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Urges & Cravings

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    Urges & Cravings

    Tracking and managing your urges and/or cravings.

    Big John on The Serenity Prayer

    Although AA uses this prayer as a staple of their program, and some of us here in MM sometimes tend to shy away from anything that might be considered AA related, my strong personal feeling is that this doesn't belong to AA - it belongs to anyone who cares about their life. For those who are spiritually inclined, it's perfect just the way PRB typed it, and for those of you who aren't comfortable with the thought of "prayer" or anything with "God" in it, you'll find it makes just as much sense if you say it to yourself without the word "God". This "prayer" is what can make the difference between living well verses living miserably, regardless of where you get the inspiration to understand it and try to live it.

    What cannot we change?

    - We cannot change how we grew up.
    - We cannot change how others have treated us.
    - We cannot change any of the things we said or the mistakes we made.
    - We cannot change how much we've drunk... not over the years or yesterday or even so far today.
    - We cannot change where we are.
    - We cannot change who we are.
    - We cannot change anybody else.

    What CAN we change?

    - We can accept that how we grew up is what was, not what is.
    - We can forgive people who have mistreated us, even if they don't deserve it.
    - We can forgive ourselves and quit beating ourselves up for not being perfect.
    - We can look at our past drinking and learn from it.
    - We can stay where we are, or move on to someplace better.
    - We can realize that who we are is not what we've done, but is this wonderful and deserving person who we've probably lost track of.
    - We can start putting all of our unlimited capabilities into changing the one and only person we have the power to change - ourselves.

    The list of what we can and cannot change goes on. But how do we know what thing go in the "cannot change" and "can change" group?
    The answer is that often elusive third part: The wisdom to know the difference. But it's not all that elusive if we just remember to stop and think about it.

    For me, one of the most valuable things that MM gives - maybe second only to comradery - is the ability to better recognize and make sure that I'm not wasting my time trying to change the unchangeable, and at the same time make sure I'm not sitting around wondering why life isn't better, when the fact is that I and every one of us have everything we need to make life whatever it should be. It doesn't start with doing it, it starts with believing it.

    And that to me - in a nutshell - is what this "prayer" is all about.

    Big John


      Astagirl on Secret Drinking

      I used to, too. I had all kinds of reasons that sounded fabulously wonderful and absolutely right. Nowhere to go, I was alone for once, it was decadent, it was so very adult, it was allowed, I would feel relaxed (finally), I would feel better (about myself, about my marriage, about all kinds of things), I would feel more uninhibited.

      My future self never entered into it. And that delay tactic that works so well when you’re trying to moderate…well, in reality, it does not work a fraction as well when you’re putting off dealing with your *hit. No matter how many days or nights I drank in secret, in the open, with or without people, my *hit showed up. Every. Single. Time. And, often because I waited to deal with whatever it was I was avoiding – from the mundane (boredom, garden variety fear, insecurity, situational self-loathing) to the acute (marital issues, work projects or thinking about how I wasn’t acting on a work project, parental issues, The Past) - it was often an awful lot worse when I finally was forced to deal with it. Because I always was. Eventually – in one way or another.

      Often, because I numbed out or otherwise escaped with alcohol, I felt less powerful, more filled with shame, which put me in an equally less powerful position with whatever the issue was or whoever it was with. All, of course in that place and space, more reasons to secretly drink. And then the cycle of the toilet bowl began again.

      You can secretly drink. Absolutely. It’s in your power to do so. But why are you doing it? And how will you be after the fact? Better or worse? I’m thinking worse.

      The first few times putting on your big girl panties will likely frightening resemble the first few days and weeks I started moderating. They’re itchy and weird and uncomfortable and full of pregnant spaces. Then they’re not. Muscles beget muscles and then you’ll find you can conquer more when you can. Otherwise, you’ll be in the same place with the same issues only it’s five, ten, twenty years later and all that time is gone. You’ll never get it back.

