I posted about my numbers yesterday. I’m very proud of them. They also tell only part of the story.
For six months now, I have been pursuing radical changes in my drinking habits. Parts of this were very hard, parts were really pretty easy. I cried. I laughed. I felt like I wanted to give up. I felt like I was coming back to life.
Six months of moderation provides tangible benefits. I have rediscovered sleep. My partner tells me I look ten years younger, and when I look in the mirror, clear eyes look back. My bank account is healthier. I bought a new pair of the same exact hiking pants I already own & love, except I had to order this pair two sizes smaller. Okay, they are a little bit snug around the middle, but I’m pretty sure they’ll fit perfectly soon.
There are intangible rewards to savor too. My mind is less cluttered. I can think big thoughts, or concentrate on small tasks. When I drive home at the end of a busy night, I don’t have to fight the urge to stop at the liquor store. When my partner annoys me, I am sometimes kinder. I get more done, although it must be said, quitting the over-drinking has done nothing to change my chronic procrastination.
That’s because I am still me. I still obsess over pointless things. I still have to apologize and ask people to remind me what their name is, even though they just told me three minutes earlier. I still have bad days, still struggle with depression, still put off cleaning the kitchen until we completely run out of clean dishes. I still want a drink sometimes, and I still make mistakes when it comes to moderation, for that matter. It’s all just a bit more manageable, and I now possess a hot kernel of pride at what I’ve managed to accomplish.
Life is still life, with all its ups and downs. This was neither an exceptionally easy nor exceptionally hard six month stretch, in terms of what else was going on in my life. Some really good things happened. A few really bad things happened. I like to think I was more present for some of the other people in my life who were experiencing their own bad times. I am still worried about how I will handle a major crisis, including some particular triggers that are certain to re-emerge in my life at some point. I am feeling slightly more optimistic than I used to.
I used to experience life as a never-ending source of reasons to drink. For awhile, I felt like moderation was going to transform life into a never-ending series of lessons on why I’m better off not drinking. But the truth is, I don’t think life is either of these things. It’s just a big, beautiful mess of a thing. It is more interesting when I’m not viewing it through a bottle, but it’s also more interesting when I’m not viewing it through the relentless lens of self-improvement. For the past month, I’ve started to feel more and more like myself, and consequently, started to feel like I can experience life on its own terms more often. Which in turn feels like coming alive all over again.
When I started MM, 30 days seemed like an incomprehensibly long time. Six months feels like just the beginning.