Alcoholic Abstinence: Take 2
Back around the end of December, through the beginning of February, motivated by my studies of Eastern spiritual modalities, I did an experiment and gave up drinking almost completely: I would have no more than one drink on any given evening.
Though my social life in Brooklyn is predominantly organized around bars, and though I met a good deal of my friends at one in particular, they were laudably supportive of my decision - even the ones who were bartending... lord knows pouring seltzers isn't the most glamorous side to the profession.
Unfortunately, despite the support and understanding, this period of my life was one of the most isolated and lonely I've had. I tried to continue going out as regularly as I had before, but it turns out, no matter how much you love your friends, they're pretty boring and annoying when they're drunk and you're not. Not to mention my dating life, already in a slump, went from dry to parched.
Unable to bear the loneliness for any longer, the closing two months of our beloved Magnetic Field (RIP), became the excuse for one drink to make its way back to multiple. The seduction of this neighborhood is you can find people to socialize (read: drink) with basically any night of the week. So when I began drinking again, in a reverie of emergence from solitude, I found myself drinking a fair majority of the nights of the week. Even if it's just two or three in a night, that's still a lot of alcohol for a relatively wee person.
As I've mentioned, my yoga practice is very important to me; it's become something that is regularly on my mind, and I find I yearn for class when I can't make it. It is a major force in my life right now, and I believe what will continue to bring me happiness in life as I deepen my practice.
But Tuesday evening I heard myself make a conscious choice - in fact, I believe I said specifically into the microphone at the gameshow in which I was performing, as I ordered another beer, "guess I won't be going to class in the morning." When I awoke, dehydrated and somewhat headache-y, I was saddened and angered by the choice I had made.
Similarly: I am an actor. I am here to be an actor. My life's goal in this city is to make my living without filing and Excel-ing and typing, but to be paid as a working actor. But I recently booked a small role in a new show, and upon receiving a rehearsal schedule which included 9:30AMs both Saturday and Sunday, I was surprised to hear myself think, "well that will be rough since I'll be out late and drinking the nights before."
In both cases, I had actively or preemptively placed alcohol in front of my priorities - a difficult fact to face. But this is a hard city in which to perform; a hard city in which to date; and, consequently, it's a hard city in which to remain sober. This profession swims with intoxication - we are bartenders and waiters, we work late shifts, we 'can't just go to bed after the show,' we 'hope the audience has a couple before they show up,' we just want to forget about that damn audition. And as singles, I don't care what you say about "getting out and doing things" to meet new people - when you've got a city full of models, networkers and go-getters, show me the single who doesn't need a couple to tolerate the dating scene. I remember reporting utterly shocked to a friend after a date I had last October, "we didn't drink!" and then proceeded to have a very brief relationship with the man where we...spent a lot of time drinking.
But I can't to do this anymore. If I'm going to live up to my intentions, then the bottle (or glass, or tumbler...) can't come first. I must say I'm absolutely terrified: as I walked home from the bar even just tonight, water bottle in hand, I already felt those feelings of isolation, loneliness and discomfort return. I would really prefer not to go through the beginning of this year again; my hope is this time around, with a greater sense of clarity and more projects to work on, I won't. But there's no telling.
For now all I can do is take it one "no thanks I'm good," at a time...