Ah the big test, the Saturday BBQ set within a difficult context. I was going with a plan; count the units, record the drinks on my app, set limits, alternate alcohol with soft drinks. Jim you are marvellous, with a plan like that you cannot fail, you are a beacon of hope to all the failed moderators out there! So… how did it go?
Well on one level…. oh stop prevaricating. How did it go? Did you succeed?
Short answer, No. Longer answer, sort of, and yet overall I feel very positive and optimistic if I take the weekend as a whole. Rewind to Friday night.
Fridays I drink; always. It’s Friday and the powerful association kicks in. My son and his girlfriend were staying in preparation for Saturday’s BBQ. By the time they arrived it was 9pm and I hadn’t had a drink. They both fancied a few beers after a long trip but I decided that because I would be drinking the next day, I would refrain from having a drink that evening. It worked. I drank a non alcoholic beer, we chatted and I was fine. I think I was fine because I knew that the next day I would be drinking, so no need to overdo it.
On the Saturday I went to the BBQ with my girlfriend. Mistake number 1, I took spirits and made a punch, I realised (naughty sub conscious probably knew) that I had no real idea how many units were in a glass of my punch. Then I switched to beer. I didn’t record my drinks on my phone app as planned and I realised that that was a stupid plan. How do you record each drink on a phone when in a social gathering? I learned a lesson, counting drinks needs to be done in a discrete way and not involving pulling out my phone. What I did do was to be aware of generally how much I was drinking so I started to drink water between some of my drinks. I also made a point of eating well so that I didn’t become drunk. I did end up drinking the equivalent of 2 bottles of wine but I did get to a point where I stopped drinking and I also left around 9.30 so I wouldn’t be tempted to resume.
I was dropped off home and whereas a few months ago I would have poured a large G and T, this time I didn’t. I knew I had drunk a fair bit but I was not drunk and I had stopped. I also congratulated myself on not having had any alcohol the night before. The next day I did have a few drinks later in the evening just to take the edge off a mild hangover. Overall the amount of alcohol I had consumed over the week was one of the smallest totals since I had started logging all my drinks.
I was never going to suddenly crack this moderation thing. It is a process and it will take time but I feel very positive about how things are going generally. Probably the single most important area of progress is my commitment to alcohol free days. I have managed to maintain 3 alcohol free days a week for the past month and it feels relatively easy.I know I will be having a drink at certain points in the week and this makes it easier to manage the alcohol free days. In fact I enjoy the alcohol free days. I enjoy cutting down and knowing that this will be good for my body. For me the equation is simple; if I want to continue drinking, then I have to cut down my overall intake.
Saturday didn’t work out quite as planned but then I will use that as a learning opportunity. Already I am thinking how to do the counting of alcohol units when drinking and socialising. I think I might use counters which I keep in one pocket and transfer a small counter to my other pocket every time I have a drink. Could work?
In the meantime I feel good about not drinking on Friday night and three other nights last week. I feel good about reducing the overall number of units consumed in a week. I feel good that I stopped drinking on Saturday and didn’t get drunk. Small but positive steps.
I also need to remind myself of something. For me alcohol is not the problem. It is my tendency to overindulge, to gorge myself whether that be alcohol or food. I fill myself, I stuff myself. That I need to understand and change. One thing I am determined to stop doing is giving myself a hard time over it. OK so I sometimes drink too much, I’ll make efforts to tackle that, I’m doing that. I’m doing OK. I also do really well at other things. I taught a pretty good set of lessons today, I beat my friend at table tennis yesterday and I sat and listened last night as a woman told me how she drank because she saw it a slow way to kill herself. Her life had become unbearable. My drinking is nothing like that and my life is thankfully one that still has possibilities. For that I am grateful.
This week I intend drinking very little and then next week comes the mother of all tests; a few days in Germany!