I’ve recently decided to drastically reduce my drinking. I know, I know. How boring, right?
I cringe when people take on no-booze challenges. A 30, 60, 90 day no-alcohol challenge (booooo) – or when people quit drinking altogether… (well, there goes our fun, Carol). These choices tend to make me feel like this person has instantly changed the structure of my relationship with them (if it was centered around times shared over a stiff one), and I wasn’t given the adequate time to mentally prepare for it. And although I support and even encourage their choices, had I been let in on their early contemplations of said behavior change, I also would have have had time to settle and/or “prepare” for those changes. Immediate, blindsiding changes to our anticipated activities can sometimes leave me feeling flustered, unsettled, and with a slight feeling of abandonment. (Yep, something I have to work on, for sure.)
These feelings have often led me to hurting or offending those I love. My sister, for example – the health guru – upon her (semi-regular) forceful announcements to a strict eating plan or no-alcohol consumption period (forceful for what she deems is needed for her own adherence and protection) led me to jokingly deride her choices. Which led her to feeling unsupported and unloved. When Aly did a no-alcohol for 30 days challenge a few years back, this led me to feel disappointed and not wanting to hang out with her as much since I didn’t want to feel “guilty” for not being mentally in the same place as her and doing it also. Nor did I want to be the only one enjoying the fun of alcohol in her sober presence. (We of course talked it out and it helped me get to a faster acceptance of the month ahead)… Recently, my guy took a few weeks off of drinking. And because it was a nightly routine, our nightly routine, this too left me feeling like I was pushed out in the cold, forced to cope with the change to our relationship structure (he actually did pre-warn me – but the feelings were sadly there, nonetheless). These are all my own demons, of course. However, in the end I ultimately expressed to them all that I was proud of them for doing what they did despite my little fit I may or may not have visibly thrown. And I apologized for giving them half-hearted, lackadaisical support in their process.
And here I am, taking the decision I have often been disappointed in others for taking. Without any fair warning to anyone (Hypocrite! Yes, I agree).
I personally despise short term goals like a 30 day challenge in order to start a completely new behavior. I get frustrated with time period goals in general – my mind doesn’t process them well. I can’t quite grasp that someone would commit to a practice for a set period of time in the hopes that their mindset might change after they force their actions to. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is EXACTLY what many people should be doing for them. It’s just nothing I have ever been able to do personally with any long-term success (Yes,this makes me jealous of them). I already know that if my thinking around a subject hasn’t changed, my behavior will not miraculously follow suit and change. I have tried this approach many times and have concluded that I don’t operate in this manner… I just end up feeling anger that I am going against some internal current knowledge in the hope I can make the physical and mental connect. But recently my thinking has started to change… I’ve begun to see the problems it is causing and have determined to address these.
I have been pretty down this past year. Drowning in stress and this exasperating drive to prove myself at my work has been like sludging through quicksand while pulling a truck behind me. So, as I look back over this past year, I found I have clearly trained my brain to signal being “off work” with a Gin and soda (or wine). One Gin and soda all too easily turns into 3 or 4, and before you know it, I am worthless in front of the TV, trying to use that last drink to fight off the stress of tomorrow’s challenges that lie ahead. I then wake up the next morning, slightly hungover, feeling weak and ill-prepared to face the day… This causes me mood swings on one hand, and on the other hand dulls many of the emotions I am trying to access (both good and bad)… I also signal weekend afternoons as a time to cut back and enjoy some leisurely drinking. Once noon hits, it’s game on!
With this schedule, I am drinking daily. Daily.
I have never considered myself an alcoholic, because I go through seasons where booze just doesn’t have any appeal to me or I begin to drink way less because I am so thoroughly enjoying other areas of my life. And while I haven’t quite arrived to a place where I am so thoroughly enjoying other areas of my life at the moment, something in my brain is shifting where I just don’t want alcohol that much right now. I’ve been sitting in my shit long enough to determine it’s time to (reasonably) alter this routine I’ve established.
So, rather than a 30-day challenge approach, I am instead focused around changing activities or chunks of time in my day that I have been designating as suitable, habitual drinking times. Girls night every friday night with Aly? Not one of those times – proceed with drinking. Sunday brunch with Aly? Again, free to proceed. Hosting a dinner with friends and/or family? Nope – drink on. But home, alone, right after I have finished work? Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner, folks. You may not proceed any further.
I have become far too dependent on alcohol to induce a relaxed state following a tense and exhausting work day. My mind is wiped and wired from stress, therefore I grab that drink to calm it immediately. And this can’t be my routine. I am so sick of waking up for work exhausted and tired because of alcohol, only to turn back to it at the end of the day for comfort. I am so tired of looking clammy because I drink daily. I am so tired of using a drink to feel just a little fabricated peace. And these reasons – the mental shifts – have led me to actually desire it less. Well, let’s be honest, I want it – but because I have made myself so sick of sitting in my own shit, I can instantly recall with ease the feeling of depletion, exhaustion and illness. Which helps snaps me out of it. Yeah, water will do just fine… Having my faculties tomorrow morning sounds like a really great plan…
It’s only day 3, and of course my mind is in process of adjusting to the change. I knew that the first week or so would be a little rough with heightened emotions, slightly erratic thinking and the like. I was mentally prepared for this part. Not going to lie, it’s been a little tough relying on my own internal calming techniques. But, in keeping those all too recent memories of just how shitty I have been feeling present, I keep on, because I am just tired of all the negative results. I am just tired.
I guess it’s the Booze Burnout. So, Onward and Upward, right? Let’s keep on and change the little we can and want today, in the way that works best for us…
Cheers. (Mine’s water)