Tag Archives: drinking in moderation

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea if I drank” vs. “It wouldn’t be a good idea if I drank”

9 Nov

5:34 pm

Ahh, the mind. Chattering monkeys. (Wait: I actually have more respect for primates’ intelligence than that!) Chittering INSECTS.

These days, as I just commented on Belle’s blog, I no longer look at people drinking red wine in the sun and automatically think, Oh, sigh, I wish that were me. I wish I could drink. I wish I could be happy, like them. I wish I didn’t need the wine to do it. Are they really happy before the wine? Could I be? Will I ever be?

Lately, I don’t automatically want to drink OR want their happiness. I know now that “happiness” is big, wide, not easily gotten or defined. That it takes work. That I can be versions of “happy.” That I don’t have to be “happy” to be, well, happy.

Substituting wine for happiness holds no weight for me at this point; and, that makes me sad sometimes. Sure, I miss the buzz, and I miss what it represents (fun, youth, old times, etc.), but…I know now that when the wine wears off, all you’re left with is a fake time had by all, a hangover, and your untended sadness. You just can’t live in unhappiness for long, though. I mean, I think that’s what AA means by “dry drunk,” in that, if you come to accept the fact that alcohol does not equal happiness, then you also are compelled to find happiness where it really exists. Hard work, no avoiding. Growing up. Growing OUT. EXPANDING.

For me, it’s been about “re-training” my brain, as Lisa writes about on her blog, to dissociate “reward” from wine. And, it’s also been about coming to terms with the fact that my yearning is a good thing. I think I yearn for wine–what it used to do, give, be for me–but in my heart, I feel (know) that this yearning is actually for what makes me happy. Which I’m still figuring out. This yearning propels me to continue to seek out what will bring me actual happiness. There is no illusion anymore that it’s wine’s job. It’s mine.

So, no, it would not be a good idea if I drank.

That being said, lately I’ve been noticing my mind circling around one thought: moderation. It usually manifests in the form of a sentence sneakily similar to the one above: It would not be a BAD idea if I drank.

Would it?

Like, would it be that bad? Could I handle it? I suppose the “it” here is moderation. That horrible two-drink thing. ICK. EWW. GRR.

It’s a strange shift in perspective. It would not be a GOOD idea if I drank…when I am desperate, sad, mad, depressed, or existentially challenged. It would not be a GOOD idea if I drank in “fuck it” mode. But… What?

I don’t really have many “fuck it” moments anymore. I don’t seem to have those pits of despair, those desperate, sad, mad, depressed, or existentially-challenging moments anymore. Sure, I sort of have them, it’s just that when they come, I know how to deal with them. I don’t consider wine, it is not an option. I know what ELSE to do, what ELSE to think, and I’m pretty much able to let most of the unnecessary negativity go. I no longer need to warn myself, No, it really would not be a GOOD idea if you drank right now.

But…would it be a BAD idea if I drank? In moments of calm, of joy, of nothing special? I mean, how bad could it be? I could probably manage a night, maybe more–a week, a month?–drinking in “moderation.” However, I know from experience that once you let your guard down, once you open yourself up to the possibility of using that old, tired, haggard solution to your problems, it’s hard to consider the other, better solutions.

I think this is called “well-worn neural pathways;” or, in other words, “alcoholism.” Geez.

See, I’ve been wondering lately if–and when–I will be able to drink in moderation again. (I still have hope, I’ll admit it.) And, I keep telling myself, the only way I will allow myself to try is if I truly believe that I can take it or leave it. If I could stand over a bottle of red wine and say, “I could drink you…or not, it doesn’t really matter“–only then would I be “recovered.”

And, honestly, I can’t even imagine doing that yet–going on 17 months getting sober.

I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments about moderation lately. I know what you want, because I want it, too: We want to drink without the compulsion to have MORE.

Sure, we all CAN drink in moderation, if we activate our superpowers. The question is, do we WANT to? I mean, I am able to stop after two drinks, but it sucks. IT SUCKS. My version of hell, in fact, would be having to participate in one of those harm reduction programs where you and your counselor go out to a bar, you drink your two drinks, and then you both sit there together, coming down from your two drinks. GAWD. Talk about painful. Apparently, it helps you “moderate” your consumption by helping you tolerate your compulsion. To LEARN ways to come down and then, walk away. Um, WHAT? How is that NOT Dante’s Inferno?

Every time I’ve had two drinks (in the past, let’s say, 5 years), I’ve felt nothing but one of two things: an irritating-to-extreme desire to have more, and when I know I can’t, an irritating-to-extreme agitation. Moderation just seems HARD, so, I guess I’d prefer to skip those two measly drinks than have to deal with the hard work of stopping when I don’t want to.

“You play, you pay,” is what one of my wiser roommates used to tell me as he watched me deal with the night before. Simple, but good advice. For now, I’m putting the idea of moderation back into its box and under the bed. It’ll be there when I get back, I’m sure. 😉

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