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Day 1 – Come As You Are Not

Welcome to Dryuary 2017!  We are going to spend this month together, our little band, on a journey many of us never expected to take- To spend all of January without drinking alcohol. Dryuary asks everyone to make the decision to invest in themselves as a healthier, more productive person. During this month, our daily posts can provide both encouragement and context for the experience we will be sharing. There will be a lot to read. Your comments are also valuable, and can help others – We invite you to use our anonymous Comment system to add remarks to each post, or to use the “Secret Name” Janet to register and post at the Dryuary Forum. It’s going to be a ride – and we are glad you are along with us.


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My friend Cristian always throws a terrific New Year’s Eve party at his home in New Jersey with the theme “Come As You Are NOT.”  Come As You Are NOT is open to wide interpretation.  One year, a guy came as a magician because he was a terrible juggler. Arthur always came as some variation of Morpheus… he is tall, handsome, amazingly cool dude who likes trench coats, so it wasn’t quite “NOT”, but we let him get away with it. After attending 10 or so consecutive Come As You Are NOTs repurposing various halloween costumes and ideas ranging from Pregnant! Not! to Tall! Not!, one year I simply wore blue contact lenses.  I’m not blue eyed.

On December 31, 2001, I was with my closest friends at Cristian’s.  It had been a tough year.  Cristian was on an airplane flying to California when the planes hit the towers on September 11.  He was on JetBlue, so all the passengers on his plane were watching the headrest screens of live news coverage.  It was terrifying.  Friends knew people who were killed in New York.  Others had lost jobs.  One person had lost a parent to cancer.  But we all Came As We Were NOT – carefree and ready to celebrate friendship and ring in the new year.

Cristian greeted us with a “2001” poster board, strips of paper, and markers.  On the poster board, he asked us to write about things we hated, things we wanted to let go of, things that had hurt us.  And on the strips of paper, he asked us to write the same, but also to memorialize those things that were more personal, remembrances we did not want to share about 2001, but that we wanted to trash.

At midnight, we burned them.  We burned the poster board of hateful and awful things from the previous year.  We burned all the individual, personal strips of paper writ with terrible things.  And we cried and laughed and hugged and felt a little bit renewed for 2002.

2016 has been a difficult year for me and, I’m sure, for some others.  And for some of us, it has been a joyful, blessed year.  But for all of us, I’d wager, there are likely things we don’t want to repeat in 2017.  And there are 2016 events we might want to destroy in a positive, cathartic fashion.

So on this first day of 2017, I encourage you to reply with how, in 2017, you are going to Come As You Were Not in 2016.  I’m NOT going to put off meditating to the end of the day.  I’m NOT going to drink as often as I did in 2016.

Second, I encourage you to reply with those things you’d like to burn on **Micro’s Imaginary Strikingly Gigantic But Completely Safe Bonfire**. I’m burning the ill feelings I have toward people who don’t think like I do.  I’m burning the health scares in my immediate family.

And for those personal things you want to burn but not share aloud, write each of them on an imaginary strip of paper.  Squeeze those imaginary papers into little balls in your hand, and silently throw them on our Bonfire.

Stand back with me, friends, and let’s watch our Imaginary Strikingly Gigantic But Completely Safe Bonfire BLAZE.

Here’s to everyone’s better 2017!

Written and submitted by Moderation Management Member Micro

 

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Day 2 – Time to Steer

Many of you are just curious what health and other benefits you might see from taking a month-long break from alcohol. Good for you! Many of us are surprised at the subtle and not-so-subtle changes. Donna will talk more about those tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bruce has a message for those of us who may have binged on New Year’s Eve:

How many times have you woken up with a hangover? If you’re like me, you’ve had more than your share of such mornings over the years. And if you’re like me, on most of those mornings you were probably more than a little bit mad and irritated and frustrated with yourself for putting yourself in such a miserable state of being. As if there were two of you: the night-you who is a self-indulgent pleasure seeker, consequences be damned, and the poor suffering morning-you who just wants to wake up feeling good and productive for once if that isn’t too much to ask, thank you. If you’re like me, on many of those mornings you engaged in an imaginary conversation with the you who was responsible for the hangovers, trying to talk some sense so that the cycle of indulgence followed by regret might be broken. It’s been said many times on this forum: in the morning you never regret the drinks you didn’t have the night before. Unfortunately, when you really need to hear those words, the morning-you has turned into the night-you, like Jekyll into Hyde, and the cycle continues.

Now that you’re taking a break from alcohol, you’re finally giving the morning-you the voice and position of power it deserves. Reflect on that each morning as you get ready for the day: how happy morning-you is to finally be in the driver’s seat, how proud it is of night-you for giving it this long overdue break, and a chance to prove it was right all along. You ARE better, not just in the morning but the whole day: when you get off to a good start, all of you benefits all day long. The more you give morning-you a voice, the stronger it becomes, less hesitant, less shell-shocked. As that voice gets stronger, maybe it will finally be able to stand up to the irrational demands night-you may make when you return to drinking, be less likely to submissively give in.

Are you still afraid that you might revert to your old habits at the end of this month, or maybe even tonight, that the night-you might take control again? Here’s an idea: most of us have a video camera on our person at all times (i.e., a smart phone) so why don’t you go ahead and let morning-you really talk to that other you? Make a short recording of yourself telling the other you how good you feel, how proud you are of yourself for not drinking the night before, how you had the power to do it. Imagine the kinds of objections you might have when you are thinking of drinking, and talk yourself out of it. You know best the kinds of arguments that work best on you. And if or when you feel that voice getting weak, pull out that recording and listen to yourself. Take this opportunity to truly give voice to the thoughts and feelings that are your own. You really do know what’s best and it’s about time that voice was heard.

This post was contributed by MM Forum’s Bruce

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Day 3 – Get a Baseline

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives” Viktor E. Frank

You don’t need to have an alcohol use disorder (http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders) to benefit from a break from alcohol. You may notice subtle health issues you never connected to alcohol.  Get a baseline today, so you can compare later this month, to see what alcohol is or isn’t doing to/for you:

Brain: Are you anxious, irritable, too perky, sad, hopeless, distractible, restless, grandiose, impulsive, depressed, easily defeated, low energy (trash won’t take itself out)?

Sleep: Do you need alcohol to get to sleep?  Do you wake in the middle of the night?  If you use something like a FitBit, do you notice a difference in how you sleep when you drink?

Physical:  How does your stomach feel?  Any irritation in upper or lower tummy (e.g., heartburn)?  Gas or bloating? Allergies?

Vanity:  Are there dark circles or bags under your eyes?  How does your skin look (color, dryness, tone)?

Interpersonal:  How are you getting along with your loved ones?  Are you less patient the day after you drink?  Do you over-react? Less predictable?

Hang in there and see what happens later this month in these areas.

If something pushes your buttons, and you find yourself really wanting a drink, try “urge surfing.”  Harm-reduction pioneer G Alan Marlatt noted that urges for substance-use rarely last longer than 30 minutes. If you can “surf” the urge – observe it without acting – you can usually ride it out.  Try it:  When you notice an urge to drink come up, don’t slap it down.  Watch it.  Mentally pick it up and turn it around, looking at it.  Listen to what the urge tells you, without acting on it.  See how you feel one hour from now.  Did the urge subside like a wave?  Was the need to act on it as urgent as it seemed to be at the peak of it?

Hang in there.  This month is an experiment, to see if taking a break from alcohol helps you achieve some of your goals.  Many people find it to be a very worthwhile investment.

This post was submitted by MM Forum’s Donna

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Day 4 – Getting Through 31 Days Without Drinking

Here is how Melinda got through her 31 day break from drinking:

First things first. Sounds corny, but it made all the difference in my 31 days. I did it because “I said I would”. Yeah, I’ve made those promises to myself in the past, but always gave in to the “negotiator”. More on that later. But for now, I want to thank Dee for inviting me, and also for letting me know that I would not derail her efforts if I failed. That gave me the courage to try, and because I’m a person of my word, and I made a commitment to Dee, I followed through. Simple as that. Was it easy – hell no. It sucked at the beginning. But, I had company, and I wanted to succeed. For once I wasn’t scared of success. THANK YOU Dee, and to everyone here who joined us or cheered us on.

