I am an impatient person. Perhaps that is one reason why I was certain I’d have figured this whole moderation thing out by now. After all, it’s been over four months, and as many posts here testify, I am tired of having to think about this!
Well, I have figured some things out. And overall I’m doing fine. I just continue to feel real uncertainty about how this is going to play out over the long-term, and real impatience to feel like I’m mastering these new habits.
Part of this is because I still find myself wanting to drink too much, frequently. This should come as no surprise: for over ten years, I wanted to drink too much on a more-or-less daily basis, and followed through. The urge lingers, and probably will for a long time (perhaps forever?).
Even as I can accept that, it frustrates me. I was driving home last night and found myself wanting, strongly, to stop at a liquor store to pick up some wine. One of my personal guidelines: the more I want a drink, the less likely it is to be a good idea. I skipped the liquor store, went home, and was grumpy. Not because I felt deprived (which I guess is almost progress), but because I was frustrated to still be fighting this battle.
Another piece of this puzzle is that some progress is subjective. I wrote about the j-curve of change before, as a reminder that our expectations can mess with our perceptions of progress. Things like cravings are subjective as well: my urge to drink last night lasted perhaps fifteen minutes, I was easily distracted by other things, and I actually had a beer in the fridge the whole time and didn’t bother opening it. This is hardly comparable to the urges I felt earlier, which lasted for hours, shattered my concentration, and could barely cope with the fact that the nearest liquor store is about fifteen minutes away on foot. But in my mind, I was still “battling urges” last night, and thus, frustrated by lack of progress.
It seems possible to me that drinking (even moderately) feeds urges. If this continues to bug me, I suppose one solution would be to set aside a period of time and take careful notes on urges (including some kind of ranking scale, to try to quantify them) every day. Then set aside an equal amount of time to practice abstinence and track the urges just as carefully. If urges during moderate periods were higher, I might have some kind of answer. Though I honestly do not know if an absence of urges would motivate me to try permanent abstinence, as there are other considerations at play.
Posting here helps remind me how repetitive these thoughts are. In one version or another, the lack of an identifiable end point is the frustration that has plagued me from the beginning. Eventually, I may make peace with it. Or perhaps it will simply continue to reemerge periodically, my way of chafing against my new habits.