Thursday 9 March 2017

Day 8. The "why can't you just quit" solution

The truth about willpower
This is me on the morning of my 50th birthday. hungover as fuck, i'd had a fantastic night on my birthday eve. One of the best in my life but the next morning.....oh lordy me. Janijans woke up feeling like she had spent the night on the jizzler.
Day 8 requires me to really take a good hard look at myself and the practices I have been doing which I realise have not been benefiting me. We are learning about willpower and my old motto was I will power through this drink and the next drink like I am Will Power trying to win his next race.

Willpower is described in the book in a couple of different ways, but the one that resonates is this. "Willpower is trying very hard to not do something that you want to do very much" I can relate. Because so many times when I woke up feeling like crap, I looked at myself in the mirror and went girlfriend, give that shit up, is this how you want to feel? But the willpower just wasn't there. I might have a day or so not drinking, but then, how I felt would be replaced, by oh, i'll just have a little bit of wine, i'll be fine. and what do you know, I just got another token to ride the merry-go-round that is zero willpower but 100% knowing full well that what I was doing didn't match the action I wanted to take.
So today, I tackle the question - why can't I just quit? And I don't even consider myself a problem drinker. Willpower will only sustain us for a short period of time, unless we have done deeper and more profound work to support this and today we address this very thing. I don't even make new year resolutions, but I know a lot of people who do and by day 2, they have gone out the window. (just to clarify, I am talking about the resolution going out the window, not the person).

The simple fact is that when we have a really painful experience in relation to drinking or something else - eating, drugs, etc, the pain far outweighs the desire that comes with the pleasure of drinking. So we stop for a little bit. As that pain starts to subside, we remember the pleasure that comes from a few drinks and as the painful incident goes further and further from our mind, the pleasure factor takes over and so we ditch our desire not to drink and before you know it, you've poured a glass of wine even with that "what the fuck are you doing" voice yelling at us from the inside. We continue on with the same pattern until we have another painful moment. Ca-ching. There's another token to ride the merry-go-round. And Ca-ching, I have had another "AHA" moment.

Our theme today is willpower and we have acknowledged our progress thus far. We grasp the concept of willpower and that not drinking shouldn't feel like a curse, or that there won't be fun in our life if we don't drink, but will give us more freedom than we could ever imagine. I debriefed on the pain/pleasure balance, we learn to understand what excessive alcohol can cost us personally and professionally.  We have to change our thinking about comparing ourselves to others with a similar problem and thinking that we are different.  I hear the same story about people like me who come home at night, down a few drinks and accept that it's the norm. And I acknowledge that what I am doing is the same as so many other people all across the world, but now I choose and want to be different. 

So how do we manage this willpower issue.....well, go get some popcorn, cause we are about to watch a movie. 

I'm just going to dim the lights and get undressed, cause I am about to bare part of my soul. In this chapter I get a clearer picture of who I am by having me be the star of my own life movie, only the actress isn't reading a script, it is actually my life. 

We were asked today to think about a movie where you get so engrossed with the story line that you can see disaster unfolding and begin yelling at the screen telling the character not to do something that you can so obviously see is going to end in disaster.   Now it's time for me to have my movie moment and watch disaster unfold.

I am sharing this as an honest account of my journey and with the big girl pants on again today. I am open to sharing because I know, that there are other people like me, who are going through the same journey and it's okay, but it has required commitment and a desire to want to change this habit.

 You can't get wet reading about the ocean
and you can't get dry reading about sobriety.