Some strategies I employed, in no particular order:

I got up early, 3 hours before I had to start work. During this time:

  • I logged into The Forum.
  • I journaled in a brand new journal I purchased specifically for my 31 days.
  • I tried the “Calm” App for meditation.
  • I increased my morning walking time from 20 minutes to 40+ minutes.
  • I started the “Ripped” DVD – doing it 3x a week with light weights.

I urge surfed:

  • I colored in my adult coloring book.I pulled out my beading supplies and re-learned how to do things. I made a bracelet (next up a tracking bracelet – more on that later).
  • I bought a SODUKU book and actually used it.
  • I swam in my pool (note – I swam – not floated. No arms to hold a drink while swimming vs. floating).
  • I went for a walk around the block after work (I work at home)
  • I went for a walk around the block after dinner
  • I did NOT join my husband at the neighborhood bar after work.That sucked, but I’m over it now.
  • I researched new dinner recipes.
  • I named that little gremlin, you know that negotiator that says “just one won’t hurt”. Her name – and she’s not worthy of a real name, but I call her the “puffy bitch”. You know, the one with the fat face, the bloodshot eyes, the red nose, the gray skin. What a bitch. She’s sneaky. I don’t like her. She’s mean. She steals my memory. She steals my kindness, my patience, my appreciation for life and loved ones. Like I said, she’s a bitch. Have I told you how I really feel about her?

I replaced my drinks:

  • N/A beers in the home fridge, and while out at restaurants/bars. Yes, I’m a beer snob, and they suck, but it makes it easy to stick to one then switch – by then the uncomfortable feelings have passed.
  • I discovered Komuchu Ginger-ade. It has a kick. I put it in a wine glass with sparkling soda, or in a frosty beer mug straight up. Wish they had this at bars.
  • Insider tip – Invest in K-Cups. I used to drink 2 cups a day. Now, I’ve stopped counting. I guess that’s my next challenge to cut down.
  • I drink more water. Loaded the “Daily Water” app. Makes a gulping sound when you click on the glass. Corny, but it makes me want to get my waters in.
  • I found a great seafood bar that serves N/A wine. “Fre”. It also sucks, but it’s the whole ambiance of wine with food. It works. Easy to only have one.
  • I have made a list of over a dozen things I want to try – now that I don’t have to plan around – I can’t do that/drive there – it will interfere with my drinking.

This post was contributed by MM Forum’s Melinda

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Day 5 – Bring Out The Power Tools


Inspirational Song of the Day:
Atmosphere – Pour Me Another

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways–either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”
 – The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso

Some people don’t have any problem staying away from alcohol. For them, it’s simply a choice. I am not built that way; it does not seem to be my nature- I like to drink, and no amount of convincing has persuaded me otherwise.

But- I simply have to get my habits under control. I have responsibilities. My family is dependant on me; we have property to protect. Practically speaking, I simply don’t have time to drink like I used to. I have to change, although I don’t want to. When the going gets tough, I bring out some painfully learned Truths and get to work.

Manage Your Perspective

  • So much of what goes on with social drinking involves perceptions and expectations. Although your environment may not change, you can adjust your own reactions and respond better. It’s not natural, but the result is an appropriate response that maintains the goals you set for yourself.
  • Do people know you are not drinking? Do they care? First of all, it is none of their business. Secondly, for the most part people don’t care, and if they do that is their problem not yours. Last, if you are holding a seltzer and lime (put some bitters in it!), a Virgin Mary, or an NA beer you look exactly the same as all the other people drinking around you.
  • Is alcohol really that important? Are you bored or unsatisfied without it? Maybe this is simply a situation you do not have to be in right now.
  • Life is long, and humans can change. At different times in our lives we are different people. Give yourself a break, and accept the time and space you need to change.
  • Made a mistake? We are not machines. Learn from the experience, and try to do better the next time. You only fail when you stop trying.

Tricks and Tips

  • I like to think about the experience I am planning with people who are drinking beforehand. I try to make plans about what I might drink, who I may see, what conversations we could have. Social events are so much smoother if I go in with a plan and a set of expectations for myself.
  • Figure out what non-alcoholic (NA) beverages are available. Sometimes you can be surprised- Daiquiri mix, for example, can be tasty. I like very hot V8 juice with lots of tabasco. In a pinch, water (with a twist of lemon?) works just fine. And if you are in doubt, bring something- but expect the Sparkling Cider to disappear right away.
  • Decide ahead of time how the evening will end. All things will end, but it really helps to plan ahead for when you must go.

Win and have a Great Tomorrow
Victories don’t have to be huge.
Sometimes the important successes can appear at first to be small. Celebrate your victories!

A pleasant evening out and a good night’s sleep.
Remembering everything and everyone you met.
Leaving without controversy and with a clear head.
Being safe, and respecting loved ones and friends.

This post was contributed by Kurt S.

 

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Day 6 – Rckaye’s Manifesto On Day 31

As you close in on your first week without alcohol, you might appreciate fast-forwarding a few weeks in the eyes of someone who has been there. Here is Rckaye’s manifesto:

It’s 1:52am and I just got home from the karaoke bar. Unless a maraschino cherry saturated with watered-down tom collins counts as drinking, I successfully completed my 31 days. This entire time, I’ve been thinking about how I will document this moment, how I will feel as I type this. Someone in our phone meetings even addresses it as “that magical moment” when there has been no alcohol in your system for 31 days and a switch in your brain flips.

There’s no actual switch, but there’s definitely a gradual progression. For starters, everything I thought I knew about myself was wrong. There’s something to be said for looking at oneself objectively, which is near impossible until one’s situation changes enough to where they can look back on their past self with new eyes. I was a mess. I’ve been a mess for a long time. Drinking was only covering up the mess with a think security blanket, hoping nobody will see the lumps that remain.

Full disclaimer: My doctor upped my meds last week, so that could have contributed to these new eyes. Also, as recommended, I’ve spent the past 31 days developing new healthy habits that promote mindfulness and mental stability. I already exercised and did yoga (7 minute yoga app, you’re welcome), and for the most part I ate fairly well. I am incredibly privileged in that I do not have a significant other, children, or family to stress me out. My job isn’t that bad either. My problem drinking was (is) purely social, to alleviate the anxiety of talking to people and holding a conversation.

I am not a good verbal communicator. I missed that day when they were handing out social skills. It’s not awkward introversion, which can be endearing; it’s downright uncomfortable. I never know when it’s okay to speak, so I interrupt or wait so long that I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say or the topic has changed. I’ve participated in small talk for so long at work that it’s an automatic script, but it usually goes beyond that with friends. I have strong opinions about today’s social climate that most people don’t want to hear. I make cynical, sarcastic jokes that people don’t think are funny. And, unless someone else happens to be into discussing gender, sexuality, or the handful of media I don’t find problematic, I don’t have anything in common with anyone.

When I would drink, I became more superficial. I could care about whatever someone wanted to talk about. I was open with my feelings, even though I didn’t understand them. (I still don’t. I wasn’t there the day they handed out the emotion manual either.) I built amazing relationships and even dated for a while. I grew to dislike the person I was when I was sober. I pretty much disassociated the two, where “sober me” would look forward to “drunk me” coming out after work or on the weekends. When I started my medication, I had some bad experiences adjusting to my lower tolerance, but a few months ago I’d gotten it worked out.

Then I crashed my car. Then I slept with my ex-datefriend, for whom I still have feelings (that I don’t understand). Both of those things happened the same night, actually. I was following them home from the karaoke bar, going a different way than I usually took, and I misjudged a turn and wiped out most of the front right side of my car on some tree roots that had grown on the side of the road. The total damage was $5240; the deductible was $500. I still have the invoice on my refrigerator to remind me of this lapse in judgment. I was incredibly lucky that I didn’t get hurt, or that I didn’t hurt anyone else or damage someone’s property.

