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Label-Free Sobriety - Powerless


I am getting ready to leave work when a friend of mine mentions he and several coworkers are going to go out for drinks, and he invites me along. I don't say this, but I have been concerned about my drinking lately, so I have been trying to cut back. I tell my friend that I have other plans, as a way of getting out of the invite. My friend then tells me I have to come, it has been too long since we all got together. He tells me not to be a drag. I don't like the way that feels because it feels unfair. I tell him I am not a drag, I just have things to do. He responds by accusing me of being too good to hang out with friends. I tell him to stop being a jerk. He laughs and says, "Hey, I was just joking. Come on, just have one with us, it'll be like old times." I reluctantly agree.

We go to our regular bar and find a table to occupy. I don't even have to order my drink because the server knows what I drink and delivers it. She mentions she hasn't seen me in a while. I respond, I have been busy. She welcomes me back. It feels good she noticed my absence. I down the first beer so quickly I actually wonder what happened to its contents when I reach down to pick it up for another drink. The server drops off another without my ordering it. I look at the second beer and have a moment of reflection about what I am trying to do, cut back. The moment is gone faster than it appeared and before I know it, the second beer is gone, then the third, then the fourth, then shots of tequila show up.

The next thing I know I am concentrating as hard as I can to maintain focus on the road while I try to navigate my way home in my car. I take the backroads in an effort not to get caught doing what I know I should not be doing in the first place. It never even crossed my mind not to drive. I mean, I had to get home, I had work in the morning. Somehow, I make it home. At the door to my house, I struggle for several minutes trying to first, find my keys, and second to get the key in the lock. I make my way into the bedroom, and I somehow remember and manage to set the alarm on my phone before passing out on top of the covers fully dressed.

I wake up the next morning to the blaring of the alarm clock and a massive pounding in my head. I involuntarily swear at myself out loud before I walk into the bathroom where I get a glimpse of the man in the mirror who once again let me down. He looks like shit. He looks old. There is a bruise on my cheek. I shake my head, and I tell myself how pathetic I am for not having the strength to stand up for myself. What's the use, anyway. I am never going to be able to quit drinking. I go to work, loathing my existence, and I immediately begin looking forward to having a drink when I get home.

That is powerless


I am getting ready to leave work when a friend of mine mentions he and several coworkers are going to go out for drinks, and he invites me along. I don't say this, but I have been concerned about my drinking lately, so I decided to quit. I hadn't told anyone because I felt like it was my personal journey and something I needed to do for myself. I decline his offer. My friend then tells me I have to come because it has been too long since we all hung out. I tell him I know, but I have things I need to do. He tells me not to be a drag. I look at him and tell him I am not being a drag. He guffaws and asks if I think I am too good for them. I tell him no and not to be a jerk. He laughs and tells me he was only joking and punches my arm. I reach up and rub my arm, his punch actually hurt. The slight pain reminds me of all the unknown bruises I have acquired over the years from the numbness that occurred due to my drinking. I then recall something I read recently that talked about the society of alcohol and how people will not only encourage drinking but expect it from each other. This pisses me off and so I look at my friend and say, "Dude, I actually quit drinking. I don't really want to come along. Sorry, but you have fun." He backs away from me as if I have polio. He responds, "Aww man, don't be a quitter." He laughs and attempts to punch my arm again. I catch his wrist and gently push his fist away from me before it connects. I laugh and tell him again to have fun. In my head, I think to myself, "I am so glad I am done with that nonsense." I walk away. As I am leaving I hear my old friend say, "Aw man, I was just joking... whatever man. Have fun by yourself, you always brought the group down anyway." I smile.

I get in my car and head home feeling good about my decision to stick to my plan. It didn't feel good to have an altercation with one of my best friends over drinking, but it did feel good to know I can stand up for myself. When I get home, my wife greets me and asks me how my day was. I tell her about the altercation. She tells me about a similar experience she had recently. She quit drinking at the same time as me. We laugh about the craziness of it all. We are both amazed at the societal peer pressure that accompanies alcohol. We have a mocktail together for our own version of happy hour. She has dealcoholized wine, and I have a NA beer. We sit on the patio and enjoy the view from our deck. Afterward, I go and get a workout in. That is one of the things I promised myself I would bring back in my life since quitting drinking. After I work out, I shower and grab my computer and meet my wife outside. We both spend some time working on personal goals. She reads and meditates. I write a blog, edit my novel, and spend some time organizing some podcast interviews I do to help others working through sobriety.

Once we feel we have done some quality work on our personal goals, I go in and make dinner. I am the cook in the family. I make a stuffed zucchini dish with a side salad. We eat dinner together at the table and talk about things that are going on in our lives. We make plans for a trip we have coming up and talk about some loftier dreams we want to achieve someday. After dinner, we clean up and agree to watch one of our favorite television shows. It's one of our routines. When it's time to go to bed, we both take a book and read for a little while in bed before gently falling off to sleep.