Birthdays, Life, and Change

Birthdays are completely normal time to look back at your life, see where your are, where you have been, and, sometimes, to better think of where you want to go. My birthday was last week, and it definitely gave me pause to think about how far I’ve come, and potentially how little time I have left in the grand scheme of things. My wife, K, and alcohol were definitely part of that pause.
My birthday, in an of itself, was uneventful. I did get to go to the movies with my wife. Not groundbreaking, but considering the last movie we saw together in the theater was The DaVinci Code, it was notable. No big fanfare to the day, no party, no presents, a few texts and phone calls wishing me a happy birthday. And that was fine with me. Not FINE in the passive-aggressive, I’m going to remember this in six months when we get into an argument kind of way. Just fine. I mean, I’m 37. (In a row?!?) It’s not divisible by 5. It doesn’t mark a turning point in my life. There are no Hallmark cards marking 37 as a “thing.” So, yes, I was (and am) fine with it.
As I look back at my life so far, the one question that I could definitely see my younger self asking my present self (should George Carlin come back in a phone booth to my driveway) is: “You’re doing WHAT?!?” This could apply to may different aspects of my life: work, family, “hobbies.” I could pick any one and drone on for a while about any. . . which I will likely do later. Don’t think you’ve gotten off that easily. . . but I am struck by just the idea of constant change.
Sitting here today, I don’t know that any of us could believe that things would be drastically different than they are right now. We grow older, maybe get some new stuff, American Idol picks a new flash in the pan, but I suppose we all feel like life will be just the same as it is today with minor modifications. I have come to realize that’s not the case. Things can change. But, more precisely, we can change things. We can change ourselves.
This was most clearly brought to my attention by my wife, K. As a bit of background on her, she is a remarkable woman. Beautiful, funny, capable, loving, determined, and more than a bit OCD. Yet the one things that she excels at is selling herself short. In most all of the attributes listed above, she’ll sell herself short on most all of them. . .except the OCD. She’ll cop to that one. But the area in which she has impressed me the most recently is in her ability to change, and her willpower to change.
K and I started dating over a decade ago. And since then, alcohol has been a constant for both of us. Our jobs at the time were stressful, and we used booze as a means to lessen (or at least temporarily deaden) that stress. We grew, over time, to be dependent on it, whether we wanted to it admit or not. She plateaued at a bottle of Merlot a night, while my poison was Jack Daniel’s at a handle a week pace. We would give it up for Lent, and swear off of the sauce on more than one Monday morning, but we always came back to it. It was out “fwuffy bwankie” (or fluffy blankie), as my son would say. It made us feel better, it wasn’t “necessary,” but we were sure the hell happier with it.
So, this year, we once again gave it up for Lent. And during that time, K swore off of it. Done. Case closed. Now, there were no meetings, no interventions, none of that. Just a decision. And for over six months now, she’s not had a drop. She made up her mind and it was done. Game over.
There have been “normal” times since then when drinking would be considered part of life: parties, visits, vacations, special occasions, etc. She just decided she was done. And I am thoroughly impressed by this. The woman that I love, and the mother of my children is amazing, and, to me, a testament that change can happen.
I have made some changes as well, but those are stories for another time. For me, in the back of my head, it will always come down to, “Well, if K can walk away from the wine, how hard can this thing be that I want to try?”