I started my 31 days on august 11th. My last alcoholic drink was a pomegranate wine slushie at the local winery the evening before. Since then, there were only a few times I actively wanted to drink, and they were all within the first week when it was still a go-to compulsion to cope with my feelings. Getting drunk didn’t make me feel better anymore, and when I look back on the past couple years of my life, it never really did. Sure, a drink can be relaxing, a nice vacation from the real world, but it’s not going to make the feelings go away. It won’t make someone love me. It won’t help me learn how to express myself effectively and not give a f**k what anyone thinks. It may have made me a fun-loving, more tolerating person, but the next morning I woke up the same old me, now with a new and improved headache.

For the past four weeks, I have been working on building back up my confidence (which I used to have in spades, let me tell you) and reprogramming my brain to look at things differently. I read cognitive behavioral therapy for dummies, am making my way through responsible drinking, and i’m almost done with the magical life-changing art of not giving a f**k. The higher SSRI dosage suppresses my indignant rage, which I would peg as the main cause of my frustration with friends and coworkers. When I don’t care about being disrespected or having my self-worth threatened by others, life is pretty damn pleasant.

I’m far from done. Tomorrow, I start moderating, and I have mixed feelings about it. It seems pointless to only drink 2 beers, which is the limit I have given myself based on my tolerance. Not to mention, I live in a state where the government regulates alcohol sales and anything less than a 12 pack isn’t economical. Logically, it makes more sense (and saves money) to not drink at all. I may end up going permanent abs, but I want to at least try moderation. There are alcoholic drinks I genuinely enjoy for the taste, and I still want that relaxation and real-world vacation a couple times a week. With everything going on lately, it’s almost unhealthy not to have that occasional freedom from stress, to forget about the horrors and injustices for a while. I just need to learn to not go overboard. I need to be okay with only having 2 drinks, and I don’t know that i’ll ever get there.

It is now 2:49am and I need to get to bed if I want to be up early to walk before class. If you read all of this, thank you! I read other people’s posts too, though I don’t always know what to say. We all may be fighting different demons, but the battle is the same. Having more people on your side makes the demons seem much smaller.

This post was contributed by MM Forum’s Rckaye

Note: The original post has been adapted to fit Dryuary’s specifications and/or for easier readability
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Day 7 – Fly


Inspirational Song of the Day: R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Welcome to Day 7!

Can I ask you a few questions?

Why are you here?

Do you feel like you need to be here?

Or, do you want to be here?

Either reason is a good one, but, as two different points from which we can start this month, they have a huge influence over where we arrive at the end of this month. More importantly, it makes a huge difference in the journey.

Are you here to escape the pain drinking can bring, but can’t think of any place to run to? Has drinking become your only refuge?

Or, are you here to discover other places of refuge? Some place other than a bottle in which to immerse yourself?

For most of us, this month will not be easy. And, yes, there will be times, in the first few days, when we think we’re not getting anywhere. We might stumble. That’s okay. As babies learning to walk, we stumbled lots, but we got right back up, didn’t we? You might fall. That’s okay, too. As a kid learning to ride a bike, I bet you fell, didn’t you? Of course you did. I’ll also bet you finally learned how to ride a bike, right? Because you didn’t give up. No matter how many skinned knees or how much road rash you suffered. Because you wanted to learn so bad. Because the reward was worth every bit of the pain.

It is our nature to persevere, then, triumph.  Drinking can too often persuade us to stay in the stumbling stage and on the ground when our hearts keep saying, “Fly!”

We could use this month to just concentrate on not stumbling and falling. By not drinking, we will avoid the hangovers, the fights with our spouse or significant other, the invariable tiredness that dogs our days, the irksome guilt trips, the bewildering feelings of shame that persist no matter how many times we tell ourselves we’re no worse than the next guy-no matter how many times the next guy tells us we’re not that bad, to quit making a big deal of our drinking…All that in itself could be reward enough. We could even hope by just accomplishing damage control, permanent change will come.  Our bodies and mind might heal enough. As might our relationships. We might even enter February with firm intentions to drink less.

But, why? Just to keep from falling again?

Is that all we want? To just walk through life? Not fall down too much?

Or, do we want more?

 Do we want to use this month to go in search of something to keep us sober on Friday night because we can’t wait for Saturday mornings all year long? Do we want to rediscover what it’s like to laugh so hard we beg for mercy-without being drunk? Do we want to see what joys the evening can bring without all the joy being sucked out of us the next morning?

So, back to that question, are you here because you need to be?

Or, are you here to learn to fly?

Submitted by Kary May

Author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook To Happily Drinking Less Or Not Drinking At All-Quite Happily: With the help of the online support community

 

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Day 8 And The Noble Eightfold Path


Inspirational Song of the Day: Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten

This song is reminding you that you’re not a completed book, you’re still the metaphorical author writing your own life. Right now you might be in a pretty crappy chapter, but you might get to the good part soon. A change of your mood can help change the path of your story. This song reminds you to live life to the fullest and that your life is still up to you to guide it where you want it to go. There’s no need to give up when you can simply just rewrite your story, right?

“The tool the Buddhaholds out to free the mind from desire is understanding. Real renunciation is not a matter of compelling ourselves to give up things still inwardly cherished, but of changing our perspective on them so that they no longer bind us. When we understand the nature of desire, when we investigate it closely with keen attention, desire falls away by itself, without need for struggle.”

Bhikkhu Bodh

We all need inspiration, it’s like the wood in the campfire, the water in the lake that reflects the mountain, or the smell of the pies cooking in the kitchen. Inspiration is not the pie or the mountain or the fire, inspiration is the catalyst that bakes the pie and reflects the mountain and fuels the beautiful flames. To learn to drink moderately we need lots of inspiration. Nature provides me with inspiration. Find what gives you fuel, what pushes you to seek out your healing process, what prompts a new chapter in your book of life.

Buddhism holds that our suffering is mainly due to desire, to a craving thirst for satisfying the senses. On day eight of Dryuary let’s take a look at a guide to living in a way that can alleviate the suffering that human nature seems to bring on: the noble eightfold path:

  • right view
  • right resolve
  • right speech
  • right conduct
  • right livelihood
  • right effort
  • right mindfulness
  • and right “samadhi” (meditative absorption or union)

Take a moment to reflect on or write in a journal what each one of these could mean for you. What is the view that led you here to being in Dryuary? For me, Dryuary 2014, it was survival, I felt like I was jeopardizing not only my health but also my life. What kind of resolve is required for you to stay on the path for the whole month? What tools do you have ready to use if an urge comes up? Can you drink a glass of water and go for a walk to “talk yourself down” if an urge surfaces? Does right speech mean posting every day because that is the kind of communication that will keep you on course? Does it mean reading from Responsible Drinking and journaling for 15 minutes before bedtime and rereading each entry as the month progresses? Right conduct: well that one is simple: no drinking. period. But does it also mean not going to parties if they are usually where you would have difficulty saying no to a drink? Look at each one of these eight and find your personal definition of them as they relate to your dry month. Use them to give you the inspiration you need to stay true to your word. One week into the month of no drinking can be a slippery spot on the path. Keep you personal eightfold path notes handy in your wallet or purse in times of low resolve. And don’t forget SAMADHI as a tool, close your eyes and breathe, feel one with all of your Dryuary friends, feel calm and feel sure that you CAN abstain for 31 days.

You deserve it!

This post was contributed by Roberta

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Day 9 – Your Mileage May Vary

A phrase you’ll hear used a lot at Moderation Management is Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). Its frequency of use is indicative of the approach that although there are many great resources and a wealth of shared information, everyone is encouraged to find their own path to a healthy solution which works for them. There are guidelines, sure, but for many people the absence of a proscriptive set of rules is one of the strengths of the program. One is less likely to rebel against boundaries that one sets for oneself.

