When a person permanently stops drinking, the world divides pretty neatly into a before and after. I realize most of us have to try many times before the decision becomes permanent, and I’m not trying to discount anyone’s struggles (it took me at least two years of trying to “quit,” so I am the last person who wishes to disparage someone else’s efforts).
But I do sometimes envy the clear, dichotomous nature of the final decision, the way it splits the timeline cleanly. Choosing moderation means embracing ambiguity, even in language. I didn’t “quit drinking,” I just “started drinking moderately, or trying to, anyway.” I struggle with it as I write posts, trying to find the right language for before and after.
There’s before, when I was drinking a lot. And now, when I…am drinking less. But before, I was having about 300 standard drinks every month. This month is halfway over, and I’ve had just two drinks so far. It’s not just a small reduction in numbers; to me, it feels like a momentous life change. It sure would be nice to find the right words to use when writing about it.
Or maybe I just need to get more comfortable with gray areas, ambiguity, and messy life journeys.