It’s always fascinating to me how quickly humans tend to acclimate to new situations. One that I’m always mentioning is the acclimation to a new climate. In Seattle, we have a mild climate, thanks to moderation from the Puget Sound. In an average year, the highest temperature is 64°F and the coldest is 41°F. This year has not been average. However, our highest temperatures this summer still did not compare to what people living in say, the midwest, or even on the other side the Cascade Mountain Range, experience every year. But when if you live here for even a few years, you get used to it. You forget what 90 degrees in your small hometown felt like every year of your life, and suddenly you are wishing fall were here again when you’ve had a week straight of low-80s! Or you’re waiting at a bus stop on a rare 32 degree day, bracing yourself against a biting breeze, apparently with no memory of waiting for the school bus in 10 degrees and a foot of snow for four years. You’ve acclimated. I acclimated very quickly. Just a few weeks ago, I took a quick road trip to Yakima for my cousin’s bridal shower and was not expecting the stifling heat of 92! I have been spoiled by this city.
Another thing I have found myself acclimating to (and the point of this post) is drinking less. Oh yes, we are being transparent and we are hitting hard. I realized last week that I was drinking too often and too much, so I’ve decided to cut back. It hit me while I was lying on the couch on Thursday, knowing I had to get up and shower and go to bed, but my mind was racing with anxiety. Wondering why I was anxious about nothing made me feel depressed, and I asked Kurt what was wrong with me. He asked me, “Well when was the last time you didn’t have a drink all day?” I thought about it. About a week. I also realized the only reason I hadn’t had a drink that night was probably because we ran out of alcohol in the house the day before and I didn’t have any plans with friends.
You see, when you can afford to go out whenever a friend wants to, and most of your social engagements involve drinking, and there’s hardly anyone around you who isn’t, and you have a bunch of bottles that just happened to go home with you after your birthday party at the beach, it’s really easy to just… go a whole week and drink everyday. Not get drunk, just have a drink. Usually one. But the previous Friday, I’d had too much. Like not even subjectively too much. Like absolutely too much. I don’t enjoy missing part of a night and having someone tell me how it went the next morning.
I’m not glorifying this. It was stupid, I know. It scared me. I won’t pretend it was the first time that’s happened, but lying on the couch a week later, realizing that I’d had a drink everyday since that night and then felt anxious without it, I realized I needed to make a change. At first, I was like, “Why? It’s not like it’s affecting my life that much. It was just one blurry night.” But then I started thinking about all the good things that would come out of just cutting back. My friends have all been supportive and have helped me stay the course and see the benefits as well: It’s better for my health. I’ll lose weight. I’ll save money. My tolerance will go down, which will be more cost-effective and make me want to drink less anyway. And it’s already working. I am amazed at how quickly my tolerance has changed. In the last 9 days, I have had a total of 5 drinks. My goal was 3 a week, if any, Sunday to Saturday. This week, I had 4, but nobody’s perfect.
I did learn that there are certain bars where I should definitely only get one, like the place where I met a friend for happy hour yesterday. They make them so strong! After leaving, I realized I had a buzz I normally felt after 4 drinks. Probably because those were both doubles, but on Monday and Wednesday, when I only had one drink all day, I did feel like they were having more of an effect than one drink normally would on me. And it’s only been a week. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by how easy this is. The Sunday after my first party where I consciously decided “only one drink tonight” was miserable. I hated my decision. I wanted to go back. But I have so many friends who are supporting me and have been through this before. I have friends who have quit completely, but I feel like that would be too stressful for me right now. Maybe I will in the future, but right now, 3 a week is already so much better than I was doing, and I am already feeling the effects. I’m glad I’m doing this. I am looking forward to feeling more awake and alert, enjoying the company of my friends without getting wasted, fitting into my favorite skinny jeans comfortably, and putting my money toward more worthwhile things. I look forward to full acclimation.