The flip-side of YMMV is the acknowledgement that there are no easy answers and that the experiences of others, although instructive, won’t always produce the same results for us. There may be times during a period of abstinence, for example, where we find ourselves reading what seems like reams of positive feedback from others and wondering “Where’s my pink fluffy cloud? Why don’t I suddenly have boundless energy?” For some people the experience of a period of abstinence can indeed be that revelatory but for others the changes may be a lot more subtle, at least at first. Maybe you might notice that your skin is starting to look healthier or you might become aware of feeling more present in the evening when spending time with your loved ones.

For me, as someone who came to resent the time I was wasting when frequently drinking too much, one of the short-term positives I take from days or extended periods of abstinence is the enjoyment of simple activities which are once again available to me now I no longer feel the compulsion to keep my drinking options open at all times. For example, I like to arrange events with my drinking friends which were previously ruled out because they require a designated driver. This plan has the additional advantage that rather than my not drinking being seen as a social obstacle it instead becomes a social enabler and I get to come out of the evening as a bit of a hero to boot!

The health and wellbeing benefits of moderation and periods of abstinence have become apparent to me in the medium term but sometimes it’s good to just put the bigger picture to one side and to appreciate some small benefit that abstaining on that day has brought to me. I encourage you to look for those aspects of personal, positive feedback that make a difference to you and to nurture them whatever they may be. Your Mileage May Vary.

Nils

PS: Your Moderation May Vary too but that’s a subject for another day.

This post was contributed by the Forum’s Nils

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Day 10 – It IS The Wine Talking


Inspirational Song of the Day: “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!” – Happiness

While on vacation last summer, I saw this plaque – “This May Be The Wine Talking, But I Love Wine.”  Laughed out loud, thought it was funny.  And then I realized it fell squarely into those drinking slogans that I used to love but now irk me.  Pithy little drinking witticisms can be funny, but they also contain dangerous messages that normalize drinking excessively.  Let’s break a few down.

“This May Be The Wine Talking, But I Love Wine”
IT IS THE WINE TALKING!!

“Trust me.  You can Dance.”  – Vodka
Dear Vodka, I saw the video. We need to talk.

“Wine Improves With Age, I Improve With Wine”
No, but my slurring and anger mismanagement does.

“You can do it!” – Tequila
I probably shouldn’t be doing things tequila is telling me to do.  Tequila does not have my best interests in mind.  Tequila’s ideas often end with calls for lawyers, guns, and money.

“Someone told me you can make ice cubes out of leftover wine.  I am confused.  What is leftover wine?”
Not only am I not Martha Stewart, I cannot control my drinking.

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy beer and it’s sort of the same thing.”
Nope.  Beer can be an enjoyable beverage, but it ain’t happiness.  Also, I don’t think it shows up in the above song.

“Beer.  Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
If so, whither the hangovers?

“Drinking rum before 10 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.”
Cool! But my lack of boat suggests otherwise.

I recognize also that it is important to have a sense of humor.  Humor is one of my favorite ways of communicating.  But because I’m trying to avoid drinking excessively, for now, my kitchen bulletin board says:

“You can do it!” – Coffee

Any others folks want to share?

Submitted by MM Member Micro

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Day 11 – The Story Of Diego And Juice Time


Inspirational Song of the Day: Sara Bareilles – Brave

“Create your own miracles; do what you think you cannot do.”
– Roy T. Bennett

When my now 22 year old daughter was in nursery school the children were summoned to the table every day by one of the teachers calling out, “Wash hands for Juice Time! Wash hands for Juice Time!” All of the kids ran happily to the washbasin and sat expectantly for Juice Time. All of them except for Diego. Every single day Diego had to be prodded and cajoled in to the classroom for Juice Time. He would sit in the sand box or hide behind a tree or pedal away on a tricycle until a teacher would finally corral him into the classroom.

One day he complained, “But I don’t like Juice Time!” And the teacher matter of factly responded, “Oh, that’s okay. You don’t have to like Juice Time; you just have to come.” And that was it.  From that day on Diego always came when he was called for Juice Time because he understood that he didn’t have to like it, he just had to do it.

You know where this is heading, don’t you? “Wash hands for Dryuary! Wash hands for Dryuary!” You don’t have to like Dryuary; you just have to do it.

Here’s the thing. When Diego understood that he wasn’t expected to like Juice Time, he eventually settled in and actually came to enjoy certain parts of it (the juice being one of the parts he liked). He didn’t enjoy coming in from outdoors, he didn’t enjoy sitting still, but he did manage to settle himself in enough that he learned a few things. He learned how to pour the juice for himself and others, how to pass the plate of crackers and take only one, how to sit still for those fifteen minutes. I don’t think Diego ever loved Juice Time, but he did gain some new skills and a different perspective.

While these skills may seem unimportant in the great scheme of life, in fact, they are vital building blocks to a healthy social life.  Learning how to use which muscles in the arms and hands to lift, hold, balance and pour a liquid without spilling is a really useful skill. Mastering the coordination to hold a plate with one hand and take a cracker with the other hand, all while reining in the desire to take more than one’s share is huge. Sitting still, breathing in and out, controlling the impulse to jump up and run outside before the end of Juice Time, that is the first seed of maturity.

As children we learn by doing.  We come pre-wired with the drive to learn to roll over, crawl, walk, run, babble and talk. No one tells us how, we just keep stumbling, tripping, and falling until we get it right. As we mature we begin to realize that there are a whole slew of things we aren’t necessarily dying to learn, but we gather pretty quickly that if we want to get anywhere in life, we better knuckle under and get to work.

And that’s where Dryuary comes in. We may not be thrilled to be here; we may arrive whining and stomping. But here we are at the table ready to learn. Saying No-Thank-You to that glorious glass of red that would be just perfect with dinner is not easy. Sitting still, breathing through the most maddening conversation ever in the history of the world is almost (Almost!) impossible. Watching all our friends yuck it up on that second martini while we sip bubbly water feels miserable.

But you know what? We can do it. We absolutely can do it. We can develop those abstaining muscles; we can figure out new and inventive ways to say no; we can live through the worst of times. Dryuary gives us the opportunity to learn all these new skills that might seem trivial at the time, but when added up and incorporated into our daily lives, can propel us into a life that we get to choose, because we have done the work.

Diego didn’t like Juice Time, but he settled in and learned all kinds of cool new things.
Be like Diego.

This post was contributed by Horselover

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Day 12 – Your Inner Negotiator

“Be mindful of your self-talk. It is a conversation with the universe. You are a being, full of infinite possibilities! Focus your mind with positivity and you will have dictated the direction of your journey, your soul and your being, cascading in infinite abundance.”
– Angie Karan

You have many people supporting you during January, especially your Dryuary colleagues. But, there’s something evil out there that will never be on your side. It’s your Inner Negotiator (IN). Your IN sits in waiting, ready to pounce every time you make a step forward. He/she will say things to you like “you’ve made it a week, you’ve shown you can do it, no need to do this.” Or “what a stressful day you’ve had, you can take this one day off and pick up tomorrow.” Or “31 is just a number, you can set your own terms.”

The voice sounds friendly, but your IN is an expert at manipulating you however and whenever possible. How do you counter that evil voice?

1) Acknowledge his/her presence. Everyone has an IN, it’s not restricted to drinking. Your IN will also attempt to sabotage your dieting, workout schedule, future plans, you name it. Accepting that this evil being is there is the first step.

2) Call your IN out. Say “I know you’re there, and whatever you might say, I know you’re not looking out for my best interests.” “I see you, and you’re not fooling me no matter what you say.” Even better, write it out.

3) Counter your IN’s statements with healthy ones. “Yes I could take a day off, but how is that going to benefit me?” “Sure, I had a bad day, but that’s life and you’re not going to use it to your advantage.” “I suppose I could set my own terms during Dryuary, but that’s you doing your thing, not me.”

Your IN is crafty, and will always be there. But we get to choose our own power, not give it away to anyone else.

