Good LORD. it took forEVER to figure out how to put side-by-side pics together…learning and growing the AFAF way. My Day 1/Day 24. I’m doing this today because the way time flies around this joint, Day 30 may come and go before I even know it. Today, I feel beyond great in every damned way possible, even though I’m tired, eating popcorn for dinner for the third night in a row and I haven’t washed my hair in at least that long because it’s winter in MN and that’s what we do around here this time of year. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyhow, who cares. I feel incredible, inside and out, washed hair or no, and that’s what matters.
Yeah, that Day 24 photo sparkles and shit, and I love how her skin glows and that smile that reaches to the corners of her eyes again. But, let’s talk about that Day 1 pic for a moment, shall we? Because that’s the one that really affects me, knowing the truth behind those sad, tired eyes and what she has gone through to get to Day 1. Because every damned day counts. Every day here matters. All those days that weren’t part of this experiment, that led up to Day 1? yep, them too. Every. damned. one. It’s *that* piece of evidence more than anything, that data point—those Day 1 tired eyes and that trying-hard-to-smile smile, that I am inexplicably, non-negotiably compelled to continue this journey beyond 30 days.
I have done 30 days AF numerous times in the past few years, always finishing with a wipe of the brow and a “phew! made it through that bullshit! Gimme my t-shirt! I’ll just check the “not an alcoholic!” box here, and be on my merry way to celebrate my 30 days with—a bottle of wine, of course!” But beyond 30 days? Has anyone ever even DONE that before??!!! And LIVED to tell the tale?? I know too well what life with alcohol is like; I’m so intrigued to know what the other world is like.
I’ve decided I don’t want any more t-shirts. (that’s me being metaphoric, btw. I don’t really have any t-shirts like that).
I have never before sat with myself and truly analyzed my relationship with alcohol like I have in this live experiment, a dig-deep and get all uncomfortable and dirty and all the feels-feeling kind of experiment that yielded results beyond my wildest expectations. I’ve never before thought about the fact that, other than a handful of 30 days scattered here and there and a medical crisis in the late 90s that forced me into abstinence for a while, I have not gone longer than 30 days without alcohol since I began drinking in earnest in college (we’re talking the 80s here). What a sobering (<—I suspect this is the most overused pun in the AFAF world) thought. I’ve never seriously thought about not drinking before (except for that nagging fear that my drinking would finally stagger into “that bad” territory and I’d be forced to), because that’s just the way it’s always been, how everyone I know has always been, and I didn’t even imagine it could be any other way, unless I got “that bad.” (and I know now that the only difference between me and ‘that bad’ is a matter of dumb luck and time).
I wish I could pin-point exactly what it was this time (or when), that not just tipped, but toppled the scales in favor of being AFAF 4 lyfe (getting that tattooed on my knuckles when we’re done, btw) over going back to what was. I’d say community is a big factor—this group has been nothing short of stunning—that I’d bare my soul as I have on the godforsaken soul-sucking wasteland of facebook, of all places??!! 😱😅still makes me shake my damned head in amusement. Y’all are incredible—your stories make me laugh, cry, catch my breath, stop me in my thoughts…you have restored my faith in humanity (which took a serious blow following the 2016 election in the US)…When is our REAL Live TAE get-together, btw? I want to meet every one of you in person and give you all a big ol’ hug, and I’m not a hugger, for the record. But, it has to be somewhere warm and sunny…
I’m quick to dismiss myself in so much of what I do, and not take credit when credit is due, but I know, with 100% certainty, that me making the commitment to put in the hard time here (and by “hard” I mean “worth every last second”), making this a priority above all else (even over washing my hair) has made my time here incredibly profound and life-altering, too. Every time I’d think “oh man, I don’t have time for a video,” or whatever, I’d do a quick A.C.T, and say “Oh really? Add up all those hours spent in a bar or home alone…Nice try.” The evidence is indisputable. I don’t need more evidence that drinking is not anything I used to believe—I was going to try Annie’s suggestion about filming myself drinking a bottle of wine, but the thought of that isn’t even of interest, because it means wasting a ridiculous amount of time getting wasted, then another day wasted, while recovering from being wasted, and we all know where that dead end road leads.
Right now, in this moment, this feel-good feeling is non-negotiable. I’m not willing to give it up, not even for a “data point.” But I am also a realist; I know that pink clouds can drift away and feel good feelings may wear thin in time, and the memories of what it’s like to live in an alcohol-tinged fog fade, and I might wonder “hmm. I wonder if can I drink in moderation?” I know the answer to that question already, and believe I’m better prepared to handle it in a different way than I have in the past, thanks you you all, to this live experiment, and to those sad but hope-filled Day 1 eyes. I don’t want to do that to her again.