moderation and the big picture

There was a time when all my attention and energy was focused on figuring out this whole (not) drinking thing. For the first 3-6 months, it felt all-consuming, in a way that frequently made me uncomfortable. Generally speaking, I do not like to spend a lot of time working on “self improvement,” trying to analyze myself, or otherwise looking inward; it’s just not that interesting to me. It’s also necessary sometimes, and healthy sometimes, and I was able to accept that and throw myself into this project.

And it was worth it! I drink less than 10% what I used to, and these new habits get easier and easier with practice. My stretches of drinking only within recommended healthy ranges seem to be getting longer. My life is more full, which is also directly related to some of the changes I’ve made. Things are better, and I want them to continue to get better.

I also get tired of thinking about it sometimes, and I’m glad I’ve made changes that are (mostly) solid & sustainable, so that I don’t have to as much. Balance goes two ways — it’s not only important to take responsibility for our own health, but to actively engage in building healthier communities and ecosystems and so forth. And that’s what I’ve been doing, alongside lots of other things, so it’s been a good year for my personal health.

This blog is a tiny slice of my life, but it’s been an important slice. I originally planned to maintain this blog for an entire year, and I’m still going to try. It’s just difficult, occasionally, to find the right tone. That’s because this tiny slice of my life is not particularly representative of the rest. It makes writing blog posts harder sometimes. Where I used to think thoughts entirely focused on moderation, now, if I’m going to write about moderation, I have to narrow down my perspective in a way that sometimes feels arbitrary. Or myopic, like my attempt to write about election night as a personal trigger, rather than an event with real-world, disastrous consequences. I didn’t drink (acute nausea will do that for you), but that’s hardly a silver lining; just another piece of life, it all its complexity.

It’s something I’ve struggled with before. It’s been a complicated kind of year for me, and I’ve resisted the urge to filter most of it through the drinking/not drinking lens. I wonder sometimes if that’s why some of us are so drawn to moderation, because it doesn’t feel like a whole new identity in the way Sober does. Moderation is something I do, not something I am; or that’s one way to think about it, anyway.

What remains is this question of balance. Keeping myself healthy may not always feel intrinsically interesting to me, but it’s a necessary piece that enables me to continue to do the things that are. So I’ve been trying to integrate moderation into my personal sense of identity — it’s a piece of who I am, but not the whole of who I am. Even if it is the main thing I write about here. Same for other online recoverists, of course, and for most people in general.




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