Submitted by MM Member Jimmer

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Day 13 – It’s A Beautiful World



Inspirational Song of the Day: Colin Hays – What a Beautiful World

In this rather lengthy live version of his song – Colin Hay, ex-lead singer of Men At Work, talks first about how he started drinking too much, why he stopped drinking, and then a couple of silly stories about sharks – then he sings a wonderful song.

One of the later verses is as follows:

“And still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you’ve given up the drink
And those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early, at least with no regrets
I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets
Yes this is as good as it gets”

This verse has some stark but lovely reality in it – yes when you cut down or give up drinking – there are still problems, there can still be an emptiness – it doesn’t solve all of your problems. But you can live your life with fewer regrets – because you’re now experiencing and living your life clean without the haze and cycle of drinking and recovery.

Folks who are reading this at MM are what I like to call “self-identified problem drinkers.” And we’re all trying to get better. Some may find moderation possible and can keep alcohol a “small but enjoyable part of life.” Others like Colin Hay (and me) find it easier just to stop all together. The 31 days of Dryuary gives you a chance to experience with others what your life is like without alcohol. It’s a long enough period there will be times you miss some aspects of it for sure – but also long enough to start seeing some of the benefits in the last two weeks (better sleep, fresher look, better memory, etc.) At the end of the 31 days you might decide to extend it for a while or you might try moderation.

Both are fine options – I did a number of 30s and even a couple of 90s and then tried to moderate. For me after more than three years (I’m very stubborn) I decided that abs was just easier for me to do (it freed up mind space and it was a relief for me not to have to fight it).

Whatever you decide – I hope you appreciate how wonderful and beautiful life can be and what a gift it is that we have. Yes there is often pain, emptiness and heartbreak, but there is also joy, friendship, love and fulfillment. I’m finding my life much better without the fog and complications of overdrinking – and hope you enjoy your 31 January days and find your way to your own “beautiful life and beautiful world.”

Submitted by MM Member Eeyore

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Day 14 – No Regrets


Inspirational Song of the Day: Robbie Williams – No Regrets

“It happened this way: I fell in love and then, because the love was ruining everything I cared about, I had to fall out.”
– Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story

If you are reading this now, you are still in the game, abstaining from alcohol for a brief period of time. I know you are still in the game, because if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.

How many January’s have you lived through thus far? Do you remember everyday of every January? Will you remember this day? Do you remember times when you wish you hadn’t had a drink, but you did anyway, and you were not happy with yourself afterwards? Do you wish that you could go back and change it?

You can. Now.

By changing it now, you are in effect lessening the feelings of regret of the past. You can rewrite your emotional history by doing what you wish you had done, now.

Be nice to yourself. All of the thoughts rolling through your mind are only thoughts. They  come, they go. Do you remember all of the thoughts that you have had every day in every January in the past? I don’t. Chances are you won’t remember the thoughts you are having now, no matter how powerful they are. They will pass.
When the thought of drinking arises, notice it. Say to it “Hi thought of drinking! I’m busy right now.” And invite it to leave. Then do something else.

Your tomorrow-self will thank you for this. Your tomorrow-self will then have its own thoughts. And your tomorrow-self will remind you of your today-self and how you were able to invite unwanted thoughts to leave, successfully.
And how you were able to continue with your commitment to yourself to abstain from alcohol during a tiny sliver of time in your life.
No matter how difficult it may feel in this moment, you have proof that this moment won’t last and you will only remember it if you really want to. You will only remember it if you give it meaning. It will only be a valuable moment to you if you succeed at doing something that you have committed yourself to do.

If you give into random cravings and rantings of the thoughts in your mind now, how will your tomorrow-self feel? It will feel the same way you do now about regrets in the past. You have the ability to rewrite history, now. For now will soon be history.
So rewrite those regrets, now. Rewrite your reality. Give this one tiny day, this small sliver of time, some valuable meaning that takes you into a new tomorrow. A tomorrow with more possibility. A tomorrow with more self-confidence. A tomorrow where you can say, “Yeah, I did that,” and smile instead of cringe.

Be nice to yourself today. Your tomorrow-self will thank you.

Submitted by Pono Marin

 

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Day 15 – There Are People Who You Only See At Funerals


Inspirational Song of the Day: Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World

A few years ago, my mother passed away. She had been addicted to prescription painkillers, also ingested a lot of Tylenol, and at 67, her liver quit. My mother was a gregarious, fun, brilliant, complicated, and well-loved woman, and people from all the decades of her life attended her wake, funeral, and the meal at our home thereafter. I saw people that day who I hadn’t seen in a few years, people who I’d never met, and people who remembered me from my toddler years.

A few days ago, I attended the wake and funeral of a man who was the son of my parents’ best friends. He was addicted to drugs for many years and accidentally overdosed on Thanksgiving. His parents are bereft. I hadn’t seen him since I was a teenager. I see his parents maybe once each year. But more than two years after my mother passed, I saw many of the same “funeral people” – those folks I only see at funerals. People turn out to pay their respects. It’s a lovely aspect of human nature. It’s a terrible way to meet up with people.

At various times in my life, I have been addicted to alcohol. And addiction to alcohol can lead to a litany of problems, and that litany can lead to death in a variety of ways.

I don’t want my family to meet my “funeral people” any sooner than they need to.

Let’s find other reasons to meet those funeral people now. They can be wedding people! Bar mitzvah people! That friend of my parents who I always happen to see at the DMV people! Baptism people! Grocery shopping people!

And so I resolve to battle my addiction to alcohol with every weapon I have. And I resolve that, upon request, I will be a weapon for others battling their addictions. You’re my Dryuary people & MM people; let’s keep each other company for the long haul.

Submitted by MM Member Micro

 

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Day 16 – Be Not Afraid


Inspirational Song of the Day: Kelly Clarkson – Invincible

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
– Yann Martel, ‘Life of Pi’

I drove home for the holidays this year. Home for me is in the wild and woolly badlands of Southwest Kansas. Yeah, all those wheat fields and grain silos can set a cold, dead fear in the souls of lesser men, or women, as the case might be. Just over the Colorado border on a lonely patch of Hwy 50 is an overpass that rises above miles of unbroken flat grassland. As I ascended its heights, I recalled countless other times I’ve crossed it. Hungover. Cold-sweaty hands on the wheel. Heart pounding. Not looking to either side until my vehicle touched down on the other side. Now, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving across my home state, the only state in the continental U.S. in which you can stand on your head and see all the way to the opposing border, you know that we have cow manure piles and prairie dog hills with loftier altitudes than any of our Hwy. overpasses. So, as I drove over this same old bump in the road a couple of weeks ago, my last hangover being somewhere around six years ago, I wondered how it had managed to terrify me so.

There’s actually a physiological explanation for it, all that mindless anxiety that drinking too heavy and too long saddles us with. Something to do with serontonin and a few other neurotransmitters (it’s always those batrastards starting all the trouble.) that get thrown into that chicken and egg cycle when we down a couple of drinks to relax, then, when the relax part starts nodding off and anxiety pushes it off the barstool and takes a seat, we drink some more to relax some more. Rinse and repeat, as we like to say.

Since I broke that cycle six years ago, I’ve found I’m not near the coward I thought I was. I’ve got a whole list of things, I’m no longer afraid of. Here’s just a few:

Overpasses, bridges, police cars, breathalyzers, falling off barstools, 2 a.m., 4 a.m.,  meeting my husband’s eyes in the a.m., brushing my teeth in the a.m., poached eggs-scratch that, they still scare the hell out of me, checking facebook in the a.m., having shaky hands and boozy breath at work in the a.m., not remembering how I got the scabs on my knees, hearing about what I did last night in gleeful detail, not remembering why I got that tattoo, seeing embarrassment in my kids’ eyes, seeing fear in my kids’ eyes, not being invited to my grandkids’ weddings, meeting someone new and having them say, “Don’t you remember? We met at the Hotchkiss’s party last Friday night?” Friday nights, Saturday mornings, any given day in general, how I’ll act at Christmas parties, book club, baptisms, weddings, funerals, play dates, lunch dates, dinner dates, seeing videos of my dance moves, wondering whether I should drive home, how I got home, who drove me home,  where are my keys, my car, my panties, oh, shoot, how did I chip my front tooth, just how much did I tell that perfect stranger about my relationship with my mother, how many times did I tell the perfect stranger how much I love her-the stranger that is, not my mother, my mother’s look of bitter disappointment in the sweet hereafter, telling my boss he really needs to re-think that comb-over at the Christmas office party-I wouldn’t say anything if I didn’t love him, really love him-what the garbage collector is going to think about all of those empties, what the neighbor is going to think when I put my empties in her bin, losing sleep because I spent the night worrying about how early my neighbor gets up in the morning, losing sleep worrying about how early I’ll have to get up to sneak my empties into her bin,  the liquor store clerk keeping a tally of how many times I come in per week, forgetting which liquor store I went to last, spending Thanksgiving and Christmas at the VFW potluck because my kids didn’t invite me, dying alone and broken…

Yep, I’m pretty much fearless these days.

