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