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Doing a "30"

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    Doing a "30"

    Taking a break from drinking?

    Kary May on coping while abstaining

    You have received so much good advice, I hope you have read all of it and take it all with the care and concern in which it was offered. I just want to address one thing that you mentioned in your post, you said you were angry that you couldn't drink, well join the gang. As a matter of fact, I blogged about being pissed off that I couldn't drink just last night True Confessions, I also whined about how much I missed it, how sometimes I still think about drinking someday. That is so natural, I loved alcohol for a long time, it would be ridiculous to think that I wouldn't miss it or pine for it sometimes. Today I got off work after a very long day and I almost shed tears that I didn't have a drink waiting for me like I used to, but that is just a short moment in a long day and the majority of my hours and days are so much better than what they were when I was drinking, but, of course I miss it sometimes. I'd like to suggest an exercise for you, I wish I would have thought of it while I was still drinking, make a log of how much time you spend feeling bad because of drinking, include the hangovers and the WTF's, of course, but also include the times that you aren't drinking but you feel guilty or embarrassed or depressed about drinking. Be honest and keep it for however long you decide and then look back at all that time you could have back to feel good and proud of yourself. Then take the same amount of time and abs and measure the amount of time you feel sad or pissed that you can't drink. Then compare the two. I'd lay a bet that your going to have more happy time when you are not drinking by a long stretch but if you find that you spend most of your time while you are absing being po'd because you can't drink, then I think you have to take a long hard look at whether alcohol has become way too important in your life, as it had in mine, to ever take a backseat so you can moderate.. I hope you decide to take this challenge, I can't wait to hear the results. Kary


      Sarah on her neglected wine glasses

      My poor wine glasses are being neglected. I've felt a little sad for them, sitting there all cold and dusty like old toys on a shelf. Since I've been not having wine in my house as one way to control my environment, I think they're feeling really left out. And since I have about 3 dozen of them, and only 2 humans live in my house, they really are neglected.

      In the winter time, I usually take them out of their dark, dry home to sit with me by the fire in the family room. Or sometimes I read with them in my nice leather recliner with a cozy blankie. Often times, they get to watch entertaining shows with me on cold winter nights. They would get bathed regularly and dried off and checked for spots. I was a great mom. I really was!

      Now that it's spring time, I would take them out to the garden with me to show them the new flowers I have. They would help me like any little helper would. Make things a little more fun... Not to be wineist or anything, but often times, I'd fill them with chilled white on hot days to cool me off. (Although reds often got their turn in the winter to warm me up.) I bet that the glasses are all talking amongst themselves wondering how this years' perennials are doing -- wondering what new plants I have added so far. Oh, I bet it's just killing them to know!

      Well, I started feeling so bad for my little neglected buddies that I came up with a new idea on how to reintegrate them into my daily life, and mine into theirs. I imagined they were in there whispering about me every time I reached for another type of glass for water, soda, juice, occasional beer, well... anything but wine really. Probably things like, "That bitch! Since when did she start liking them so much more than us? We were number one every time!" And "*Snif Snif* I'll never be drunk from again. I might as well jump and crash on the floor. Don't even try and stop me." Or "She's really getting trashy now. She used to be really classy when she drank from us, and now she doesn't bring wine into the house. She's really going downhill. We should move somewhere better than here. Somewhere more upperclass. Can we organize a yardsale?"

      Like any good mom, I have decided to tend to their needs and make them feel better. So my new thing is to fulfill something for both of us. I, simply put, also am in need of making better food choices. Fruit is pretty to begin with. And wine is made out of fruit. So it occurred to me that cutting up pretty fruits and putting them into my wine glasses would be a decadent treat as well. And to make it even more fun to eat (and I'm sure it's more fun for them too), I've been eating the fruit with these really cute mini-forks I got from Crate and Barrel! I have to tell you, it's been wonderful for both of us. They're enjoying this fine weather, and we've spent some quality time together. They say that strawberry chunks and blackberries actually feel better on their glass than the acidity of wine do.

      I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I brought some wine back home now and then, which I will, but I told them it's going to take some time before that happens. I need some time. 'Till then, I think we're all happier with this new way of living.


        Gary on Doing a 30

        Every step forward is a step in the right direction, yes, right? It's really hard for me to engage in discussions of this topic without seeming judgmental because I believe both 30's I did were invaluable tools for me to find the strength and skills I needed to develop the holy grail of consistency that you speak of. Life threw me an impressive amount of curveballs, spitballs, and the pitcher had an emery board in his glove.