How about you? Have you noticed you’re feeling kind of fearless yourself after not drinking for over two weeks? What fears have gone missing? What fears do you have yet to conquer?

I can tell you one fear you will never have again. You will never again be afraid of going this long without drinking. You’ve crushed that one.

Submitted by Kary May, author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook to Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking At All-Quite Happily: With The Help Of The Online Recovery Community

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Day 17 – Second Wind



Inspirational Song of the Day: Christina Aguilera – Climb Every Mountain

“The fatigue of the climb was great but it is interesting to learn once more how much further one can go on one’s second wind. I think that is an important lesson for everyone to learn for it should also be applied to one’s mental efforts. Most people go through life without ever discovering the existence of that whole field of endeavor which we describe as second wind. Whether mentally or physically occupied most people give up at the first appearance of exhaustion. Thus they never learn the glory and the exhilaration of genuine effort…”
– Agnes Elizabeth née Ernst Meyer

When I was in college, my Dad and I climbed Mount Whitney. For the record it is the tallest point in the continental US, at 14,505 feet.

Did you know that only about 1/3 of the people who set out to climb Mount Whitney actually make it to the summit? Seriously? Only 1/3? Neither did I.

What happens to all those other people? You gotta figure that most of them are in fairly good shape, have done their research, carry adequate gear, and have done some mountain climbing. But a full 2/3 of those who start out don’t make it? What’s up with that?

My Dad was a quiet mountain man from West Virginia with a dry wit. We climbed the way mountain people have always climbed, slowly and comfortably, lifting each foot just high enough, then letting it drop deliberately in the most secure spot, settling into an easy rhythm. We rarely stopped to rest because we rested with each step.

As we climbed those two days we noticed several groups of people who seemed to be almost racing up the trail.  We would step off the trail so they could huff and puff past us, glancing sideways at us with small smiles of pity. Dad and I slowly plodded along and would eventually come upon those same groups of people who were now sitting to rest, wiping sweat from their brow, gulping oxygen and water.

After awhile they would come charging up behind us again, anxious to get past the two slowpokes.  And sure enough, a little while later, we would amble past them again as they sat gasping for breath.

Dad and I knew something that they did not. We knew about that extraordinary, coveted phenomenon known as the Second Wind. In the mornings Dad and I would stand up, sling on our backpacks and begin our steady march. At some point we would be breathing pretty hard and Dad would ask, “Got your Second Wind yet?” “Nope.”

“Wanna stop and rest?”

“Heck, no! If we stop now, we’ll just have to start all over again!”

Slow rhythmic steps, keep a steady pace, don’t think, just keep clumping along.

“How about now? Got your Second Wind now?”

“Yup. How about you?”

“Yup.”

At that point you could not have paid us to stop to rest because we had finally gained that invaluable treasure, the Second Wind. We were in the zone, tramping along, enjoying the scenery and, truth be told, enjoying the strength of our bodies. If we sat down to rest, we’d have to work that much harder just to earn it all back again. No way were we gonna let that slip away.

Of course, we did stop to rest occasionally, mostly just for a few minutes. Usually we would just take off our packs, grab a Payday candy bar (those are THE best on a backpacking trip!), eat standing up, take a long drink of water, pull our packs back on, and hit the trail again. We knew that if we sat down it would be that much harder to get up, and we would lose our precious Second Wind. We had invested so much to achieve that almighty Second Wind, and there was no way we were going to throw it all away by plopping down for a long rest.

And that brings us, of course, to what I like to call SecondWinduary!

Just stop for a minute and ponder that. You’ve done the work, you’ve kept on trekking when you didn’t think you could take another step or abs another minute, let alone a full day or… 31 days. You’ve found and developed muscles you never knew you had. Maybe some days were harder than others, but let’s face it, if it was easy none of us would be here. But whether you are in the zone or still struggling, there is no way you want to throw all that hard work away. No way.

That oh-my-god-I’ve-been-so-good-I-deserve-it-so-I’m-gonna-drink-as-much-as-I-want or even the I-deserve-it-so-I’m-gonna-just-go-a-bit-over-my-limit celebratory “rest” will cost you what you have worked so hard for, your Second Wind. We all know how hard it is to dig ourselves out of a spiral. Every single one of us knows it is much, much harder to get back up and start trekking again when we have stopped to “rest” (read drink) for too long. The occasional short breather, one or two drinks now and then, is absolutely fine. Nothing wrong with a pleasant refreshing interlude.

The problem, as we all know, is the prolonged hiatus filled with too much alcohol. That’s when we lose our Second Wind and, knowing how hard it will be when we do decide to crawl back to a standing position and commence our climb again, we can tend to just sit and sit in the same place. Of course, the longer we sit there, the harder it is to get back up. You know that. I know that.

So. Here we are near the end of SecondWinduary. Whatcha gonna do?

P.S. Okay, I wanted to end this on a high note, but I know from, ahem, personal experience that some of us, ahem, don’t always make the best choice to keep our Second Wind. We sometimes do sit down and “treat” ourselves to too much for too long. And guess what? We have the choice at every minute to stand back up and take that next first hard step on the way to our next Second Wind. We CAN do it.

Submitted by MM member HorseLover

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Day 18 – Hard Lesson


Inspirational Song of the Day: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

“Focus on the task at hand, focus on that day. Be successful that day.”
– Professor Jeff Price, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Over the years, my drinking became both a daily habit and binges at times. Even though I wasn’t drunk every day and had a feeling I was drinking more than I should at times, I still don’t think I even realized the total number of drinks I had some weeks.

I was drinking well above the MM limits and it finally caught up to me in the form of a binge that led to a blackout (none of which I can remember), including an ambulance ride to the ER.

As I described in the online Abs Chat recently: “I can’t believe how lucky I was to wind up in the ER without a scratch… But I’ll never forget trying to get discharged from the ER – and not being able to understand the paperwork I had to sign. It was like I was a different person, having an out of body experience or something.”

This was right up there with the scariest events of my life and I discovered my drinking could make me a dangerous, obnoxious person that both was me, but wasn’t really me. Or it wasn’t the version of me I knew. I cringe to think of subjecting the emergency responders and ER staff to this “person” I became that night and my ridiculous behavior. My drinking made me become an “emergency,” drawing resources away from other people who needed critical help.

Fast forward to today. With MM’s support, I have 7 months of abstinence and still going strong.
A couple weeks ago, my partner and I were on the way home from a Christmas Party and I was driving. It really meant a lot when she turned to me and said, “I like that you’re sober and can be the one to drive us home tonight. That’s a really nice change this year.”

Submitted by MM Member Marc_R

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Day 19 – Learning More About One’s Self During Each Break

I have yet to abstain a full month without “asterisks.” It’s a little disappointing. But one of the benefits of this failure is that I’ve been forced to forgive myself, and to recognize that my personality is not one of total adherence. And that’s OK because my goal has always been a healthy relationship with alcohol, not complete abstinence.

