“We need to create a life we don’t need to escape.”
– Holly Whitaker
I am unfinished. A work in progress, a project girl. Like a house under remodel, I am living within myself while making improvements. Many times I have read happy stories of others who have successfully moderated or stopped drinking and I am always inspired and admire that success. But I’m not quite there. My progress has been a slow burn, and this post does not have the «I lived happily ever after with success in moderating» ending that you are hoping for (yet!) Looking back through my personal calendars, I realized that I have been attempting to cut back on drinking for many years, as evidenced in my tallies to the side, and goals written down. Sometimes I stopped tracking because it was too hard. Life got in the way.
I started drinking mainly to cope with a bad relationship, and then it became routine. Sometimes, I drank to celebrate, or relax after a tough day at work, or numb out when on a date, or I was bored. I never blacked out, or woke up in my own vomit, or got arrested, but I knew I drank too much. I suppose my commitment to moderation began when an ex asked me several times if I needed to drink to be with him. My knee-jerk response at first was no, although the answer was really yes, and finally it became «I need to drink to be with myself.» Which is my truth. I am continually constructing the life I don’t need to escape from, and becoming, like a worm to a butterfly, the person I don’t want to escape from.
My first Dryuary was difficult, but successful. Typical white-knuckling behavior, and I didn’t do all the work on myself and started right up again in February, losing touch with Abstar in April. Second Dryuary was OK, drank on 3 days, not making it a full 30. Third Dryuary was slightly less successful but I tried. Then, in March last year, my good friend died of liver cancer and I did a complete mental evaluation of the absurdity that my healthy, non-drinking friend lost that battle, and here I was, poisoning a perfectly healthy liver because…because. I realized that my failures needed more serious addressing. So I worked on myself. Even though I drank, I also read, watched TED talks, listened to podcasts, remained on Abstar more throughout the year, and actively moderated more. Not perfectly, but a little more. I spent time examining myself, my motives, my cravings, and letting more of it all sink in. I went to counseling. I was actually excited about the next Dryuary to see how it would go compared to the last few. So far, it’s been a lot better. In fact, I might try to do a 90, or close to a 90 here soon because 31 days might not be enough. This time, it is different.
My point to all this is to say that sometimes big ticket items like becoming alcohol-free or moderating take time, and we can’t continually beat ourselves up for it. One little thing at a time, some months that’s the best I can do! But every little bit helps. Let me say that again. Every little bit helps! I find joy in one night of better sleep, I invested in some French skin care products and love my nightly self-care routine. I read a little more, cook a little more, celebrate little wins all along the way. Because even if they’re small to the world, they are big to me, and they add up. Like the football game party I attended and had a LaCroix. Or the fancy dinner I had with water and not Chardonnay. Or the funeral I went to and fully experienced my grief because I didn’t arrive drunk. Or the bad day I had with my boss and I drowned my anger in Perrier and a fast walk outside. The amazing work I got done because I wasn’t hungover. The time and attention I could give to my family because I wasn’t hiding in my house, drinking. It’s ok to not be perfect, to win the first time, and you should pat yourself on the back for every success, even if it is sandwiched between not-so-good days. I know that by each small victory, I can do it again.
As I look forward to February, I wonder if once more I will fall back into old habits. But I look to the past and realize that I am incomplete, not there yet. I am still a work in progress, but there has been progress! If you are also struggling, do the best you can even if you are at a snail’s pace. Lean on us for support, tomorrow’s another day. Every little bit of harm reduction helps, and know that you are not alone. Celebrate your small wins, and know that we will cheer you on every step of the way. We are all in this together. I am unfinished, perhaps you are too, and that’s ok! I believe in us.
Post Submitted By: Christy Dee