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.
PS: Your Moderation May Vary too but that’s a subject for another day.
This post was contributed by the Forum’s Nils