Moderation

For years I thought I was an alcoholic but held hope I was just a problem drinker. Maybe I was a problem drinker back then. What’s the difference anyway?

Last week when I shared my story at a meeting and got to the point where I admitted I’d never had a DUI or lost a job or a husband or, god forbid, children, I felt I had to explain that I knew dire consequences were just around the corner. I did feel this in my gut, but the real reason I knew I had to stop was because I finally accepted that drinking like a normal person was much harder and less enjoyable than not drinking at all.

I attempted moderate drinking throughout my adult life. From time to time I’d decide not to drink during the week, which felt an especially poor decision come Monday night. This modified drinking schedule only lasted a month or so before I tired and gave up. Its end was never acknowledged with anything more than a toast to drinking freely.

The two times I seriously attempted moderate drinking, I went out and bought a book and joined a message board and everything. I followed the book’s guidelines and abstained for 30 days and congratulated myself for being able to give up drinking just like that. It reminds me of the sugar-free diet I’m on right now. It’s really fucking hard, but my sugar ban is not permanent and my brain knows that. Thirty days was just a little respite.

The last time I followed the moderation management program, I followed it to the T. I abstained for 30 days. I came up with a plan and even wrote it out and emailed it to my husband so he could share in the fun of transforming me into a normal drinker.

I stuck to my original plan of no drinks at all Monday through Thursday. I gritted my teeth extra hard on Mondays, but knew it was my last chance. Friday to Sunday, I stuck to my written limits of how much I would drink each night. For about two months, I kept this routine and did not slip or waiver. And you know what? I hated it.

Moderate drinking ruined drinking for me more than the consequences I hadn’t yet suffered. When I sipped beer, I did not get the buzz that feels like your brain slipping into a warm pool of honey. When I paced myself, the clock ran like its gears were gummed up with honey. I saw a half full beer as good as empty. Moderate drinking was hard work! It was not even fun!

Eventually I gave up and slipped back into my old drinking patterns and stayed there for months before I made the decision to stop. I’m not even sure what the final straw was, or if there was one. What I feared most during that time was that life would be miserable without alcohol. I just couldn’t imagine fun without booze.

Recovery is teaching me there is life without alcohol, and it’s actually sweeter than what I had before. Today it’s Monday and I’m grateful I don’t have to go home and feel restless and angry that I don’t get to have a drink. It’s just another day that I’m not going to drink because everything about my life is better when I don’t.

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7 thoughts on “Moderation

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  1. Oh how well I remember my “rules”. Put in place originally to ensure that I did not succumb to the disease that ravaged my family and then used later to prove that it hadn’t when I knew it had. And I so agree that moderation is soooo much worse than just not drinking. Even now if I think about drinking its not about one glass of wine on a sunny afternoon on the deck. Nope for me it’s about getting rip rouring shit faced falling down drunk. That’s what I want and that’s why I quit.

    And still for the life of me I can’t understand people who can have just one or ‘gasp’…leave half a glass of wine when they leave. Who does that?

    Thank you so much for sharing this. This blogging community keeps me sane and sober because I know I’m not alone in feelings like this…especially when it’s so eloquently expressed.

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    1. Thank you for the great comment! Totally don’t get those who leave glasses half full. I don’t even do this with soda. Must be nice, but I’ll never that feeling without a lobotomy.

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  2. I busted my balls trying to moderate and control my alcohol intake, for the past 5 years especially, and it was always so bloody hard. None during the week, off completely for 6 weeks, week on week off, you name it, I tried it. That’s why in the end I just decided to stop it altogether. Great post xxx

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    1. Stopping just on weekdays was, in retrospect, harder than longer periods of total abstinence. That might seem odd to normal drinkers, but I find relief that others feel the same way.

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  3. You just told my story! Or a large part of it… I’ll have to tell the story of my drink diary one day – it was only for me, I didn’t join a group or anything so only person who even knew about it was me… I lied in it!!! How insane is that! “Normal drinking” – not a clue what that is, I observe it in my wife and others but I never ever got it – you describe the overwhelming obsession with alcohol so well, even when “dry” for a period it was still all consuming of my every thought

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    1. Oh I hope you do share it one day. At one meeting, a woman shared she kept a color coded chart with stickers and we laughed and laughed at the silliness of that. No wonder we feel better in sobriety…clearly trying not to be a drunk was exhausting work.

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  4. Love this post and all the comments. While I was drinking every day thought about moderation. In fact I over thought about it. It was all consuming. It’s a huge relief to me not to even worry how can I stop at one! It’s way easier to stop at none!

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