        You don't have to do an intense 30 minutes on the treadmill when you go to the gym. I know, it's boring. You can do a little this and a little that. It beats doing nothing. But the little this and little that doesn't give your heart rate, muscles, and mind the workout that 30 intense minutes do.


          JJ on Guilt and Regret, nominated by Bee

          Cancer. That's my sign. Why oh why would a sign be called that? As a child, I thought I was the cause of my uncle's untimely death from testicular cancer. Talk about guilt.

          Speaking of cancer and guilt, I saw that several of you addressed the guilt and regret that stood out to you from Kary May's post. Something else stood out to me. What I heard her saying is that there is so much more to life than alcohol. We here ~ Kary, me, many of you ~ made alcohol the center of our lives for so long that we forgot there is a big world out there to be enjoyed, rather than it being something we need to numb ourselves against. We felt that most everything that happened, good or bad, was a reason to drink instead of realizing that many of these events were tiny miracles in themselves and could be better appreciated sober. And the ones that weren't miracles, well, they probably could have been handled better sober too. We get so caught up in ourselves and our problems and our desires and our perceived needs that we lose focus on what is really important, what is really real. Cancer is real. Children are real. Jobs are real. Spouses matter ~ a lot. Families actually care, they aren't just nagging for nagging's sake. Bosses are paying us and rightfully expect our best, non-hungover, effort. Celebrations, Nature, special moments with a loved one, rain, snow, shooting stars, and food can all be enjoyed without alcohol. We have trained our brains to think otherwise, but we are wrong. Kary May is right. It's OK to have regrets, shame, and guilt. I don't get the sense that these feelings control her, but they help her to put Life into perspective. They are emotions as valid as joy and peace and contentment.

          I could be wrong, but I think that rather than focusing on her regrets, this is what she wants us to take from her post: jj


            Eric on Abandoning 30 days abs, nominated by Donna

            So the operative term is "commitment". What does that mean to you?

            To me it meant "I will do what I said I was going to do".
            Not "I will try to do what I said I was going to do and if something comes up I'll change my mind."

            OK, I grant you that going to a brewery tour and NOT sampling the wares is pretty strange. But I assure you that many people go to a ball game and do not drink beer. You don't notice them so much because they're not the ones making a scene.

            So my free advice (worth every penny you paid for it) is to think about your 30. In particular the timing of your 30. Don't start one right before two weddings and a trip to Hawaii. January is good for me. It's a New Year's resolution I can check off the list by Feb 1. And the best part: You can drink on New Year's Day, start on the 2nd, and still be done by Feb 1 :-) I'm pretty sure there are no (base)ball games in January. You might have to skip drinking at the Super Bowl party but Super Bowls are typically in February now. The next one is scheduled for February 5, 2012 assuming the NFL labor dispute is ironed out.

            But there's always a party at hand. The point of a 30 is to do all of the normal things in life without drinking.



              Steven on Never Give Up!

              22 Days Abs

              Hey everybody!
              I've gone 22 days abs in a row and this is a new record for me. I haven't gone this long in over SIX YEARS !
              One thing that has helped me a great deal was simply not keeping booze in the house (I know, it seems like "well, duh, what a revelation.."). I was keeping it around "just in case".
              I was here on Feb. 26 as a newbie starting a 30 abs with all the confidence in the world, but on the third night, my depression really kicked in and I gave up. I was able to give up because I kept an emergency supply on hand.
              I started again on March 1st. I still had those overwhelming depressing thoughts ("What's the point? I can't do this. Even if I do this, it doesn't change anything. Who are you kidding?" Yada yada yada..), but this time I couldn't turn to alcohol to take me away from it all. I watched movies and read books and played music and slept (a lot). Also, using the technique of just observing my thoughts and taking note of them rather than just reacting to them, that's helped me as well.
              I'm feeling much better, lost a few pounds, saved a lot of money and I'm going into the final week without any anxiety.
              I just wanted to share this with everybody. Never give up !

