Drinking for the sake of drinking was a way to cope with a life I hadn't planned and didn't think could get better. There wasn't any satisfaction in consuming Brava Light, I drank it with relish because I knew that as each bottle landed back in the box, I was one step closer to escaping to oblivion. Parties were planned because drinking alone made things worse and at least with people around I didn't feel like such a loser. The need for a beer became so overwhelming some days that I would find myself drinking in anger because I hated needing it so much. The ability to consume a dozen plus beers in one sitting each day was a point of sick pride and being able to finish a 24 a high mark in a dreary existence. It never went to hard liquor mostly because it meant more work; mixes, ice and glasses were too fancy for this guy. Just twist off the top and pour it back. I cannot bring back the days lost, the moments of sheer terror when I would realise I was heading into a dark space and couldn't stop myself. I look back to not so many years ago and cannot imagine what was in my head day after day as I plunged the bulk of my energy into snuffing out my life, one gulp after another.
The rise of craft beer is not only responsible for the change in my beer drinking habits, it is the entire reason I am able to write these words today. What started out as a competition to see who could get the most check-ins on Untappd has led me to rediscover my love of the written word and a life I thought was long gone. The very act of writing has opened up a well of emotions and thoughts I had buried deep within myself and every time I review a beer, make a video or write a longer post here, I am reclaiming my very self. The guy who looked toward the future with such relish at 16, turned bitter, depressed and empty at 40 and now halfway to 50, is finding salvation. The beer isn't the issue, it was a means to an end and now that end has changed.
I drink now to enjoy what is in my glass. I want to open a few beers not to escape but to belong, to be part of something bigger than myself and contribute to its' larger story. I don't spend a moment of my day wanting a beer to get hammered, but I do think about the story I will tell when I pour it in my glass. I care about every beer I have now because each one is a singular moment that adds joy to my life. I don't want to look at my fridge as a way to lose myself but as the source of inspiration. The narrative has been altered and the time remaining in my life is made better by the beer not destroyed by it.
Can I truly say I have left the old ways behind? I would love to say yes but know better. Moments in time come to me and beckon with the siren call of so many empty promises. I only now have come to grips with my own problems and make sure I try to confront issues troubling me rather than hiding behind a veil of bottles emptied in vein. I work hard to ensure I don't drink in anger or sadness but rather with an awareness of my past and my weakness in self control. I try to always approach each beer with a curiosity and open mind so that the review or story that follows helps show people that you can change and my life is proof.
I will always have to remain aware of what I drink, no doubt there will be mistakes and I will have to own that. But the reason I can look myself in the mirror again and not hate the person looking back is due to a choice I made to say no to pounding macro beer in a race to the bottom. I am very lucky to have been able to discover a way out and while I am still a person who has to drink with purpose to remain in control, being aware of just that gives me hope for my continued rise from the ashes. It's not a perfect story with a happy ending but then again, real life is messy and the mistakes we make help shape the direction we go. I will keep raising my glass and my expectations, One beer at a time.