Action 1. Write the role that willpower has played in cutting back or quitting drinking
Willpower doesn't seem to have helped me at all to cut down drinking in the past.  I've woken feeling so hungover (usually on the weekends) and vowed not to drink knowing full well the damage I have done to my health.  I acknowledge it and yet i didn't change it. The feeling of wanting to vomit, being lethargic, having a headache sucks, struggling to get out of bed.  Having those feelings continue throughout the day also sucks, not to mention the waste of the time when I could be doing something more enjoyable with my time, rather than passing it feeling crap due to self induced actions. (the thought of that feeling now gives me shivers and makes me feel sick).  I would have some alcohol free days, but revert to having a drink because I felt okay and those horrible feelings have passed - however, had they not passed, Id usually back up again. I'm fortunate that I don't believe I have had any relationships affected, because as I said before I am the same person sober as I am drunk.  I have fun, get silly and then go to sleep. So willpower hasn't worked because it was just not clicking in my mind that i could, until now. 

Action 2. Capture your movie moment.  
What might I or someone else scream at the screen if they were watching me as the main character in my movie. What is upsetting or frustrating? And I want to acknowledge that this was my night time habit.  I am not going to call it a ritual, but it was routine.

In my movie, I/they would be bothered by the following:
* that I never seem to have a glass that is empty. (girl, you should pace yourself)
* that I can nearly drink a bottle of wine in a night (girl, get a life)
*that sometimes early in the night i might be feeling quite tipsy, if i decided to pour a glass of wine not long after getting home from work (girl, your day hasn't been that tough, why not do something else and save your glass of wine and really enjoy it)
*that i would wake up feeling crap and it would affect my day.  (girl, you all be wasting your time in bed when it's your weekend.  Your 2 days off after working all week, and this is how you want to spend them)  
* that i would worry about what i would do if i ran out of wine.  I'd need to ensure i had a back up bottle just in case - the break in case of emergency bottle). (girl, aint y'all had enough)
*that sometimes i would go to bed and when i woke up, not realise how much i may have drunk in a night. I'ts really easy to drink a bottle of wine over the course of the evening. Is it smart. No. Is it good for me. No. Am i gonna get a lecture from my mother tomorrow...probably. (girl, you are one dumbo).
So i am bothered that the person who watched my movie says that the star is not living the best life possible in regards to her behaviour, especially compared to the other aspects of her life where she shines so brightly.  The viewer thinks i am damaging my body, not using my time wisely, not setting a good example.  They said that it was scary to watch me wake up on some occasions and not know what the tipping point of enough alcohol and too much had been. This isn't an oscar winning perfomace, it's a rotten tomato.... or more like a rotten grape. 

If you have stayed on reading, then i want you to understand that this has been a really confronting movie to watch and share and i actually feel quite emotional writing about it.  Don't worry, no tissues have been harmed in the making, but i feel a bit annoyed at myself for being that person.  However, this process has been fascinating and is giving me more personal growth.

Action 3. Avoid decision fatigue.
Here we have to list things that you can do when the willpower starts to drop and you feel like you want a drink.  This is usually at the end of the day when you would normally have a drink as part of your evening routine. Here's my suggestions: 
  1. enjoy some sleep and relax tea
  2. practice my ukulele
  3. review my notes and reasons of what i used to do
  4. review my notes and reasons why i am making this great life choice
  5. do some meditation
  6. take a bubble bath
  7. sit on my balcony
  8. water my garden
  9. phone a friend
  10. do something creative, do something different
  11. why not blog about the journey......
Action 4. Stop comparing yourself
We had to ask ourself the following. Do we regularly comment internally on other people's drinking habits? Do you believe that you do not have a problem like theirs? Do you regularly compare yourself to others, because they appear to have or you want to reassure yourself that what you have is better?

We need to only not worry about what others are doing.

There's a lot going on today, but it really has been a defining moment in terms of going forward.
So this is how i felt and that was how i looked. 
still not 100% - sick and really tired
8.30pm i really would love a glass of wine but am having soda water and tea
i revist my notes - such a reinforcing read
It was a really stressful day.  My son had two really terrible days and this was very upsetting to watch and know how to support, but tomorrow's another day and we'll see what washes up with the tide. Hopefully it will be a refund on all the empty wine bottles i returned to be recycled.

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