220 days

savolainen_slaavikyykky_220_vuorokautta

Many Finns try to sober up in Dry January after drinking a lot during the holiday season (Christmas and New Year). Well I had a “wet January”. In other words, just like in any other time of my life I could have gone on some weekend’s evening for “one or two” e.g. after a movie. My history book with use of substances is as thin as the book of Italian army’s heroic deeds in World War 2. I haven’t often said no, but I’ve always used alcohol only in moderate amounts. In fact so moderately that the doctor during my physical check-up said that I have the liver of a newborn baby (my liver values were below the normal reference scale). My only problem was that I liked to smoke when drinking and that was something that easily stayed on.

220 days

February 5th and my long awaited hip surgery came (hip impingement syndrome, keyhole surgery). I knew how important it was to maximize the probabilities of rehabilitation in every aspect. You should be careful with what you put into your mouth in order to avoid inflammation. Besides, being 4 weeks on crutches means you are less likely to go out even for one beer as it’s hard enough as it is to move. And so it happened. I took the process of rehabilitation so seriously that now 220 days later I still haven’t taken one drop of alcohol. This time period has included such events as May Day and walking around the city in student jumpsuits and you don’t drink then, well, when then? 😀

Why stop drinking completely if it wasn’t a problem in the first place? Because I can. Because I care about myself and my body. Because I see a lot of effort for my well-being so why shovel it out from the other end? Because I want to seek pleasure from with’in and not from chemicals. Because I have a strong enough self-esteem to do so, cause it’s easier to take than withhold. It’s also about showing off to myself, to prove something, demonstrate discipline and self-control. The desire to be a better version of myself.

Motivation” is a term all familiar in occupational therapy and psychologically it’s an intriguing topic. What happened to me happens with motivation in the best case scenario – the external motivation transforms into internal motivation (I’ll get back on this favorite topic of mine in the future). Still I don’t regard myself as a teetotaller. If I have a reason good enough to drink something else than a ginger ale with rocks then I will drink. However it’s getting harder to envision such an occasion as I’ve enjoyed so wholeheartedly this good, energetic and clean condition I have all the time. Yet one has to remember that refraining from substances doesn’t make anyone a better person, but they do become better versions of themselves. And you are always ready to go out for an exercise, even on Saturday and Sunday mornings. 😉

Reactions and adverse effects

I’ve noticed to my surprise that soberness causes different kind of reactions around you. I’ve discussed this matter with some friends and they have very similar observations. I would classify these reactions in to four groups:

  • there are those who think it’s a really good thing, good for you, thumbs up
  • there are those who are for some reason clearly irritated (assumably because they do not believe they could do the same)
  • there are those who automatically presume that you had a massive alcohol problem cause otherwise booze should taste every weekend
  • and then there are those who (when intoxicated) want to force you having a drink too and become angry if you don’t (presuming that you now remark yourself as a better human being than they are, cause let’s face it – this is the interpretation you get from them between the lines)

True friends will understand and like your company as it is especially if you can be a vibrant, social and humoristic self while blowing zeros. And I do not moralize others, you can and are allowed to drink without me educating on intoxicants. But what does this say about the finnish (nooze)culture in wider sense? The whole Dry January as a phenomenon is sickeningly sad and gives out a wrong signal. That being sober for one month is some kind of a great achievement? It’s as sad as writing laws to limit the hours that beer can be sold at grocery stores between morning 09am to evening 21pm just because the individual can’t no longer limit himself. Or to determine the “still reasonable amount of units” so high that (men 21 units / week) there isn’t a single soul in this country who wouldn’t become sooner or later an alcoholic by following the Brewery Union’s recommendations (no matter if he took 3 beers every evening or 10+10 in the weekend).