Well, I did it. I officially quit booze and cigarettes – cold turkey – for thirty days. It was difficult, though not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I definitely had moments where I wanted to cave, particularly when life got rough.
But, even though I’ve been feeling everything these days, my emotions didn’t overwhelm me like I thought they would. When left alone with thoughts too intense to handle, I was forced to get creative. Rather than my traditional cop out – pouring a glass of wine – I went for a run, or staged an impromptu dance party in my living room, or made a collage out of old photos, or – on one really tough day – dressed up as Batgirl and went out with Wonder Woman (thank you, Elisa) to dinner and a show on a Friday night in the heart of Los Angeles. I wouldn’t trade the interactions I had with curious strangers that night for anything.
Over the last thirty days, what I missed the most was the camaraderie that goes along with drinking, the social aspect of smoking. There was the collective tequila shot with acting class friends on a day when a tequila shot was a really, really good idea. There was the wine and gossip with girlfriends. And there was the late night philosophy that occurs while bumming a cigarette from a friend (or sitting on my patio, contemplating my future, blowing smoke into the darkness.)
But here’s what I didn’t miss. I didn’t miss worrying if I’d be OK to drive after a night out with friends. I didn’t miss starting my weekend already hung over from Friday night. And I certainly didn’t miss the bar tab. Thanks to the money I saved from abstaining from my vices for a mere thirty days, I was able to treat myself to a luxurious facial, a massage, a new dress for a friend’s wedding, and a whole bunch of new music on iTunes. Not bad.
I set lofty goals for myself to accomplish during my thirty days, which I’m sad to say, I fell short of. Most notably, I didn’t finish the first draft of my screenplay, like I had wanted. The prior-to-thirty-days-me would have beaten myself up about that, but I’m not going to. Because here’s the truth: the goal that I set in theory turned out to be way bigger than I anticipated when I put it into practice. I put in countless hours of writing – including two weekends where I essentially didn’t leave the house – and I ended up totally reworking my outline, scrapping a lot of what wasn’t working, and writing fifty new pages. As a result of my work, I’m way more excited about and committed to the story than I’ve ever been, and – while I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be – I know I’ll finish it soon because I can’t stop thinking about the characters and I can’t wait to see them achieve their (sort of) happy ending.
In the end, the most important reason for me to take this thirty-day break was to prove to myself that I could. To prove that I could navigate through a difficult time in my life in a healthy way and stick with it, despite an abundance of temptation. All the great things that came along with my detox – the money saved, the glowing, hydrated skin, the formerly tight clothes that are now loose-fitting – are just the fringe benefits of setting a goal for myself and accomplishing it. So, hooray. And now I ask myself the inevitable question that I always ask at the culmination of any project, endeavor, or challenge: what now?
Well, for right now, today, this weekend – I’m going to let my hair down. After thirty days of behaving like a schoolteacher, I’m going to have some fun. I’m going to enjoy quality time with some of my besties, I’m going to rejoice at the celebration of a dear friend’s wedding, and I’m going to get dolled up and go OUT.
And in a week, my much-anticipated summer vacation to the Pacific Northwest will finally be here. Ten days of relaxing, swimming in the sound, enjoying family time and doing what The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron calls “filling the well” – renewing my spirit with fresh life experiences, so that when I return I’ll hit the ground running and tackle the next project (whatever that may be) with gusto.
In the meantime, who’s up for some shots?
Until next time, friends.