“You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before because it might take too long. You can can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment.”
– Israelmore Ayivor
I have been helping with Dryuary for three years and I know that right about now, a week into Dryuary, is when we start receiving the requests for cancellations. We never receive an explanation of why people are cancelling, but I imagine it is because they slipped and drank and feel that somehow they have “failed” Dryuary. And, really, they don’t need a reminder of their “failure” arriving in their email bright and freakin’ early every day.
I get it.
When I joined Moderation Management eight years ago, I had no intention of ever doing their recommended 30 day “abs” stint. I was just going to hang low and hope no one ever noticed. (By the way, the recommended 30 days straight of abstinence is not a requirement, it is a recommendation.) But, after only one month someone grabbed me by the lapels and said, a little adamantly, “I need to do a 30. Buddy-up with me.”
How could I say, “No?”
I made it 22 Days and then I fell completely off the wagon. So, I disappeared, never to be heard from again…until a few weeks later when I slinked back in. Now, you would think I learned my lesson, after all, I never planned on doing a 30 in the first place, but that 22 days did something to me, it awakened possibility. I hadn’t met my goal but I’d gone further than I’d ever been before on my own. If I could go 22 days without drinking, by damn, I could go another eight.
So, I tried. And, I tried. And, I tried again.
I repeated this scenario at least 6 times in my first year of trying to gain control of my drinking with the help of a support group. Oh, I’d tried cutting down on my drinking or quitting altogether on my own all my life and got nowhere but deeper into the bottomless well of my drinking problem. Hauling yourself out, hand-over-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder with others is a whole ‘nother ballgame.
Finally, the end of my first year of belonging to a support group rolls around and I am one big failure. Capital F. I failed miserably at moderating and I failed time and time again at going 30 days without drinking. I remember standing there feeling like I had a big “L” tattooed on my forehead, looking down at a calendar I’d kept for the whole year. I had marked each day with a letter, an “A” for abstinence, an “M” for moderation, and a big fat “D” for drunk. There were enough “D’s” to make me cringe, the “M’s” were in meager supply, but, when I started counting up those “A’s,” I found I had been abstinent 66% of the year. 66%!! Some people might say that 66% on the old grade scale is still a big fat “F” for failure but, you know what? If I had succeeded at that first attempt at completing a 30-day abs stint, I probably wouldn’t have attempted another 30, ever. No need, I’d proved to myself that I could do it. Had that happened, the number of A’s on that calendar would have been 30, plus a few more abs days thrown in- say 30, no 60-throughout the year to make a total of 90 days of abstinence for the year. 90 days of abstinence in a year would have given me a score of 25%. 25% for succeeding at my goal and making a fairly decent showing at getting some abs days in the rest of the year.
66%=F for Failure?
I don’t think so.
More like a humongous “S” for SUCCESS!” Even though I hadn’t succeeded at all at what I’d set out to accomplish.
My point? My point is that success is not found in completing 1, or 10, or 31 days or 7 years of abstaining from drinking or moderating our drinking successfully. Success is in never giving up on ourselves.
So, if you slipped and had a couple drinks or a whole lot of drinks last weekend or last night, don’t count yourself out. I understand the need to crawl off and lick your wounds and mutter, “Dryuary, what a crock of sh!+” But, I hope you don’t cancel your subscription, I hope you leave the door open for when you want to walk back in with your head held up high-no slinking allowed. If that’s tomorrow, “Hurrah!” If it’s a month or six months from now when you finally decide to open up all those Dryuary emails, “Hurrah!”
That’s when you step up to the starting line again.
That’s when you earn your great big “S” for success because you didn’t give up.
Post Submitted By: Mary Reid aka Kary May Hickey
Mary Reid is the Program Director of Moderation Management and the author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook To Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking At All, Quite Happily: With the help of online recovery community
P.S. Apologies to my MM amigos who have heard this story like a gazillion times. Just because I quit drinking doesn’t mean I quit repeating myself. Oh, and watch the video-it’ll make you smile.