My relationship with alcohol is not black and white. Mostly my alcohol habit has been functional. This is why it’s been hard for me to consider doing full, permanent abstinence. I never drank to black-out stage. I rarely walked into work with a hangover. But there was enough trouble (mainly weight gain) that I did want to cut down and was surprised to find it difficult. So, since Moderation Management (MM) recommends doing a 30 day break, I’ve done several. I do OK but inevitably have at least one slip-up during those 30 days. This last time, instead of a 30, I set out to do a 24-day abstinence between a couple of big social engagements. I successfully abstained on 21 of those 24 days. On the 3 days that I drank, I successfully moderated.

Some would condemn that as a failure, and judge me an alcoholic, or worse. Instead I have chosen to learn from the experience. In many ways, trying and failing is a better learning experience than complete adherence. Man have I learned! Every time that I abstain 4 or 5 days in a row, I learn. But every time I abstain 10+ days in a row, I learn even more.

During every extended abstinence period, I practice socializing sober and coping with life’s ups and downs without zoning out. Extended abstinence gives me confidence and reduces my dependence. This practice has enabled me to understand better what I want – and do not want – from alcohol. The Responsible Drinking book has been very helpful in those little epiphanies.

The reason why I share this experience of “asterisked” 30s is that many new members on the Forum have expressed a fear of failure. They don’t think they can do a 30. I say go for it. Maybe commit to one or two weeks if 30 days is too intimidating. There’s no way you won’t come away with some self-knowledge and new healthy habits. There’s no shame as long as you keep trying.

This post was submitted by the Forum’s Hazelhoot

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Day 20 – Not Drinking As The New Normal

The key to drinking moderately is simply not drinking. I believe that many of us approach moderation the wrong way. We obsessively count drinks. We plot what days we will get to drink on our calendars. We plan ahead for those occasions where we will want and deserve to be able to drink – family functions, music festivals, sporting events, weddings – and then we look forward to these little islands of drinking, albeit with some trepidation, in our self-imposed desert of abstinence days. We’re either drinking or thinking about drinking when we’re not drinking. And the more time we think about drinking, the more it becomes part of our reward system. Drinking is the reward we give ourselves for being good. Therein lies the problem: we’ve proven we’re good at being able to drink, what we need to work on is not drinking.

Isn’t that the reason we’re here after all, because we came to realize that we didn’t like what drinking was doing to us, that we wanted to be able to enjoy our lives without alcohol playing such a prominent role? We wanted a new kind of life, at least I certainly did. I want being able to enjoy life without a drink to be my new normal: waking up clear-headed with the energy and attitude to take on a new day, appreciating the fullness of the day’s moments, times spent with family and friends being truly in the present moment, enjoying the richness of the experience of life’s little moments, feeling healthy, watching movies to the end and remembering them the next day, getting high on things like music and beauty and nature, curling up with a book and a cup of tea, the blessed relief of not constantly stressing over the availability of alcohol when going out, the sense of peace, being able to experience all of those things and more is the reason I wanted to end alcohol’s grip on my life. And those are all things I get to do when I’m not drinking. They are the rewards, and drinking gets in the way of all that. So I focus my mind on not drinking. I don’t consider myself a moderate drinker. I consider myself a non-drinker who has a drink or two now and then. A subtle difference, but a powerful one.

Taking this month off from alcohol is an important first step, getting back in touch with all of the rewards that we’ve denied ourselves by over-drinking. It is an opportunity to practice not drinking as the new normal. And it shouldn’t stop here. I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to hold onto this feeling. I will focus my mental energy on all the things I can do when I’m not drinking, how much richer those experiences are for it, and how much better I will feel. “Can I have a drink now?” should be replaced by “Why would I want a drink now?” Sure, there will be situations, mostly social in nature, where I will decide to have a drink or two. I won’t go looking for those situations; I know they will find me eventually, and I will be ready when they do.

With practice, and a little patience, not drinking has become my new normal. I don’t see the non-drinking days as what I have to get through in order to drink again; rather, I see the occasional drink as a slight though pleasant deviation from my usual sober routine during bad days and good days. Drinking isn’t the reward; the good days are. Even the bad days are more tolerable when I don’t wake up feeling like crap. And the more you live that life, even if it feels artificial at first, the more likely it will become the new reality.

This post was submitted by The Forum’s Bruce

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Welcome to Dryuary 2017!

Congratulations- You have joined us for Dryuary 2017!

We are sending emails every day in January to help you stay focused; these messages will also appear here on our Dryuary.org website. Your job is to stay focused and resolved. You have just made a great investment in a healthier, more productive you.

To contact us, use your Email system and send to:
dryuary@dryuary.org

Dryuary™ is sponsored by Moderation Management™
Moderation Management™ (MM) is a national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes.

For more information, see www.moderation.org/whatisMM.shtml
Moderation Management™ is a 501(c)(3) IRS-registered non-profit organization.

 

Do you have fond memories of last year’s Dryuary 2016?
It is still online – visit the pages at:
http://www.moderation.org/dryuary/dryuary2016/

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Dryuary Music Selections

See our Dryuary Playlist at:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtKPEAc3LODyqgB-CEfG99EH6LEpjcBJJ

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Dryuary Links and Resources

MEDIA:
Thousands of people around the world are taking January off from alcohol, and there is no shortage of media stories about it:

Tctmd.com – Be It Resolved: How Alcohol Harms or Helps the Heart Remains Controversial—and Confusing
https://www.tctmd.com/news/be-it-resolved-how-alcohol-harms-or-helps-heart-remains-controversial-and-confusing
“Broadly speaking, we know that alcohol at that one to two standard drinks per day level in men and one standard drink in women has proven benefits in reducing the incidence of heart attacks, reducing the incidence of cardiovascular mortality, and even reducing total mortality and stroke,” Kistler said. “But it’s a J-shaped curve, so as we go beyond four to five standard drinks per day then [alcohol] becomes dangerous. And I do think we, as physicians, kind of struggle with implementing that moderation message.”

Blog: GodWalkedIntoThisBar.blogspot.com – Dryuary Countdown Special
https://godwalkedintothisbar.blogspot.com/2017/01/dryuary-countdown-special.html
“The book that 4 people are talking about! Available on Amazon for $.99 for the next 5 days.
Guaranteed results if you read this book! (okay, you can’t just read it, you have to do some other things, too. This recovery thing just doesn’t happen by reading, although I spent many years just ‘reading’ about it.)”

TheChronicleHerald.ca, Halifax Canada – Alcohol-free: ‘Dryuary’ trend gains momentum
http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1431308-alcohol-free-%E2%80%98dryuary%E2%80%99-trend-gains-momentum
“Don’t be surprised if your friends decline an invite to the wine bar or turn down a cold beer this month. Dry January is becoming a popular way to detox after holiday indulgences and start the new year on a healthier note.
The New York Times recently profiled a man who has been practising a booze-free January on his own for the last decade. He believes a month without alcohol allows him to sleep better, have lucid dreams, and lose about 10 pounds.
But for those who thrive with peer support, there’s Dryuary. The annual event started in 2014 and more than 5,000 people have participated so far — vowing to abstain from alcohol for the month of January.”

TheLuxicon.com – Surviving Dryuary
http://theluxicon.co/surviving-dryuary/
“I don’t take issue with this practice alone or the notion that it’s sometimes necessary to scale back on indulgence. Dryuary, Drynuary or Dry January, all of which sound disturbingly close to a medical condition that one ought to avoid, approaches obnoxious when one cannot complete the task of abstaining one month without continuous reminders on Twitter, Insta, Snap, FB and any and all other platforms which presents an opportunity to visually shout, “I’m better than you!” ”

Wired.com – Delicious Non-Boozy Beer, Wine, and Spirits for Dry January
https://www.wired.com/2017/01/delicious-non-boozy-beer-wine-spirits-dry-january/
“The first weekend of Dry January is upon us, which means you may find yourself more tempted than usual to reach for a drink. Pro-tip: Find alternatives you can get excited about. Here are some brilliantly conceived beverages you’ll be delighted to drink—even when you’re not being a sober soldier.”

