Monday, February 10, 2014

ONE YEAR, NO ALCOHOL, NO "PROBLEM"



"Hi, my name is Paul...."

"Hey, Paul, how are you doing? Good to see you," the crowd said enthusiastically.

"My name is Paul and I am NOT an alcoholic...."

"Ah, man, WTF?! How could you do that to us? We thought for sure you had a problem."

This didn't actually happen, but when I tell people I haven't had a drink since last February
10, they seem remarkably disappointed. It's as if they were hoping I did actually have a problem
with booze.

When I order a cranberry and soda and the bartender asks me if I'm "a friend of Bob", and
I reply, "I'm not a friend of Bob, Bill, or anybody else you know," He seems somewhat shocked.

I celebrated one year without alcohol today, February 10, and it feels damn good. One year ago,
I was in a pizza/beer joint with some of my friends downing large pies and big pitchers of beer
and wondered what the hell I was doing destroying my body and mind with alcohol and bad food.

I decided right then and there that I'd give up not only alcohol, but bread, pizza, cookies, ice cream,
and anything that was white. The Lent season was just three days away and I decided I was going
to give it all up for 40 days as a form a of self-denial which is what a a lot of Catholics do in the
six weeks leading up to Easter.

I didn't miss alcohol or any other evil ingredients I was putting in my body. I started a pretty
intense running program, competing in seven half-marathons in preparation for the NYC
Marathon in November.

After most of the races, there would be pizza and bagels volunteer dished out to
the runners to help replenish the calories burn and carbohydrates lost during the distance runs.
I couldn't even look at pizza and bagels. I saw them as poison.

I consider alcohol the devil. There is not one redeeming quality to drinking. None. I've often
wondered how many accidents, deaths, fights arrests, court appearances, jail time, and financial
stress could've been avoided if there was no alcohol.

I never drank through high school for I was focused on sports and really taking care of my
body and mind. But something happened went to college. I went to UNC on a baseball scholarship
and started to major in having a good time. How could you not in a place like Chapel Hill, N.C.
This was the ultimate school. Sports, beautiful women, and amazing weather.  It was the ultimate
college experience and I soaked every ounce of it up.

I never had a problem, but I do wish I never drank. It's such a total waste of money,  time, and
destroys the gifts that God blessed us with: our bodies and minds. I read stories about college
kids "rushing" sororities and fraternities where they must compete in drinking games in order
to gain acceptance. Every once in a while, tragedy strikes and an 18-year old kid dies from
alcohol over consumption. It's sad and such a waste. A terrible tragedy that could easily been
avoided.

I made it through Lent without touching alcohol and the other items that I considered toxins.
It was a goal accomplished and I wanted to challenge myself even more. I made up my mind
that I would not drink for one year.  365 days without poisoning my liver, heart, and brain.
With each passing day, I felt better and better. The alarm would go off at 5:30 a.m. for a long
run and I'd bounce out of bed. I wondered to myself why I wasn't getting up earlier.

In the nine months leading up to the NYC Marathon, I lost 31 pounds and about two chins.
My waist size went from 36 to 34 and I no longer felt like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow man.

Admittedly, there were a handful of times when I wanted to drink. The stresses of work and
life can test your patience and resolve sometimes, but I wouldn't give in. I had a goal set
in my mind and I wasn't going to mess with the streak of days without alcohol.

After about six months of abstaining from alcohol, I felt I was pretty much free and clear
to accomplishing my goal. Was I going to win anything? No. Did not having any alcohol
make me any better than anyone else? Absolutely not. It didn't mean anything to anybody
but me.

And I don't care what anybody thinks if I never have another drink. I don't ever want to
have a drink ever again. Why? Just because. Alcohol is poison and the devil. I think drinking
is a terrible thing to do, even in "moderation". What's the point? Do you really have to drink
to have a good time? That's such a pathetic excuse. It does nothing but slowly destroy your
mind and body.

I'm done with ever drinking again. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it.

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