I’ve decided to take a week off of drinking.
Drinking hasn’t particularly harmed my life recently or anything, though I could certainly go without the extra calories and drain on my finances. I haven’t made poor decisions while drinking, it isn’t hurting my job or my relationships, I haven’t been drinking in excess. But, I’ve noticed something more subtle going on.
I find myself craving it, which is a new experience for me. I’ve never had much of an addictive personality and I’ve been able to stop everything from meat to tobacco to alcohol to video games to masturbation without really much of a struggle. So, this change in my relationship with alcohol kind of terrifies me, and it has been going on for a while.
I’ve spent the last few months trying to justify it away and pretend it “isn’t that bad” (and, on many level, it isn’t that bad). I compared myself to others and said: “See, they have a problem… they are losing relationships and jobs and have liver failure, who am I to complain about a few unexpected cravings?” But that was just an excuse to put off doing what I knew I needed to do. I realize that we should never compare our own mental health to others as a way to put off taking care of ourselves. My PTSD, trichotillomania, stress, financial difficulties, etc. are always “less bad” than someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean I am unworthy of care or should just shut up about it. Self care is the most important thing.
To be honest, I didn’t really realize how bad things were until I started tracking how many drinks I have each day. It is rarely more than 3-4, but when that happens day after day after day I realized something wasn’t really working. I was drinking to relax, drinking to be productive, drinking to deal with stress, drinking mindlessly while watching a movie or playing video games or reading a book. It was almost never just one beer (which is what I would tell myself in the beginning), but one justified two (because 1-2 is a moderate amount, right?) and two justified three.
So, I’m taking a break. I’m not abstaining forever because I don’t think abstinence is the best path to psychological health. I need a healthy relationship with alcohol, not one that demands perfection. Alcohol is a part of our culture and it can be an incredibly beneficial and healthy part of life, but there is danger there (just like there is danger in all things). I need to build up the strength to drink at more appropriate times (and there are MANY appropriate times) and I need to make sure I am the one in control. Cravings will happen, but I want to prove to myself that I am stronger than the cravings.
I guess we will see how it goes, today is the third day of my 7-day (or maybe longer?) break. So far, it hasn’t been too bad, but I almost slipped yesterday and there is always temptation. Maybe I should actually write down what I think are appropriate times and amounts to drink as a thought experiment and then when my break is over I can work on only drinking during those times. Hmm, yeah, I think that is a good next step.