Cocktails vs Abstinence

I saw this “cocktail sextet” of various gin-tonics earlier today as I was submerged deep, deep down in my archives. It’s from a rare combo shoot where high res stills and a film were both parts of the F&B gig. I think I captured the essence of a staged bar scene pretty well. In addition, it’s one of my more popular photos on Shutterstock.

The film can be viewed here.

Aside from feeling artistically proud about the composition, the shot also reminded me of something I’ve written about many, many times before here on the blog; my ongoing, complex, love-hate relationship with alcohol.

It’s now been almost two weeks since my last drink – which to me sounds like something I would be saying at an AA meeting if I ever went to one. Not that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. Cause it has. Just not that often.

Now, now. Don’t misinterpret me.

I do not miss drinking and have no problem with 100% sobriety. Especially here, living on my own for a while in the peaceful, wonderfully lonesome Vejbystrand. But also considering I suffer mentally and physically from a life-long inability to stay within my limit. I never yearn for just one sip, one shot or one beer. My problem is that I want more than just the “Release”. And I easily fall into a destructive cycle after being on a binge.

The “Release”, as a friend of a friend so appropriately coined the emotion many years ago, is that explicit moment after you’ve had that very first sip of wine, a swig of beer, shot of bourbon. It’s when that familiar, warm, relaxing sensation begins to flow outwards from your belly, throughout your veins and body, finally reaching your head and calming your mind. This is when you begin to think that everything, just everything is fine, all is forgiven and so much is forgotten. This, dear reader, is what I miss.

After living half my life in Sweden, I can say with some authority that the social culture here almost demands that you participate in some of the ancient traditions – reoccurring celebrations where alcohol is at the forefront of the occasion. These include annual holidays, like Midsummer, Easter, and Christmas, but also the infamous corporate Christmas party and the end-of-summer “Crayfish Fest”. These events are all there in the social calendar, under the pretenses of helping everyone create and justify socially legit opportunities to ingest inordinate amounts of alcohol.

“Hey Dude! It’s a tradition, come on man, have a drink!”

According to WHO, in 2016, on average, Swedish men consumed the equivalent of 17.4 liters of pure alcohol. Comparatively, women are lightweights and drank “only” 6.1 liters of pure alcohol. Oddly, when I look at those numbers, it doesn’t really seem like all that much. Then again, it’s a naked, unnuanced statistic. A number that hardly describes my experiences where the amount is probably ten times higher.

Jokingly, I often refer to Sweden as being located on the fringe of a virtual “Vodka Belt”. We’re not exactly as excited about liquor as, say, the Finns are. And Swedes have not nearly the enormous capacity (or appetite) as vodka guzzling Russians, Polacks, and various folks in the Baltic nations. Statistically, Swedes are more famous for their coffee obsession than for alcohol abuse.

I don’t know if I’ve ever consumed as much alcohol since the pandemic was officially declared, back in March. I feel pretty sure a lot of folks can say the same thing. I probably did drink more during the first couple of seasons bartending in Lapland, at the hotel in Riksgränsen. While I don’t feel a need to redact this (alcohol-fueled) part of my life, it was a much younger me from more than a quarter of a century ago.

Honestly, there hasn’t been that many times in my adult life when I could say that I haven’t had anything to drink in two weeks, with the exception of when I’ve been on a Qigong or Yoga course. The thing is, I don’t want to quit. Stubbornly, I still think I can learn how to not be so consistently seduced by the allure of going so far beyond the initial, hypnotic “release”.

Anyway, I’ll be sure to stay sober until the election. If Trump wins, it’s all going to hell anyway. So why not just give in to a major release then? 🙄