I Went AF (Alcohol-Free), And Now I Can’t STFU (Shut The F*CK Up)

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I stopped drinking over four years ago, in part because what I had been labeling as my high tolerance for alcohol was an excuse to suppress my emotions rather than confront them.

Bottling them up — literally —seemed easier than exposing them.

My younger me’s 5-foot, 2-inch body had no right processing alcohol like it was water. But the older I got, and the more I challenged my body to process just one more drink, the more I realized just one more drink was leading me down a rabbit hole where one more would never be enough.

There was also this: When I drank, I had no filter.

One-and-a-half vodka tonics into happy hour, my honesty’s speedometer kicked into uber-overdrive, and it didn’t start decelerating until someone kicked me under the table or someone at the table started crying.

I didn’t think of myself as a mean drunk. But I certainly was an honest one — an overemotional honest one whose repressed feelings spewed from my mouth and hurled in the direction of anyone who was stupid enough to have gone to the same restaurant as me that day.

Vomit would have been less repulsive.

And so, I stopped drinking alcohol. I thought that sobriety would help filter my lack of filters.

It didn’t.

If anything, it kicked my honesty’s uber-overdrive into a gear that put light speed to shame.

The Fine Line Between Being Honest And Being An Asshole

There’s something about the newly sober (or newly anything for that matter) that insists on converting people to their “religion.” God needed a prototype for self-righteousness, and recent converts seemed like the perfect solution.

The first few months of being alcohol free were like a purgatory I went through before I got to the place where I was at peace, and my ego settled down enough to let everyone else be at peace too.

“You’re having more?” I would ask my dinner companions as the waiter poured more Cabernet into their not-yet-empty wine glasses.

Or there were the subtle … “I feel so much better now that I’m not drinking!” (Translation: You’re going to feel like crap tomorrow while I wake up before dawn and write a 1,000-word article before going for a 25-mile bicycle ride. HAHAHAHAHA)

Thankfully, my time in alcohol-free purgatory was brief, probably because I learned quickly that preaching and looking down on people who drank alcohol was not the best way to share my story with them.

My ego insisted I was just trying to help them.

But who am I to judge or think anyone needs help?

Some People Probably Prefer The Former Me

My drink of choice these days is anything a bartender will mix up without alcohol. But my honesty, while not mean, is even more honest than it was before.

I live in South Florida, in the shadow between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Most bartenders here have caught on to making mocktails that even my non-sober friends think are, “Mmmmm, that’s good.”

Some, however, still think that bottled water and Coca-Cola are the only AF beverages they need on their menus.

They haven’t yet learned that sober is the new cool. And they have become my honesty’s new target.

“You know,” I say to the gal or guy behind the bar, “You could make a lot more money in tips by offering adult non-alcoholic beverages to those of us with expendable income who don’t drink.”

Or, if I’m really in a feisty mood, “I just read about a mocktail mixologist competition in Santorini where the winning prize is $50,000. Have you entered yet?”

Yes, I admit, my ego does take an occasional trip back to purgatory. Let’s just say I’ve learned to use it for good.

In the final analysis, the only thing I can do is teach by example —to continue my sober-serious journey and inspire others through my abstinence.

And that, my friends, is something that’s way louder than words.

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