      You’re here because you want a different place and space for yourself. You want another change. You’ve got it. Pour what’s left in your glass down the drain. Pour yourself a big old glass of water or juice or ginger ale. Drink it. And ask whatever you’ve been avoiding to sidle up next to you on the couch and tell you her story. See if anything changes. Can’t wait to hear what she has to say.



        empol's changing drinking habits

        Nils I can totally relate to your experience. Weird thing is lately, I just don't want to be part of the "drinking crowd" any longer. It is like, in moderating which for me is probably two light beers, I can see the shallowness and just don't feel connected to people the way I do when we are sober. I really don't like being around people who are drinking anymore (I mean REALLY drinking, not just a couple drinks). Funny thing is, I really never noticed what people were like when they were drinking before because I was always drinking as much. Just never noticed. I am amazed at this new insight I have and I really feel like it is a good thing. I am not really part of a big drinking crowd anyway so maybe this is easier for me than for someone whose social life really does center around drinking events.

        Our closest friends are non-drinkers and boy is that refreshing. I love getting together with them. Instead of being nervous that there won't be alcohol served, like I used to be, I really look forward to the chance to socialize and talk in an honest and real way without chemicals.

        As for me, my change in my drinking habits has been gradual over the past 2 years or so. It has been a journey of increasing awareness of what alcohol does to me/ for me and a gradual loss of interest in using alcohol. I am learning what I need to do in order to keep my alcohol use healthy. I am not following this program "by the book" although I enjoy reading Responsible Drinking and have read many other books about alcohol abuse and recovery. I love reading this stuff, it really helps me. I am proud to be starting to make healthier choices for myself. It does not feel like punishment or denial, rather it is making my life so much better.

        I am realizing that the less I drink, the less I WANT to drink. So, like last night, after about 7 ounces of red wine at dinner, I briefly craved a beer. But honestly, it was just a tiny desire and I decided not to get up and get one. So today, my cravings will be less.

        Actually the best thing about drinking less is feeling free of the cravings. They used to rule my life. Always had to have a plan to include alcohol in my day and the earlier in the day, the better. And if there was no plan for alcohol or it was not coming until later, I would sneak some. I would get nervous about my household supply getting low which was crazy because the liquor store is right around the corner. Now, I can go about my life free of these cravings and the "need" to drink. It is very liberating.

        Meeting with my therapist every week, and coming here regularly, have been the keys to my success. I don't mean to say I have succeeded, because I still drink every day. But one or two, and occasionally three, drinks a day is WAY better than 6-8 drinks Every.Single.Day like it was. I will continue to work on this. I have new goals. It has been baby steps but I am proud of each tiny change that I make.


          Pono on urge surfing

          Try this the next time you have an urge.

          Don't tell yourself "I can't, won't, shouldn't drink."

          Just tell yourself "ok, I know I can have a drink, but I'm just gonna sit for 5 minutes and feel this."

          ... I think when we give ourselves strong ultimatums, we just turn our back on them because they are too much to fathom.

          If you practice surfing an urge, just for a bit, whether you end up taking a drink or not, you are in effect practicing surfing the urge. You get to see the worst that can happen..i.e. "What is this feeling of holding back from the drink and will it kill me?"

          You may notice that it is uncomfortable but that it doesn't kill you.

          The next thing that helps is distraction. When we are not thinking a thought, we cannot feel the emotion induced by the thought.

          So do a little experiment. It won't hurt you. Just give it 5 minutes before succumbing. Maybe the next time 10 minutes.

          The thing about surfing is patience. I suck at patience. Sitting on the board waiting for a wave, you are doing nothing but watching the sea. Surfing isn't as much of a sport, as it is a philosophy.

          You learn a lot about your inner self sitting on a board, thinking you should be doing something, not realizing that you are doing something. For if you take your eyes off the horizon, you may either mis s the wave or get rolled up in it.
          So one had to remain aware of everything around them, while doing nothing.

          Surfing an urge is being aware of the sea inside of you. Watching, eventually realizing that you have a choice of whether or not you want to catch a wave, avoid a wave, remain sitting or paddle else where.

          So when an urge to drink comes up for me, as it does every day, I feel it, I recognize it as a wave on the horizon. I can choose to let it pass, I just have to convince myself I have that choice.

          Exercising patience with urges,( 5 minutes, wait 5 minutes) teaches us we have a choice.