It’s been more than five months since my last drink, and I feel good!
I hate to disappoint you, but my last sip of alcohol was not part of a nightmarish bender. It was, in fact, quite prosaic: a bottle of San Miguel, perhaps preceded by one other bottle at most, consumed on Malapascua Island in Cebu – a pretty good place for drinking, as far as that goes. Nothing interesting happened, good or bad, as a consequence of my consumption of that solitary beer. If anything, the sheer blandness of that experience is probably what finally inspired me to stop drinking.
My drinking habit is something that formed gradually and imperceptibly. For years I wasn’t terribly interested in alcohol, partly due to my parents’ brilliant efforts to deglamourize it by offering me and my brother little sips of wine over family dinners at home, starting at quite a young age. It worked quite well, I think, until I moved 11,000 kilometres from home, and negative habits gradually began to take root.
Once I was on my own, I began to sporadically experiment with more excessive forms of drinking. Manila’s infinite quantities of nightlife, along with the overall Filipino fondness for drinking, provide ample opportunities to drink to the point of regret. But although I’ve been plenty drunk plenty of times since, it didn’t take me long to realize the limited appeal of heavy drinking. Inhibitions have long since ceased to be a major problem for me – if anything, the problem is that I tend to be too much myself – so being drunk never offered many advantages other than making boring people seem like more interesting company. On the other hand, the disadvantage of feeling absolutely terrible afterward was pretty hard to miss. Even the social advantages tended to be rather one-sided, given the fact that I am, based on my experience, quite socially objectionable when I’ve had a few too many. And the alienation I experienced caused me to get frustrated and behave more badly, leading to some experiences too awful to describe in any sort of detail. As the sad, lonely, regrettable experiences with drunkenness began to pile up, the disadvantages of heavy drinking became quite hard to miss. And although I’ve still had to re-learn that lesson from time to time, with all the subsequent occasions I’ve hoped against all odds that heavy drinking would help me cut loose, give me a night to remember, etc., it almost always led only to more reminders of why limiting myself to a couple of beers was a very good idea. (more…)