, a homeless man approached me.

“Hey man,” he said before I cut him off.

“I’m sorry dude, I don’t have any cash.”

“I don’t give a fuck about that,” he said, “You’re on my stoop.”

“Oh…Oh shit, man. I’m so sorry,” I said, looking up at him. I started to get up.

“Hey, it’s no big deal brother,” he replied. “Sit back down. Are you okay? You look upset.”

I hesitated and sat down. “Yeah, yeah man just going through some shit right now.” He sat down next to me.

“Talk to me about it. What’s on your mind?”

“Oh, I don’t think…It’s really not a big deal,” I told him.

“Well, you’re on my stoop and you’re upset. Nobody is allowed to be upset on my stoop. So lay it on me, kid.”

And so I looked at my phone, put it in my pocket, and laid it on him. Unloaded on this guy. Gave him every insecurity I had, probably too many. I told him about how I was feeling pressure at work, how I feel like I’ve fallen out of touch with anyone I consider close, and ultimately how I just felt at a crossroads. At the end, he put his hand on my shoulder and uttered some words of wisdom.

“Kid, you’re 24, single, and steadily employed. If this is the worst shit going on for you, you’re in good shape.”

“You think so?” I replied.

“Well I’m fucking homeless, so yeah, I’m sure there are worse things out there than feeling lost in your professional life.”

And there you have it. Healthy choices are nice, but I gotta say, it’s good to be back.

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Using sarcasm as a defense mechanism since 1993. At any given moment I'm either tired, drunk, or stressed out. Get at me at or whatever.

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