Vice.com – How to Not Be an A**hole if You’re Doing Dryuary
https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/how-to-not-be-an-asshole-if-youre-doing-dryuary
“Quitting booze for one month a year doesn’t make you a hero.
I, like many others who went far too hard on the rum and eggnogs in December, will be ringing in 2017 with Dryuary, aka Drynuary, the annual tradition Urban Dictionary describes as ‘the art of not drinking alcohol for the entire month of January.’ And it’s an art indeed.”

Chicago Tribune – Chicago bars have mocktails at the ready as Dry January catches on
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-dry-january-chicago-bars-0105-biz-20170105-story.html
“A month without drinking can feel long and arduous to some, especially when that month is January in Chicago. The days are short, the cold is unrelenting and a cocktail or two might seem like a good cure for the winter blues. Yet five years after Dry January launched in England, it’s catching on in Chicago, and scores of folks are depriving themselves of alcohol for 31 chilly days. Call it a new year’s resolution, a cleanse or a money-saving tactic. Whatever it is, Chicago bars are prepared, mocktails at the ready.”

YourBestWorstFriend.com – Everybody’s Sober But Me
http://www.yourbestworstfriend.com/home/2017/1/4/everybodys-sober-but-me
“I’m going to learn how to treat drinking as a nice thing to do occasionally. I am going to say no. I am going to sit in discomfort and nerves and learn how to deal with them in different ways. I am going to wonder if I’m saying the smart thing at the party. I’m going to be more jittery on the subway. I’m going to think more about my interactions.”

Yahoo Sports – “Dry Jan”, Week 1: Breaking Up With Booze
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/dry-jan-week-1-breaking-093900338.html
“If you think you can’t stop drinking, you should probably try to do it,” a close friend told me back in September. The friend was, at the time, celebrating one year sober with the help of AA. Now, I’ve been given a lot of advice about my drinking over the years, but it’s often the type I choose to ignore: “We’re going home after this one,” my friend will say as I order another round of tequila shots; “Maybe you’d have enough money to buy a house if you didn’t spend it all on alcohol,” quip my hilarious parents.

ApartmentTherapy.com – I’m Taking on Dryuary and Abstaining from Alcohol for the Month
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/real-life-resolution-giving-up-drinking-for-dryuary-240047
“People don’t even agree on how this thing is spelled—Drynuary, Dryuary—so I’m not going into it thinking everyone will agree with my choice. Some experts say Dryuary, as we’ll be spelling it here, encourages binge drinking. Others say it’s one of the best ways to kick off a healthy new year. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between.”

OhSoBeautifulPaper.com – A Mock Tai
http://ohsobeautifulpaper.com/2016/01/friday-happy-hour-a-mock-tai-mocktail-recipe/
“So, last month’s exploration of classic cocktails was cut a little short. We decided, with very little notice, to undertake a major house renovation project, the complete redo of our only full bathroom. Over the holidays. Yeah, we’re smart people. Anyway, we’re back this month to do something we’ve never done before: spend some time trying out mocktail recipes. Yup. This January is now Dry-uary. Let’s start with a mocktail version of one of our favorite Tiki drinks: A Mock Tai – Andrew”

GoBankingRates.com – Taking the Dryuary Challenge: How Much Americans Drink and Spend on Booze
https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/taking-dryuary-challenge-much-americans-drink-spend-booze/
“Most American adults spend $463 per year on alcoholic beverages.
If a month of holiday parties makes you want to swear off alcohol for a while, you’re not alone. Thousands of people across the U.S. participate in Dryuary, taking a pledge not to drink alcohol in January. Although some take part in the New Year’s resolution to achieve a feeling of control over their habits and life, taking a 31-day alcoholiday also makes financial sense.”

MedicalDaily.com – Life Without Alcohol: 2 Women, One 30-Day Physical And Mental Challenge
http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-without-alcohol-2-women-one-30-day-physical-and-mental-challenge-307734
“Every study I’ve ever read straight up says this is bad, unhealthy behavior — a strain on every organ in your body that can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease. For the life of me, though, I cannot color within the lines every single time.”

HuffingtonPost – Could You Survive One Month Without Alcohol? Here’s How I Made It
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-and-debbie-abbott/could-you-survive-just-on_b_5864424.html
“I’m still just as fun as before. And, so are you. So, don’t alter your plans.”

HuffingtonPost – How To Stay Social While Cutting Out Alcohol For ‘Drynuary’
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/08/drynuary_n_6438672.html
[It was] a month of exploring our city, going to places we normally otherwise wouldn’t, maybe explore instead of going to the restaurant or bar. It was fun.”

UrbanDictionary.com – Dryuary
The art of not drinking alcohol for the entire month of January. Participation normally arises on the 1st January from all walks of life along with phrases like ‘I will never drink again’.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dryuary

Slate.com – What a Psychologist Specializing in Addiction Treatment Thinks About Drynuary
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/01/19/drynuary_and_moderation_management_s_dryuary_a_psychologist_specializing.html

EveryDayHealth.com – ‘Dryuary’: Taking a Month Off the Sauce
http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/trevis-gleason-life-with-multiple-sclerosis/dryuary-month-off-alcohol/

University of Washington – “Dryuary” 2014
https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2014/01/21/dryuary-2014/

Business Insider – Dry January is terrible and you should stop doing it
http://www.businessinsider.com/dry-january-is-terrible-2016-1

Refinery29.com – Quit Drinking For A Month — & These 12 Things Happened
http://www.refinery29.com/quit-drinking-for-a-month#slide

Seattle Times  – Dry January Reactions: Shaken and Stirred
http://www.seattletimes.com/life/dry-january-reactions-shaken-and-stirred/

Dry January Tips from “Eat This”
http://www.eatthis.com/dry-january-tips

Time Magazine – Here’s What Happens When You Give Up Drinking for New Year’s
http://time.com/4162629/new-years-resolution-drinking/?xid=emailshare

NPR – Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/01/21/264568151/dry-january-giving-up-booze-for-a-month-does-have-benefits 

TheFix.com – 7 Ways to Prepare For An Alcohol Free January
https://www.thefix.com/how-do-dry-january

PsychCentral.com – Self-Care: Stop Neglecting Yourself
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2016/01/for-2016-stop-neglecting-yourself/ 

InquiringMind.com – Urge Surfing – Substance-use urges rarely last longer than 30 minutes
http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/SurfingTheUrge.html

The Moderation Management Public Forum – About Lapses and Relapses
http://forum.moderation.org/showthread.php?63258-Lapses-amp-Relapses

Ocsober.com.au – Mocktails from a Mixologist in Oz
http://ocsober.com.au/about/mocktails/

REFERENCE BOOKS:
Good reading material, filled with knowledge and support for transformation

Responsible Drinking
by Frederick Rotgers Psy.D., Marc F. Kern Ph.D., & Rudy Hoeltzel
Good reading material, filled with knowledge and support for transformation
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#responsibledrinking

Changing for Good

by Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente
The authors describe the stages of change and what must be done at each stage before moving on to the next.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#changeforgood

Sober for Good: New Solutions For Drinking Problems
by Anne M. Fletcher
For this best-selling book, author Anne Fletcher went straight to the experts: hundreds of men and women who have resolved a drinking problem.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#soberforgood

How to Control Your Drinking 2nd Edition
By William R. Miller, Ph.D., and Ricardo F. Munoz, Ph.D.
Many professionals in the alcohol field now accept that moderation is a reasonable and responsible goal for some (though certainly not all) people seeking to control their use of alcohol and to avoid developing more serious drinking problems. We have found that early stage problem drinkers can be quite successful in learning moderation.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#controlyourdrinking

Moderation Management “Steps of Change”
by Rudy Hoeltzel
Many of the people who look into MM have already tried to get rid of their drinking problem with a big, all-at-once effort of the will – but without success. This program takes quite a different approach. The better approach is to break the change process down into a number of smaller, more manageable steps.
(A free download, PDF)
http://www.moderation.org/about_mm/steps_of_change.html

DRYUARY FORUM: