The Rules…

I got the idea for this post from member @citygirl. She wrote a fabulous update in the Members Feed when she reached her magnificent 110 days sober.

Here’s what she wrote: “Becoming sober has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am re-reading Mrs Ds book at the moment, after I read it the first time I had a period of moderation where my rules were: no more than one glass of red wine (don’t like red) per night and only after the kids went to bed. I was so happy that I was successfully moderating and that I wasn’t like Mrs D and that I didn’t have to give up totally. I did tell myself though that if I did go back I would have to get help. I had told myself that in the past but had just ignored it. I did eventually go back to a nightly bottle of white or copious G&Ts. One night after drinking wine out of a mug I decided enough was enough, I was ready and determined to save my life, a place I had never been before. I had worried for years about my drinking, hated the guilt, hated how I was when drinking, hated the money spent, hated the hangovers – there was so much to hate but for some reason I was never ready to face the reality that I had a problem and do something about it. This time was different, I joined this site, not entirely sure what would happen or what I would do. I saw that many members had given up entirely, and finally was honest with myself that I could not moderate and I needed to give up too. The first few weeks were horrible, I was grumpy, stressed and felt awful, but each day I knuckled through and day by day it got easier. I am so grateful for Mrs D for planting the sober seed, grateful that something inside me enabled me to stop and the seed was germinated and grateful for this community for watering and tending each and every day so that my sober seed may grow and flourish. X”

I love so much about her update. Her happiness at being sober, her honesty at how hard it was at first but how she slowly grew stronger, and her love our our very special community here at Living Sober.

But it was her mention of her moderation rules (“no more than one glass of red wine per night and only after the kids went to bed”) that really got me thinking. How many of us have had rules around our drinking…??!!! Setting ourselves limitations or boundaries that we had to abide by. Desperately trying to moderate and control our booze intake. I know I have.

I’d try to not drink on week nights. Except I’d convince myself that Thursday was ok because that’s the beginning of the weekend… it is isn’t it…???!!!

I’d try to not drink after the dinner mess was cleaned up. I’d tell myself that my wine glass had to go in the dishwasher with the plates and cutlery. My solution to that one would be to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r to tidy up the mess! Or leave it until the morning ha ha.

I’d tell myself I was only allowed to buy one bottle of wine for Mr D and I to share of an evening (and would get grumpy if he drank much at all). This one never stuck, often I’d run down the road (the bottle shop was close) to buy more once the first bottle had been finished. It was never enough…..

Oftentimes I’d try a mammoth ‘rule’ and take an entire month of drinking – to lower my tolerance I’d say. By week 3 I’d often be telling myself that was long enough.

Sigh. How exhausting.

Yet another marvellous aspect of getting sober = NO MORE RULES!!!!!

I don’t think ‘normal’ drinkers ever impose rules on themselves to attempt to moderate and control their intake. Just us boozers. What about you? What rules did you ever impose on yourself to try and control your booze?

  1. Joe 6 years ago

    Hi I am 113 days sober, the early days where hard but things got easier and my mood and self esteem improved, some days I even fealt euphoric but now I’m above a 100 days life is so dull and I miss a drink multiple times a day. Can anyone advice will I get that positivity back or do I have to find it deep inside. I do want to stop forever but my mind wonders more and more.

  2. TinaJeanne 9 years ago

    All of these comments are rich with feeling and the understanding of what we are all going through. Although I am only 32 days in and I have been wavering lately I feel a renewed desire to keep going. The rules are so hard to keep, especially after the first one. Although I cannot imagine being sober forever, I owe it to myself to continue , to get to those pink clouds, and enjoy the sober mornings and the reality of life minus all of the anxiety that seems to have disappeared.

  3. wuvmypug 9 years ago

    amazing to read these posts, helps so much to know what others went through..”the rules” ..boy is that familiar. Always worrying when going to an event etc. “am I gonna have enough time to sink in 4, 5 drinks before the movie/dinner/event or whatever was going on. Calls from family when I happened to be drunk and thinking “do I sound drunk” and trying to remember the conversation the next day and they continually say “don’t you remember, I told you that last nite” and I cant recall the details of the conversation. Its the small things like “wow its nice to not have the trash contain a million beer cans”. Embarrassing when u put out the trash and majority is beer cans..

  4. Ladyjudith 9 years ago

    I have completely lost my drive to stop! I have now sourced a very nice brand which costs half and have set the rule ‘no wine after dinner’ but I know I wont stick to it. I’m now sneaking in a 30min nap around 2pm each day….needing some striking words of wisdom to jolt me back to the headspace where I can start with a blank canvas again.

    • absolute76 9 years ago

      LadyJudith it sounds exhausting having to plan your nightly drinking ahead and ‘sneak in’ naps…it may not seem like it now, but man is life easier and a whole heap less stressful without all those rules and all that sneaking.

  5. Momentsofgrace 9 years ago

    Ouch! This was hard to read!! I’m definitely still of the hope that I can learn to moderate but reading this post and all the comments has obviously made me doubt (not for the first time) whether it’s possible. I’m acutely aware that I’m probably just earlier in the “journey” than all of you and need to try moderating, and probably fail at it, beofre I can bring myself to give the wine up completely.

    BUT, I have to say I do know heaps of people who have rules around drinking (nearly everyone I know has the no drinking during the week rule) and I honestly don’t think they are secret problem drinkers.

    So for now, I’m going to stick to my plan (ok, “rule” !) of two glasses of red wine on fridays and saturdays. As I’ve said before, if I can’t manage it, I’ll be the first to admit it on here and join the abstaining club!

    Love this place – thanks again Mrs D for another challenging post.

    • SC 9 years ago

      Hey, for what it’s worth, I agree with you. Normal drinkers have plenty of rules around their drinking. Not drinking during the work week is a big one, as is stopping at a healthy limit, or not driving after two, or waiting until the kids are put to bed and the big responsibilities of the day have ended.

      It’s just that those rules for them are so practiced as to be nearly unconscious, and are probably also coming from a place of “let’s think ahead and make good decisions,” not a place of shame and fear.

      People who are cutting down from a lot of drinking to just a little will have their new rules in the forefront of their thinking, precisely because the rules are new. It takes a lot of brainspace to change a new habit, at least at first.

      It’s like people who go from eating a bunch of crappy fast food and snacking all day to eating healthfully. There will be a period of time where they have to actively tell themselves, “No, I’ll pass on a second brownie,” or “I’ve had enough trail mix.”

      Again, the biggest difference, in my opinion, in whether a rule-making behavior is disordered or not, is whether the rules are coming from a positive, healthy place, or a negative, shameful one.

  6. GetBusyLiving 9 years ago

    Rules were made to be broken and usually pretty swiftly. A month without drinking? Pfft broken within two days. I NEVER thought I could actually go a month without drinking. Usually if I set a rule it would see me double my intake – the inner booze bitch would take swift revenge for any silly notions of cutting down or quitting!

    • tourmaline 9 years ago

      Totally get this.
      Can I ask: what was the difference for you between giving up for two days vs actually making it past those two days?

  7. ClearRainbow 9 years ago

    Oh the rules I could not keep!
    So demoralizing.
    So hopeless..

    No drinking during the week.
    OK No drinking wine – can have 2 scotch and waters a night….
    No I don’t really like scotch – let’s have some wine.

    Only two glasses of wine when I go out and drive home…Ok I’ll have 3.

    Only 3-4 at a party – until I get home or they all leave – then a couple more to relax….

    On vacation – only 2 at lunch —- 4 pm can drink again now right?
    Never able to keep my promises to myself.
    So glad that is not the rule of the day today.

  8. KAM 9 years ago

    I had many of the same rules. Of course the most common was no drinking during the week. But that meant kn Saturday after my morning work out and making breakfast for the family, I would have breakfast cocktails. Then I would make lunch and have more cocktails. Oh and after that, it was time to prepare dinner so that meant wine. And after dinner and the kid is down…its my bring on the VODKA and WHISKEY. I cant and wont lie to myself…I’m not at the point where I can say “I don’t miss it”. I’m still very early on at this. What I don’t miss is trying to figure out why I woke up to several text messages from different folks saying ˝are you ok…you didn’t sound yourself˝ or my son reminding me that I was ˝taking a nap˝ when he needed me. Right now, my desire to be a better mom to him because he certainly deserves it and a better wife to my amazing husband because he certainly deserves it and a better ME to ME because I certainly deserve it…far outweighs my desire to drink.

  9. Finny 9 years ago

    Stephen King puts it quite nicely in his book “on writing” telling an alcoholic to control their drinking is like telling someone with the worlds most cataclysmic case of diarrhea to control their shitting.

  10. Soberlinda 9 years ago

    I relate to the red wine — my rule was drinking alcohol I didn’t like — that way I would drink less of it. Much easier not to drink at all — 39 days today.

    • ali 9 years ago

      39 is more than the rule not to drink for a month, you’re past that and a boozy one it could have been too. I never found anything I didn’t like except the RTD, the fact is if it had alcohol I liked it. I said to my bro and s.i.l the other day, I don’t think I ever really liked anything except Bombay Saphire and Soda, but I wasn’t drinking for the taste, I was drinking for the affect of the alcohol, the more the better.
      As time went on the main rule was don’t get caught, put on a bright face in the morning and don’t ask any questions cos I had usually asked then the night before, same with retelling an event. So much more relaxing now.

  11. Jhall 9 years ago

    My rules…I still can’t believe that everyone does not set rules…that has been huge news to me. Is everyone still sure that normal drinkers don’t have rules???

    1. No drinking during the week.
    2. Only drink after kids are in bed.
    3. No more than 2 drinks on the weekend (I could NEVER do this.)
    4. No buying alcohol at home.
    5. Only drinking when out to dinner.
    6. Only drinking at social events.

    Uggghhh…This sounds so dumb when I write it out!!!

    • KAM 9 years ago

      I tried no buying alcohol at home because that’s when I’m the worse because I don’t have to drive and I can crawl to my bed. But the problem is my husband drinks without any problems or dependency like me. So I would slowly sneak his drink of choice from the bar. That definitely didn’t work for me.

  12. lifewithoutvodkarocks 9 years ago

    I did all those things, too…. No drinking during the week, nothing to drink after a martini (because then I got sloppy and slurry), promised myself I’d quit if I ever had another blackout (ha)…. Constantly bargaining with myself and then dealing with the negative mental diatribe every time I broke a promise to myself. One of the best things about being 164 days sober is the peace of mind I enjoy now! So so so worth the shaky, teary days in the beginning, trying to figure out how to fill the huge hole booze left in my life.

    Hugs to everyone on this journey – we are AWESOME!

  13. Jose 9 years ago

    All of the above so so true ! I am happier, more transparent, more authentic, more honest with myself, true to myself and so proud of myself – 555 days sober and loving my life! Gosh it was hard early on but it would be so much harder to go back and try to moderate – can’t pretend I could anymore. Loving the positivity being sober gives me and the clarity of thought and the feeling of wellness and the ability to be present and face my emotions the good and bad ones and not drown them in an alcoholic blurr!

    • bombay 9 years ago

      Well done you – 555 days! I love being sober too. No more internal battles and rules!

  14. Rosieoutlook 9 years ago

    All of the above!It brought a tear to my eye forgetting how exhausting it used to be. Xx

  15. Schooseslife 9 years ago

    I just love the fact that, within the rule of only one glass of red once the kids are in bed, @citygirl says she doesn’t actually like red ! Only problem drinkers would impose such a rule !!! Life is so much more free and fun now that there are no rules, no limits, no procrastination. I am SO SO happy to be free of that alcohol related P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N !!!!

  16. Alyce 9 years ago

    I remember just before I gave up for good, I was about to go for a camping trip. Packing up the car, trying to squeeze everything in….I remember very clearly wondering how many bottles of wine I should buy ahead to make sure I would have enough for my trip to the middle of nowhere. Would 6 be enough….what if it wasnt? I was going on holiday…surely I was justified in having plenty to enjoy? If I did run out where would I be able to get more? I might not be able to drive if I started drinking early in the day? And surely thats ok because I would be on holiday?
    Then the other part of my brain arguing…this is ridiculous… its only me drinking… 6 bottles not enough? What would anyone think if they saw the bottles? What one earth will my daughter think?
    I cant really afford to be buying all this wine…. the reason I am camping is to save money….
    Exhausting inner turmoil…back and forth…
    so that holiday… quite unexpectedly I stopped…
    Day 170 today

  17. madandsad 9 years ago

    Before I knew that I totally had to stop consuming alcohol, I too tried to moderate, as in just drink less. That shouldn’t be so hard to do, right? Wrong! It was hard to do, seemingly impossible, actually, and as I drowned myself deeper in guilt, anxiousness, misery and finally a very real health scare, I just knew I had to quit.

    The early weeks were incredibly hard – the not sleeping, the real withdrawal symptoms, the tears, headaches, the “why me?” questions… hideous stuff.
    I remember wanting to buy your book, Lotta, and our local bookshop had it but we live in a small town and I just felt too ashamed to purchase it. That felt so awful. I did manage to buy it, a few weeks later when I was feeling a little stronger.

    Now, nearly 6 months later, I do feel a true sense of freedom. No longer stacking the supermarket trolly with wine bottles and not even thinking about buying alcohol now. I really do love that. I also love the fact that I know I can go anywhere now and do not have to think “will there be wine there”, will I be able to get wine” etc – honestly that gives me a whole new freedom that I really can’t find the right words for.

    I am grateful, so grateful to be getting my life back xxx

    • bombay 9 years ago

      So true and nicely said. Freedom from the panic if there is not enough. Freedom from not having to worry about your drinking. Thanks

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