              Just finished 30 day abs

              30 days in a row with no alcohol. I'm glad I was able to do it. I was worried for a long time, not sure if drinking was beyond my control or not.
              My depression used to lead me to drink. I needed that little vacation at the end of the day, an escape, some time on my own little island. Of course, the next morning I would feel much worse than I would have if I hadn't drank the night before.
              This past month has taught me that even though I may go to bed feeling sad, waking up the next day with no hangover is really nice. And it's a great way to start the day, knowing that once again I proved to myself that I'm in control and have much more strength than I used to give myself credit for. Not keeping alcohol in the house is important. There are certainly nights when I really want it, but I've proven to myself now that I don't NEED it.
              I'm not sure where I'm going from here, but I just want to say thank you to everyone here for sharing your experiences and words of wisdom. I may not say much in this group, but I do read your words and they definitely do help.
              Maybe my experience can inspire somebody out there. I hope so.
              Never give up !


                Big John to those doing a 30

                In my continuing effort to be nothing but serious and helpful, I present my latest "check box" post for those doing a January 30 but who might not be quite sure what to say...

                Wow, I can't believe
                [ ] it's been almost 30 days
                [ ] I've made it this far
                [ ] all the news coverage
                [ ] it's been a year already

                since I
                [ ] started this abs journey.
                [ ] had my last drink.
                [ ] launched my home made flying saucer and said my kid was in it.
                [ ] took the oath of office.

                It's been a real struggle
                [ ] figuring out what a normal day feels like
                [ ] finding other things to do with my time
                [ ] trying not to look like an idiot
                [ ] taking a bubble bath

                [ ] reaching for a drink.
                [ ] getting bored or discouraged.
                [ ] admitting I'm actually an alien from outer space.
                [ ] my rubber ducky.

                When I started out I
                [ ] wasn't totally confident with myself.
                [ ] really wanted to make some measurable progress.
                [ ] was confused about my sexuality.
                [ ] was afraid in court that the glove WOULD fit.

                There have been days when I
                [ ] thought of giving into the pull of my old habits.
                [ ] wondered if this was all worth it.
                [ ] decided that Simon Cowell was actually a nice guy.
                [ ] thought about giving back my multi-million dollar bonus.

                But then, somehow,
                [ ] I found the strength to surf the urges
                [ ] the thought of completing the 30 pulled me through
                [ ] I realized I was trying to use an etch-a-sketch instead of my laptop
                [ ] I found myself in another police line up

                so I
                [ ] rededicated myself to my own better future.
                [ ] became more involved with the MM list and more honest with myself.
                [ ] got my 3 year old to show me how to use my computer.
                [ ] gave up flashing riders on the subway as a career.

                I don't know if I could have made it this far
                [ ] if I hadn't found MM and all of this wonderful support.
                [ ] without realizing that I'm not alone in this struggle.
                [ ] if I was still a test subject for body armor.
                [ ] if I hadn't broken out of the insane asylum.

                When this 30 days is over I plan to
                [ ] use everything I've been learning
                [ ] stick close to BTB moderation
                [ ] apply to the MacSchool of food handling
                [ ] buy a liquor store

                so that I can
                [ ] continue to make my life better.
                [ ] keep my drinking in a safe and enjoyable place.
                [ ] get a job asking people if they want fries with that?
                [ ] drink more by getting all my booze wholesale.

                In conclusion, having these abs days
                [ ] is one of the best things I've done for myself in years.
                [ ] has taught me that I *CAN* control my own drinking.
                [ ] is why I was able to win the senate seat.
                [ ] oh, I was supposed to be absing???

                Big John


                  cp on doing a 30, nominated by dld

                  Many people have had great difficulties doing a 30. I did. The first time I tried I made it about 10 days and caved. At that point I figured I had broken the spell so to speak and that since no one knew I would just continue drinking. But what I didn't count on was all the support and congratulatory messages I got about my abs. It disgusted me how I could be so dishonest about it all and so I finally "manned up " and admitted that I had been drinking and started again. That time I took my commitment more seriously and went the 30. One suggestion. If ( that is not a prediction ) you slip don't let it stop you. Immediately return to your abs state. Don't let the slip turn into a relapse.

                  I think your approach to this 30 is a wise one. One point of the thirty is to remove alcohol from your system for a significant amount of time so that your body can heal. Another extremely important part though is to notice when craving arises. What is going on at the time ? Note the triggers. Go beyond the obvious "I had a hard day at work" or "everyone at the party was drinking" to see what is going on with your body. Are you tense ? Relaxed ?

                  Tired ? Energized ? How about your thoughts ? What are you saying to yourself ? What is the inside dialogue ? How about your emotions ? Angry ? Content ? When you think you have it figured out go deeper. Look closer. Are you in the present moment ? Or caught up in past reminiscing or caught in guilt or shame ? Are you off in dreams or wishes of the future ?

