No great angst or earth-shaking tremors here today. I'm just pleased that 4 weeks ago, I walked through the park to the good wine store, not the one right around the corner, and everything except that walk in the park felt wrong, and then, despite the full bottle of one of my favourite wines still in the cupboard, the next morning I announced to my partner that I was starting another Spa Week. I knew at the time I was probably quitting for a lot longer than that, or for good, but starting with the week is just easier for me. I'm so glad I did that. The four weeks haven't been easy, but I think I'm heading in the right direction.
This time around, I'm noticing a strange contradiction in my experience. In any given instance, not drinking is, for me, not so difficult. I know how to do that. But theoretically, not drinking is a huge challenge. The reasons why I should drink, when I can again, why it's OK now, how in some circumstances it might be the best thing, all those bits of mental chatter carry on in the background a lot of the time. It's like living in a nice, quiet apartment right next door to party central. I want to bang on the door and yell, "Can't you just be quiet in there for a while?" but there is no door to bang on. There's just me, both sides of the imaginary door, and me yelling at me isn't going to quiet anything down. Some time early this morning, before I'd even got out of bed, I found myself calmly thinking that the language of addiction was just too draconian for me to accept, and I would probably go ahead and have a glass of champagne when I finish my degree. I mean, honestly. Anticipating celebrating the end of a degree that I haven't even finished yet, and putting distance between myself and what I know to be working for me at the same time, all before the day even starts!
The thing is, I'm paying attention to these thoughts. I'm trying to use the infamous zen advice about unwanted thoughts: weed early and weed often. Right now I'm reading a lot about the psychology of habit. Despite our emphasis on our bad habits here in the online sober (or-trying-to-be-sober) world, we are all built up out of our habits. Some are good and some not, and we can change them bit by bit, but habits are what we are to a large extent. So even though it's not that hard for me to not drink today, in one sense that's only the surface of the habit. The rest of it is all that submerged, semi-conscious way of living that associates booze with celebration, and that hates (hates! hates!) admitting that I have any kind of problem that I can't just wish away. I want so much to not have a problem with drinking, to be able to just will it away. I can spend far too much time living as if the mental were the world, but that's a false picture of life. I'm starting, learning, to have a healthy respect for the body. Maybe that's what the advice "just don't drink today" means. Just doing that, day after day, maybe that's the training camp for the new habit. Maybe, after a while, after I keep on not drinking day after day after day, and after I keep on offering a calm, "No, we don't do that anymore" to the chattering party-mind that's looking to the future champagne, the new habit will be more solid, and I'll have fewer of those thoughts. I'm pretty sure I can't will my problem away, no matter how strong-willed I am. But I can change what I do, and make room for the newer thoughts that support it. That's how I'm building a new habit, and that seems like good work to be doing.
I'm not at all sure that makes sense to anyone besides me. But this will: this time around, I decided to open a new bank account. For every day I didn't drink, I would put $10 in it--a modest estimate of what I would have been spending on booze, but it's an easy number to calculate. I'm not sure what I will do with it, but I don't even get to decide until my first goal (3 months, or 13 weeks) is up. As of today, I really do have a growing little fund of $280 (and ten cents interest!), money taken away from something I know is certainly not good for me, to put toward some future thing that is. Hooray for that!
If you're still here, thanks for reading along. Good luck feeding your new habits and weeding out bits that remain of the ones you don't want anymore. Peace and joy and big Monday sunshine to you!