Embracing The New Me Part II, Quitting Alcohol

You can catch up on Part I here: link.

Reflecting on my previous account of my transformation, I realize that I may have simplified things a bit too much. So, I want to delve deeper into this ‘new me’ journey and lay out the key decisions that led me to this point. Much of my transformation circles back to the old saying, “you are what you eat“. In my case, the life-altering decision was giving up alcohol.

From my legal drinking age up until about four months ago, the thought of quitting alcohol seemed neither possible nor necessary. I laughingly mention ‘legal age’ because my dalliance with the bottle began much earlier than the law would have approved. I was, in essence, a heavy drinker. Every life phase seemed to amplify my alcohol consumption.

My introduction to alcohol came during middle school, primarily because it was the ‘in thing’ among my friends. The ease of buying alcohol underage in Indonesia played a significant role in fostering our early drinking habits. Local or traditional alcohol was readily available in mom-and-pop stores or certain traditional eateries. Being a cash-strapped middle-class Indonesian with a highly-educated father put a limit on my drinking.

As my band gained fame, invitations to celebrations, parties, and after-parties started pouring in, with free-flowing alcohol a common perk. With the increase in my earnings post my musician years, I found I could afford to drink more regularly.

From Bar-Hopping to The Convenient of Home

Flash forward to the pandemic starting in 2020. Living in Santa Clara County, alleged to be the home of the first COVID-infected person (source), and one of the first to implement shelter-in-place in March 2020, my entertainment options became quite limited.

With bars and social spaces out of the equation, I shifted my drinking to my home. After work, I’d immediately head to the fridge, and weekends started with a morning drink. My habit morphed into a craving, dictating my actions to the point of excess – drinking until I passed out, waking up, and starting all over again.

Nobody recognizes they have a drinking problem until they hit rock bottom. For me, the wake-up call was a daily bout of stomach pain after each alcohol-induced sleep. It was becoming evident that drinking was no longer about quenching thirst but was instead creating problems.

In February 2023, I decided to try sobriety. A month later, on my first visit to the doctor to assess my health, the verdict was harsh. I was in terrible shape, the worst I had ever been. She advised me to stop drinking, which I had already initiated. I’ve been sober since, even attending rock shows without any alcohol, like Ville Valo in San Francisco (link) and a few others that I plan to post in the future.

The initial weeks were tough. Upon waking, my thoughts would immediately turn to how much longer until I could sleep again. I was afraid to wake up. Slowly but surely, though, my sobriety started to feel like a new normal. My reward? No more high glucose levels. Adapting to the new me became its own source of pleasure.

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