                  Watch the craving. Follow it all the way through. Our natural response is to push it away. To try not to think about it.
                  To tense up and resist. Instead, time it. See how long it lasts. Note when your thoughts move on to other things.

                  I'm not sure I agree that suffering builds character. But what being very aware of suffering does do is spur us to do something
                  to relieve it. What we do in response to suffering can build character. I have yet to meet one person who ends their suffering
                  by grasping onto their craving. Craving is uncomfortable. But the suffering component is what we add by grasping.

                  I can speak a bit to what not following craving for a fairly longer period of time is like. It is like gaining freedom after a long
                  long prison sentence. It is like coming to rest rather than being tossed about on waves. It is a sense of peace that is almost
                  unimaginable. It is feeling joy even when met with adversity and difficult circumstances. Because your sense of joy is no longer
                  reliant on whether your desire is met or not but is a blossoming from your heart at sheer gratitude of experiencing it all.

                  May you experience it .



                    Caljim on Doing a 30, Nominated by Bee
                    MTFBWY="may the force be with you"

                    When I first joined MM, the abser group seemed foreign and scary. I read some horror stories, and comforted myself that I'd never gone *that* far off the deep end! Well, deep ends are sort of a relative thing. And falling on our face or our ass enough times it is a very personal assessment. When I did my 30, it taught me to live without drinking, to lose the daily habit and urges. But it also teaches us how to live a life where alcohol just isn't a factor and it can be a
                    good life without wine/drink of choice. My goodness, we make drinking out to be such a holy grail sometimes, when really it's just a nice beverage to enjoy (thanks Dean) it a part of a balanced life or not?
                    The decision hits home especially when the alcohol use causes way more harm than good. The life without drinking is not punitive, but a blessing, a new gift of appreciation for a life lived authentically and unmedicated. And to top all that off, it's still a choice, still not a disease or situation of powerlessness. In fact, its the ultimate expression of power we do have. We still retain the right to drink, we just choose not to. Maybe we'll choose to not drink for every day to
                    come, forever, but a day at a time....Absing is integral to moderation. I respect the hell out of these friends of ours who fight their battles in deeper trenches, talk about power. I'm realistic, I keep close to them, lol, them are us! MM is a process where we can make intelligent adult informed decisions about removing drinking from our lives without feeling like it was a
                    court injunction....the force is powerful and strong with such as these. After all it's all about doing or not doing....the trying part is where we have to decide how much wear and tear our lives and livers can take. Yoda was frustrated with Luke, for him it was always how it cannot be done with that one. With us it's how it *can* be done....yeah, we have the Force.


                      Ana Kosok on Doing a 30, Nominated by Donna

                      That's one of the reasons for doing a 30 or longer period of abs. When you aren't drinking for a while, it gives you a chance to see what function it has.


                      My life is boring.
                      I hate my spouse.
                      I hate my job.
                      I can't sleep otherwise.
                      It's one of the best pain-killers.
                      I'm way more depressed/anxious than I knew.
                      It makes me the funny/crazy guy/girl and that's "who I am."
                      I can't have sex without it.
                      I'm so shy, it's the only way I can have a social life.

                      Then these are problems to be solved so you won't just pour alcohol on them.



                        aloha14 on Completed My Thirty and Have Started My Plan!

                        I finished my Thirty day abs with lots of Gold dots! Feeling pretty good about making it just fine and not even thinking about having a drink most days. The "habit modification" seems to have worked. Thursday night I rewarded myself for nearing the end of the Thirty by taking a new class at the gym: "hip-hop cycle." It was more strenuous than the usual spin classes I have had in the past, but it felt great. Yesterday was day 31, and I was on the fence as to whether to start my mod plan or keep absing. I decided to start the mod plan. I don't want to be afraid of moderation. I carefully selected an organically grown grape red wine and poured a measured 5 ounce glass to sip with my favorite new show after dinner. I also kept a tall glass of lemon ice water on hand.

                        I was amazed at how strong the wine was after not having any alcohol for a month. After about an hour and 3 ounces, I really could feel it. I had some popcorn and water before finishing the last 2 ounces in hour two. Needless to say, I am shocked at how easily I used to consume a whole bottle of wine by myself! My body's tolerance level must have been so high. I am really impressed at how the human body is so adjustable and sensitive. I don't ever want to do that to it again.

                        I really appreciate MM for offering me the opportunity to do this with all this support and have a mod plan for this coming week in place: abs Mon. thru Thursday and hope to do the Monday Chat. At this point, my drinking limit may just be one unit as I am so sensitive. Nothing wrong with that!

