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Doing a "30"

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    Todd on How to Get Nothing from your 30

    It’s easy. Willpower your way through it. Make a post-30 plan, and watch it evaporate because while you were absing from alcohol, instead of trying hard to become the kind of person who doesn’t need to drink, you were just hard to not drink for 30 days.

    I’ve done this. I used to think that moderation was simply a matter of mechanically setting and following a certain number of drinks on a certain number of days. Over the last 3 years I’ve learned over and over that that’s not how it works. It’s more simple, but not so easy.

    So, how do you drink moderately? I don’t know. I’ve only done it successfully for a few weeks out of probably a total of a year’s worth of trying. The sense of the list can give the guidance on that one.

    In thinking about why my moderation wasn’t working, I eventually came to an inevitable conclusion. I didn’t just have a bad habit, like checking Facebook too much or not flossing. Cutting my intake from 12 drinks a week to 6 wouldn’t bring some huge benefit, in the same way that increasing my exercise time from 2 to 4 hours would. Basically, I was calculating alcohol on the same continuum that all the other ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ in my life exist on.

    Last week I wrote about the last drink I had. I didn’t really want it, but I watched helplessly as I poured it. I was sober, but I was not in control.

    My conclusion was that I had not been ready to moderate because alcohol has somehow gained the ability to exert control over me. I had a picture in my mind of what addiction was, and since I didn’t fit that image, I thought I was free from the problem. Now I realize that addiction comprises a wide range of factors, some of which definitely describe me.

    Another reason moderation was frustrating for me was that when I’m waiting to drink, I’m planning it, thinking about it, rationalizing it, questioning it--putting a lot of time into it! And so let’s say that I successfully moderate and have two drinks in two hours. Those drinks have also cost me perhaps one to two more hours in prep/thinking/logging time. Suddenly the groundwork to enjoyment ratio is skewed, which is stressful and therefore encourages more drinking. Stress encourages drinking, drinking causes problems, problems create stress...

    When I’m truly absing--not just waiting a few weeks to drink again, but really living an abs life--these do not happen.

    Alcohol is like a magnet--the closer you get, the more it pulls, but when you’re far away there’s hardly any effect at all. If you spend your whole 30 days waiting for day 31, then the magnet is constantly pulling on you, wearing you down and weakening your willpower. Not a good place to be.

    So let’s live the April 30 as if we were perm abs!

    Woah ... Did I just freak you out, give you a jolt of deprivation stress?

    What’s the difference...? If you’re not going to drink for all of April anyway, then do a little mind exercise with me. If you could be free from the shackles of control that alcohol has over your life, how would you live for the rest of your life? What changes would you make RIGHT NOW, as if you were leaping up after the schoolyard bully had just been sitting on you for too long?

    After you’ve started your daily habit or habits, a great next step is to fully take in mentally the change that this is effecting in your life. So you’re not just going through the motions, but really letting
    the change sink in.

    For me:

    I’'m the kind of person who gets up early in the morning to start each day in a grounded way.
    I’'m the kind of person who enjoys my physical being, exercising a little more each day.
    I'’m the kind of person who is open to the good things the world has tooffer me each day.

    Baby steps...


      SBRS on slips during a 30:

      I had dinner with my dad last night after seeing my grandmother. Dad ordered the big martini. I think he gets more joy out of the actual ordering process than he does actually drinking it. The process seems to get more complex each time he orders it. Or is it making the poor server jump through hoops. Nonetheless, I left our dinner thinking that there is a fine line between support and judgement. I know how they both feel and I tend to be more quiet these days for fear of being perceived of doing the latter. I'm also afraid of being seen as being apathetic.

      Grandma doesn't want to eat. Now, mind you, she never wanted to eat. She only likes to eat pasta. And these days she's not been into that much either. But I don't know, in the past she's done what she needs to do to get better, like after she broke her hip four years ago she was on a mission to get better. All she did last night was say "I want to go home". I just looked back at her and nodded my head with understanding because I couldn't say anything. Dad tried to feed her ensure and told her she has to eat or she can't go home. Then my uncle called - I spoke to him for a minute and he said "now you see how she is - you need to see this - its bad but you need to see it". I don't know, maybe at that stage you need to be talked to like a child. Maybe you need understanding. But when we left for dinner she thanked me for coming to see her.

      Last night it was asked in chat if you slip during your 30 what does it mean, what do you do, etc? I don't know the answer to this. Back after my first 30 I probably would have answered like my dad - "You get up, do it again, you can't succeed at this until you do it." I wouldn't answer that way today. I think the 30 is important just like I think one of my mountain bike races is important - very. But when I crash out of the race or I break my hand, I don't kill myself. Maybe I'll fix the bike and get back in. If I don't, maybe I'm sad. But on Monday I go to work and live my life until the next one and try again. Once the gun fires, its not about last week. And I'm not expecting to win much anymore - just do my best and learn to be better.

      Day 4 - I got lots of work to do today and of course, see grandma.


        Nils on The Doldrums

        Day 14. It's been a tougher week this week but I expected that from my personal experience of previous 30s: the first few days are a breeze, buoyed by good intentions. There's usually a moment that could go either way between days 4-7 where I start to feel really good, so good in fact that I really fancy a drink. And I deserve one, right? Wrong. Not yet. Days 7-10 I have the positive feedback of completing the first week but the remaining time is seeming unreasonable. After that I'm into the doldrums. Not drinking suddenly feels dull rather than inspiring and there's still way more than half of the 30 to go and the little voice in my head that doesn't care about any of this stuff seems louder against the quiet background.

        I went to the pub for a drink with my friends last night - them on beer, me on non-alcoholic drinks - and although I know I can usually pull that off I felt really out of sorts and out of place to the point that I felt I was bringing the whole mood down so I made my excuses and left early. That made me even more miserable because I don't want to be dependent upon alcohol to function socially. But then I got to thinking: "normal" people are sometimes a bit down, or tired, or upset, or whatever. "Normal" people don't just use alcohol to mask their feelings so that they can be the life and soul of the party - it's OK to not be up for a night in the pub.

        I find that thoughts like this characterize the next, and for me the most important, phase of the 30 which with a doff of the cap to Roger Manning I'm going to call "Trying to make the truth even louder". This is the bit where the habit is broken, the momentum is behind me and I can think objectively about my drinking habits and what I want to change about them. It'll take me some time to digest how I felt about last night and to identify how I want to behave in such a situation when I'm moderating but I've got the time and the inclination to do just that and I know I'll be a better and happier person for it as a result. It's exactly the kind of occasion on which I would usually drink too much in order to obliterate my actual mood in order to feel more at home. Maybe at home was actually where I should have been all along.

        I find that doing a 30, or even trying to do a 30, is full of these vignettes and they're the great gift that we get in return for making the effort. I'm still very much looking forward to finishing my 30 and rejoining what I still consider the real battle - that of moderation - but I also feel a growing optimism for the next couple of weeks and what I can learn from them.

        Last edited by gemdropper; 10-08-2016, 11:51 AM.