Why I Quit Drinking
I was never the kind of guy who drank because of my developed pallet or my fond appreciation for the craft, or even because it complemented the food I was eating. I drank for one soul purpose, to get absolutely, next level fucked up!
It wasn’t always like that, I never had a single drink in high school actually. Weekends revolved around going to the movies or band practice and I was kind of a loner, so naturally, I liked to spend a lot of time alone. It was only when I got to college that I was first introduced.
Every once in a while I’d venture off to a house party, because I knew that cutie from economics would be there of course, and I’d play the cool guy, have a couple of shots and play beer pong. What an experience, because the first time I did was like magic; I felt the quiet, loner veil lift from over me and I transformed into Mr. Talkative; telling jokes and spreading wisdom to the masses. But I was an amateur, and I’m pretty sure the first 5 times I went out, that glory only lasted a few hours before I’d throw up. So I learnt to pace myself until I could build a tolerance.
Fast forward a few years and not only did I build a tolerance, but I was the one having the parties, every week. I was 21, going to school, working for my dad’s company and playing shows with my band, consistently mediocre across all spectrums. The only thing I excelled in was the good times department, and I excelled.
Our group’s attendance record was legendary, and we were a bunch of loveable degenerates straight out of the movies. Although none of us made all that much money, we pooled our resources and made Wednesday to Saturday night outings possible. The idea of me being a quiet loner was now unfathomable, and I had become a party legend in my own right, or so I thought.
Years went by, the parties got crazier, the memories faded quicker, my creativity had completely dissipated, and I had taken my circus act on the road for work; it turns out people like to party, because business was booming.
Wrong. Something was off, something had changed. After years of eat, sleep, repeat, I wasn’t having fun anymore.
The glory days of being the hero, the one night stands, the lavishness; the epitome of freedom and success. I had become a caricature. The quiet, loner who loved to write music and watch horror movies alone on Saturday nights hadn’t had any peace or quiet for years. Was I really free? This lifestyle had become a chore, something people depended on me for. If I didn’t fly out twice a year to party with a customer, I could lose their business; if I didn’t answer my friends two weekends in a row, they wouldn’t call me anymore.
Freedom was an illusion. I realized it wasn’t so much an addiction to alcohol itself, but the fact that everything in my life revolved around alcohol. If I were to quit cold turkey, then I’d be quitting my life as I knew it.
Then one day I sketched out something in my notebook I still think about every day. Essentially it was the idea that if I drank heavily one night, then I wouldn’t be back to normal for at least 2 days, at least in my experience. Now if I was going hard 3 nights a week, that would be 6 days of recovery, meaning I’d only be 100% clear and focused 1 out of 7 days every week. By that logic, I had gone almost 10 years only using 14% or less of my potential.
I looked myself in the mirror and acknowledged that my success up to that point was only measured in vanity. Top line sales, not profitability; how many girls I slept with, not meaningful relationships; how many shots I could take before I blacked out, not pushups. Just like the caricature of myself, I had built up a resume of shallow victories that were placed sloppily on a burning house of cards.
In reality, sales for the company were increasing, but the infrastructure couldn’t support the growth and we were tearing at the seams. I may have been popular with the ladies but I couldn’t imagine engaging in conversation in a sober state. Scariest of all I was drinking at unbelievable levels, blacking out almost every weekend. It’s a miracle nothing too horrible happened.
As this information overload punched me in the face, I had no choice but to quit everything cold turkey. I could no longer fathom that 4 hours of fun would cost me 48 hours of time. I didn’t care if I’d lose friends or customers, I didn’t care about breaking commitments or going against my word.
I had a new mission, I had to find out what 100% clarity could accomplish.
So I bit off more than I could chew, on purpose. I decided if the company’s infrastructure needed to be rebuilt, I was going to take it on, and do 10 years of work in 2 years. And the only way to make it happen would be if I lead by example, like a general. Not only did I need to be mentally clear, but I had to be in top physical form too. My body had to represent my mind, so I began the process of rebuilding myself, in and out.
When I met someone, I wanted them to understand I was serious, I was calculated, focused and most importantly, I didn’t take more than I needed.
A night of drinking was no longer justifiable because I had to be the most focused guy in the room, and in the gym. Hangovers weren’t an option. At first it was difficult to tell people I wasn’t drinking anymore, fearful of the embarrassment I might face, but that too was a muscle, and after a while I realized the ability to say no became my superpower.
Pretty soon, people weren’t reaching out at all; my days were stacked but my evenings were baron. For the first little while I’d binge watch TV shows or overload on my favorite x-rated sites, but that could only go on for so long. I had to fill that empty space with something more productive. Before that it was drinks after work, dinners, get home, pass out, wake up and do it all again; my schedule was always full.
But for the first time in years there was pure silence. It was a strange but familiar feeling… I felt like a kid again. I remembered how I loved to be alone, because that’s when I could think, and draw and write and do whatever I wanted.
And that’s when I picked up my guitar again; when I started reading nutrition blogs; when I watched every Arnold Schwarzenegger interview, ever. I had real freedom, and from the time I got home to the time I went to bed I was learning, creating and picking up where I had left off before that very first house party.
Having pure silence and creativity gave me the energy and perspective to take on the world around me at full force. I literally tried to throw 10 years of evolution at the family business in a 2 year period, and it nearly sank the ship, but it was all or nothing in my eyes, and we’re still here. I actually got involved with a few other projects during that period, because things weren’t hectic enough.
It’s been about 2 years now, and I can say that clarity isn’t for the faint of heart, because there’s no hiding. Whatever was being hidden under the rug had to be dealt with, and there was a ton. That alone has been the most gruelling yet humbling experience of my life.
And that’s why I’m here, writing this, because I don’t regret any of what I did, and I wouldn’t be doing what I am today if it weren’t for it. The memories, the experiences and my friends were all real, all amazing and all necessary. But the moment I realized I had gone as far in that direction as I could go, it was time for a new challenge.
People ask me all the time how I do it or comment “you need to live a little”. Other than the first few months of discipline, it’s all become routine for me now. The real work was transitioning from my old routine to this new one. And I might be 100% clear but it doesn’t mean I’m spinning my tires 100% of the time, like I used to. I actually have a lot more free time now, and it allows me to be more strategic in everything I do. I’m not so concerned with keeping up appearances, I’m more concerned with making the right moves, and doing what I like.
And all I really had to do to figure it out was spend less time being hungover.
The truth is I’m not writing this to tell anyone to do what I did. What I’m really saying is I’m doing what makes me feel like the best version of myself, and I believe that’s what everyone should strive for.