                        Having the gym and classes several nights a week helps keep me on track too, as I am not home during the "happy hour" to let stress affect me. I am also doing walking meditation at lunch time to relieve stress!


                          Just Plain Phil on the role of the 30, nominated by Kurt

                          [These comments followed a discussion about how abstaining doesn't teach one how to drink moderately, but it does help you identify and cope with your triggers.]

                          And, really, isn't that the key? For the 30 to work, you have to do the
                          work during it! My first 30 (actually more like 45 or so) was in 1999, and
                          all I did was wish for the day when I could start drinking again. A total
                          waste of time. As Pierre said, abstaining ( in that way) didn't teach me
                          anything about moderating. My second 30 (actually 39) a few months ago,
                          was very productive. I used the time to reread RD, figure out a lot of
                          stuff, and adequately prepare for a life of moderate drinking. It included
                          surfing many triggers as Christine described. It got me ready for those
                          abs days that are so vital for a life of moderate drinking.

                          No, the 30 doesn't teach you anything at all, least of all anything about
                          moderating, UNLESS you choose to use that time to learn! But even if you
                          are lucky enough to use that time to learn stuff about you and your
                          drinking problem, when you start drinking again, you STILL have to learn
                          moderation. Having faced down triggers during the abstinence period will
                          help you on abs days while you are learning moderation, but those moderate
                          drinking days you will have to learn about as you plan for and execute

                          Just Plain Phil


                            Sup on Dryuary

                            I started abstaining earlier but decided to extend for Dryuary. I'm on
                            52 days so far, and will reach 69 by the end of the month.
                            My strategies are to read the messages in the email list first thing
                            in the morning and late at night to keep my fresh morning mind and my
                            creating, sleep-ready mind focused on this goal.
                            Each week has been so different I don't think there's any one strategy
                            that covers all of them. The first week is a lot of avoiding normal
                            drinking situations and counting hours until an early bedtime. I drink
                            at home in the evenings; so I literally avoided my home in the
                            evenings until it was bedtime - I went to gyms, bookstores, coffee
                            shops and movies instead. I did my grocery shopping and laundry late
                            at night. The second week is distracting yourself with new/old
                            activities to fill your time. The third week is more emotional as
                            regular life pushes its way back in a bit and you can't avoid and
                            distract yourself. Crap happens. Moods happen. And still, you hold
                            tight to not drinking just for that day. The fourth week is about
                            taking stock of the journey and its unexpected features, and trying to
                            figure out what I want to come next. At the end of my last 30, I
                            decided I wasn't done learning from this experience and thus rolled
                            out another month. I may or may not do that again.
                            That's been the shape of my journey over 'the 30.' Your mileage may vary.


                              alex on "I'm abstaining, but everyone drinking! How annoying!"

                              "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

                              If you abstain for any length of time, you'll no doubt run into some social situation in which you're the only one (or at least that's how it seems) without an alcoholic beverage in hand.

                              What to do about these socially awkward situations? Here are a few pointers to try on for size....

                              1. If you are fortunate enough to know you're heading into one of these situations in advance, then lucky you! Now you have a chance to plan, and set yourself up for abstaining success. For instance, bring a favorite non-alcoholic beverage with you, and start drinking it from the get-go. Sparkling water, NA beer, mocktails... There are dozens of possibilities. Also, try imagining beforehand how good and clear-headed you're going to feel while everyone else is setting themselves up for a hangover.

                              "One of the first and most important skills [in abstinence/moderation] is the ability to refuse drinks when you don't want them... " Rotgers, Kern and Hoeltzel, Responsible Drinking

                              2. What to do when someone offers you a drink? Well, have a good excuse to hand! There are lots of them. E. g.:

                              I'm too tired.
                              I'm too thirsty.
                              I have a headache.

                              And one of my personal faves:

                              Not now, thanks, maybe later...

                              with the plan that "later" will never come.

                              3. Be self-confident, not self-conscious! Surprisingly enough, most people don't really care what you are or aren't drinking. If the drinking goes on long enough, the odds that anyone is going to pay any attention to what you're having will drop precipitously. If someone won't give up (rare, but possible), politely but firmly stand your ground. It's none of their business what, if anything, you're drinking in any case.

                              There are lots more techniques you can try: here's a nice list ( from the NIAAA. And have fun being yourself, instead of what someone else wants you to be!