They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I googled it, apparently not. It seems things aren’t always that simple. Well anyway I decided to make my own rule. I chose 100 days. It seemed like a nice round number. 100 sober days.
There use to be an alcohol awareness campaign that had the tag line ‘It’s not what we’re drinking, it’s how we’re drinking’. I can relate, I was drinking to oblivion. I was experiencing significant blackouts when I went out drinking. If you haven’t experienced blackout’s then you may find them hard to believe. Often times people can have selective memories the day after drinking or can experience ‘grey-outs’. Grey-outs are when you have forgotten but when someone reminds you of an event, the memory restores and you get that ‘oh my god I remember that’ moment. A blackout is essentially when the short term memories don’t convert to long term memories, the memories are gone, they are not stored anywhere so no matter what someone tells you, you won’t remember. It is an incredibly shit feeling waking up in the morning and not knowing how you got there and having no recollection of the final 2 or 3 or even 4 hours of the night. When you are obliterated like that you have lost all cognition, you are on automatic pilot. Bad decisions are imminent.
So I agree with the campaign slogan, “how we’re drinking” is definitely an issue, I also think though that “why we’re drinking” can be equally an issue. Are you drinking to celebrate a special occasion? Are you drinking to enjoy a social gathering? Or are you drinking to escape the challenges that you are faced with in life? Intoxication was giving me a temporary reprieve from the challenges of everyday life. For a short time any anxiety, stress or fear could be forced to the back of my mind and replaced with fun, laughter and freedom. That was of course until the morning after. There I was again, back in the real world, challenges and emotional bourdons intact. Now though I was hungover and emotionally drained with even less mental capacity to deal with them. The anxiety, stress and fear would then compound as my state of mind was weak. I needed to escape again. Rinse and repeat. Down we go. Emotional oblivion. Pass the Prozac.
I socialised with many people who would have partied at a similar level and frequency to me and maybe it’s not an issue for them, it’s not for me to judge others nor do I have any willingness to do so. I think ultimately no matter what it is, drink, drugs, gambling or anything else the line of moderation can be a blurry one. If your behaviour is outside of what society deems to be reasonable then you may likely be assessed as having a problem. If however you are below societies behavioural radar the measure of acceptable moderation is going to come down to your own self assessment. What is too much? What price am I paying? It really comes down to you and the questions you ask of yourself.
The moment that really got me in the end was when I started focusing on the man I wanted to become and what I wanted to achieve. When I thought of who that person was I knew that if I continued the way I was going I couldn’t become that man. I wasn’t going to achieve what I believed I could. That was my litmus test.
So I finally stopped running and started fighting, literally.
I would like to be able to have a social drink again and maintain a level of moderation. I know that if I do it has to pass my criteria, it cannot negatively influence or slow my journey forward. What I have learnt within myself is that sometimes abstinence is easier than moderation. Drinking again does freak me out because I currently enjoy the safety of abstinence, moderation is a beast I have yet to conquer and she is a fiery one.
There is a lot at stake. My boys deserve the best of me. My family and friends deserve the best of me. My colleagues deserve the best of me. I deserve the best of me.