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  • #31
    Lentil's Six Months of Big Life Changes:


    Today is my six-month anniversary of joining this forum, launching myself into a 30, and discovering that more things are possible than I'd dreamed. I thought I'd post here to share my celebration with you all.

    The list of things I've gained is too long for one post. Better sleep, more stable moods, increased confidence, better skin, clearer thinking, and on and on. I ordered a new pair of hiking pants, and had to buy two sizes smaller than the pair I was wearing six months ago (they're the exact same pants otherwise...just because I'm drinking less doesn't mean I'm any more interested in shopping!). I don't feel like I'm a whole new person, but it does feel like I've scrubbed a sticky film off of everything, like there's an immediacy that was lacking for awhile. I feel like life is something I get to engage with, instead of treating it like as never-ending source of reasons to drink. That includes acting like my favorite version of myself, the one I was really starting to miss. It also includes realizing that I still have a lot of work left to do, especially when it comes to learning better coping skills to handle the rough patches.

    Six months ago was one kind of beginning. I've had many. There was the day two and a half years ago that I read this article, and promptly started a Dry January (and then, on day 31, met a friend for drinks and was back to my previous levels within a week). There were false starts and a few detours, and a whole lot of feeling awful. I didn't have a grand plan when I joined here, and didn't even really have a definition of moderation. Really, on January 27th, I just had a day where I was (a) out of wine and (b) very tired; with considerable effort, I pulled together the strength to be really lazy and not go out to buy more wine that evening. From that massive feat of total inertia, I tiptoed sideways onto the path toward moderation, hands carefully over my eyes so I wouldn't catch sight of anything too scary (like the MM limits). And now look at me, still feeling like I'm faking it sometimes, but also still plugging along!

    If I had to define moderation now, I would say that it consists of learning sustainable, practical skills that let me consistently translate intent into action. I know, that's not a very sexy definition, but take comfort -- someone else might have a totally different definition which is just as valid! For me though, it does not come down to absolute numbers, or to an idea that less is always better, but to a set of skills that I can practice to achieve whatever goals I set.

    That said, I have also learned that the whole endeavor is considerably more fun, and feels much more flexible, when I drink somewhat below the MM limits on a regular basis. That is hilarious to me, because when I first joined MM, the limits made me have a complete melt-down...it really freaked me out to realize how enormous the distance between my regular drinking habits and the recommendations were, and I never thought I'd close that gap. Amazing what six months can accomplish: in the entire month of July, I've had 10.5 standard drinks, which is less than I used to drink on most weeknights. And, funnily enough, found them far more satisfying.

    Alcohol can fill a lot of space in our lives, and when we remove it, we have to figure out other things to fill us instead. For me, community has been one of those things. The real-world community that I am working to build around me, and the online community where I have found so much of the momentum I needed to keep me moving forward. So above all, I just want to say thank you to everyone here, even the people who wrote things years ago that remain online for us newbies to find, read, and discover a bit of common ground. Thanks. Truly.

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