Re-evaluating My Relationship to Alcohol

My favorite!

This post is inspired by an article in Sunday’s (1/17/21) New York Times (NYT), Reimagine Your Relationship to Alcohol. I am trying its suggested 30-days abstinence program to re-evaluate my relationship to alcohol (EtOH), not to become a teetotaler, heaven forbid. I wanted to evaluate how EtOH impacts my life brought on by another of my New Year’s goals of going deeper into my spiritual practice, which I blogged about previously.

To put things into perspective, on the CheckUp & Choices screening test, I come out in the low end of their scale, indicating that my drinking is not putting me at risk for alcohol problems (e.g., abuse or addiction). It is more that as I have gotten older, I have found a drink in my usual “cocktail hour” makes me sleepy, and I want to go to bed earlier. Therefore, I wake up earlier, which means my wake-sleep cycle gets disturbed and I don’t get much done in the evenings.

Why am I paying attention to this now? Aside from the above, I want to start being able to participate in evening Zen meditation services as part of my effort to go deeper in my spiritual practice (mentioned above). If I have a drink, even several hours before the 7:00pm sittings begin, trying to sit in quiet, still meditation (zazen), becomes very problematic: I keep wanting to fall asleep and have difficulty staying focused. Plus, like many folks during this pandemic and its increased isolation, I have noticed my alcohol-use level creeping up on occasion. Finally, after all these years of having one or two drinks a day, I wanted to be able to evaluate the differences without it. I am keeping a journal on it as I go.

I’m on Day 5 today. I got through Days 1-3. They were tougher than I thought they would be however. I’m good till my usual cocktail hour, now that I’m pretty much retired, that’s between 4:00-5:00 usually, but not always. It depends on what I am doing that day. I “blew” it a little on Day 4. I had a beer, Negra Medelo, my favorite Mexican beer, with my Tex-Mex dinner. Today is a new day though.

Some of what I have observed about myself in my first four days: About 2/3 ways through that beer yesterday, I realized I wasn’t enjoying it. Tried to give the rest of it to Tricia, who was with me, but she had already had her sip. Didn’t want it to go to waste, so I finished it. I have more energy in the evenings and stay up later, all the way to 9:00 or 10:00pm, when I don’t have that drink. And, I get more done, e.g. catching up on some of my magazine reading, kitchen cleaned up after dinner, projects, etc. I’ve participated now in three evening Zen sessions, as opposed to zero before I started abstaining.

We will see how this goes. It has already been insightful. My goal is to cut back on my EtOH consumption to maybe one time a week with my cigar (yes, that’s another story). I do relish my cigar and scotch though.

Wish me good temporary abstinence.