Because I wasn’t a person that outwardly looked like I “had a drinking problem”, I have gotten the question about moderation several times. A totally valid question and one I don’t mind answering at all! It usually sounds like:
“Once you take a break, you can probably just drink sometimes… right?”
“Do you think you really need to not drink FOREVER?”
“You don’t really have a “problem” so I bet you can drink after a while.”
“Have you tried to just drink less?”
Here’s the deal, I have tried moderation. I made lots of fun rules for myself like, for a month I will only drink on the weekends. I will only drink on Mondays and Fridays. I will only drink one drink 3 nights a week etc etc etc. And I usually stuck with my rules (until I didn’t), I even did dry January a couple of times. But there was always an end in sight, a nagging thought of “just make it to Saturday”, the anticipation of the escape or the feeling.
But that is not freedom. Freedom is being okay with showing up for your life as you. Freedom is living without waiting for someone or something to be your signal to be okay. It is not needing anything outside to make you more this or less that.
Alcohol is different than other substances that we abuse because it is so socially ingrained that the thought of not drinking seems like a punishment, not a gift, so I get it. But the thing with moderation it is never ever done. It takes constant thought and self-regulation. Moderation is a constant negotiation with yourself; when you find yourself constantly negotiating to keep something in your life, that is probably a sign you need to let it go. Be done with your thing and figure out how to live through a brutal Thursday as you, it is easier than the constant back and forth in your head. (sorry, that was sort of a lie. It is really hard to be done and learn how to live through a brutal Thursday as you. But it is worth it, and it gets easier. I promise.)
It is work to deal with emotions on your own. It is work to go on date night completely sober when you haven’t done it in 10 years. It takes time to get your light back but you will shine brighter than ever before because you have cleared the haze that had settled over your eyes. Don’t fight to keep something or someone in your life that keeps you from being alive.
Now, here is my confessional. The word forever scares me. I won’t get a tattoo with Mike’s name or a permanent wedding band because I am convinced the second I do, we will get divorced. For some people, being able to say never is easier. For me, it makes me itchy. I don’t like being bossed around, I don’t like being told I can’t, I don’t like committing to knowing who I am going to be in 5o years. I really struggled with this mindset when I first quit drinking because everything I heard was: never question the decision. Then I heard Annie Grace say on a podcast, “I can drink whenever I want, I choose not to.” I felt weirdly relieved when I heard her say it. I am an adult, I can walk into a bar, a liquor store, my own pantry anytime I want and no one can stop me. I choose not to. I can DO and NOT DO anything. To me, that gives me power. However, I said this out loud at a recovery thing and got completely railed on, SO apparently, this thought process isn’t for everyone but it works for me. And that is the beautiful magical thing about life, you get to choose. Your actions and reactions and moderations and modifications are always up to you. Dig deep, be honest with yourself and choose what works for you.
PS I did not go back that recovery thing. Don’t waste your time with people that make you feel bad and also make sure you are drinking enough water.
PPS I will be launching my Recovery Coaching business in January! Please let me know if you are interested in more details!
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