1 Year Drinking Wagon Challenge for 2014

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
Two days ago, I completed 6 years on the wagon. 6 years is roughly half the time I spent as a drunk. I wonder if I will change much going forward as I ride this wagon out, but it is safe to say a lot of the old me is pretty far in the rear-view mirror.

Sometimes, I can vividly remember that past part of my life. I can almost conjure up the vomiting, diarrhea and depression of the hangovers. The sense of "normalcy" I felt when I had my first drink in the morning. The random sharp pangs of pain coming from my liver. The brief and fleeting sensation that my anxiety and fears were gone forever after the first few drinks. The shame and confusion of what I did or said the night before.

Looking back, it feels like madness that I put myself through that when the negative effects of alcohol were so apparent.

I wanted to bring up a useful way of thinking that can be applied to guys looking to get sober. Charlie Munger, of Berkshire Hathaway, has a brilliant mind and he has educated people to think about things in mental models. Mental models are ways of thinking that helps us more efficiently understand the world around us. One of my favorites is the inversion mental model, which is a way of thinking about what you want in reverse. Essentially, instead of thinking about what you want, try to think about all the things you don't want.

To better illustrate this mental model, try to imagine a fat guy who wants to lose weight. Instead of thinking about the best ways to exercise and eat better, what he really should do is focus on what he needs to avoid. By simply avoiding eating the wrong foods and avoiding sloth he is going to get results. Obviously, he can fine tune an optimal diet and exercise program going forward, but he would simply stop being a fat person if he developed habits of avoiding what made him fat.

Here is how I would apply this model of inversion to a drunk on the fence about getting sober. The first issue is that they often have part of their identity wrapped around being a drinker, which would create a level of uncertainty about what a sober life would be for them. They would also struggle to mentally let go of the "benefits" they get from drinking since they don't fully examine all the negatives it causes. Such a person, should avoid thinking about drinking altogether, and get a pen and paper out and write down all the things they do not like about their life. A seasoned drinker will likely create a list which will include general fatigue, being in bad shape , poor sleep, irritability and depression in the morning, periodic embarrassment, etc... By writing down all the things they don't like about their life, an honest reflection upon looking at the issues would demonstrate drinking to be at the root of much of their problems.

In my drunk years, I had many moments where I wanted to get sober. I would often think about what a sober me would be like and my mind would ponder about what kind of person this hypothetical new me would become. Would I make more money, have better relationships, be in great shape? I was fantasying about assumptions about a future me that did not exist, and perhaps that is why that way of thinking didn't do the trick. It was too uncertain and unknowable for me to be motivated enough to get sober by thinking that way. I would have been better served if I had just thought inversely and considered all of the large and subtle things which were negatively impacting my life that would go away if I stopped drinking. I hope guys out there reading this considering the wagon will take the challenge to think inversely and examine all the things they do not like about their life. If you were like me, the common source of your problems is likely caused by hitting the sauce.

Sign me up for year 7.

Thank you for this excellent post, bacon. Indeed, we spend far too much time in useless speculation about a future that we have no ability to predict or imagine, whether it be a future self or future society. And because these attempts to conjure up a future that we have no relation to are so feeble, so spectral and devoid of any meat or even bones, they gain no traction within our minds and do little to influence our behavior. What we can do in the present is to make a reckoning of the habits that form its daily fabric, and set about removing the ones that do damage to our bodies and brains and replacing them with ones that heal and protect us instead. In this way, we keep our minds and hearts ready and open to the unforeseeable chances that an unknowable future may bring -- and that openness to life in all its variety is all that any of us can ask for.

I'm delighted to note that you are now more than halfway into the first decade of your wagon -- it's a serious milestone and one that deserves a solemn nod of congratulation. I think back to those days in 2014 when it was all up in the air, and the difference that your decision has made and continues to make -- it's enough to take one's breath away if you really stop and think about it. Welcome back aboard for year 7 as of May 24, 2020, and I look forward to hearing more from you in this thread as time goes on.
 
After already seeing the early compounding of benefits from only being 5 months in, I can't imagine what 6 years would do. If you could graph the possibilities of your life from this point forward on a 3D map using some sort of X Y Z metrics of success, there's no doubt that the compounding benefits of this one decision can put your new endpoint in a whole different sphere. It's like playing Chutes and Ladders, but from this single decision you've decreased the number and length of the chutes and increased the ladders.

Good post bacon.
 
I already got away from alcohol several years ago.
What did help me a lot was attending support groups, but it also seems to me that that peer pressure towards alcohol got considerably weaker during the last decade.
The first twelve months without booze i found to be the hardest.
After that, the craving for alcoholic beverages was basically gone for me.
 

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
1000 days under my belt today. A milestone I've been looking forward to... I think it's reasonable to argue my life has improved tenfold - 1000%, quite the return on investment!

That's truly great to hear, rdvirus -- please keep it up! I remember your first posts way back in the beginning of this thread, and here you are almost 7 years later with 1000 days under your belt and a tenfold better life. Brings a big smile to my face. :)
 

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
I'm so ashamed. My new date for joining the wagon is 15th July 2020.

Let go of that shame, Horus -- you've burned with it long enough, too long. You need to relax in your life and relax into your life. You might think that a wagon is a strange context in which to relax, but it's not; it demands nothing from you except to show up each day, and you can always show up, like an old postman in a small dusty town shows up to get his mailbag and trudge along his route to make the deliveries. Let the intensity of emotion wash over you when it does, but always be letting it go; hold on to the one modest discipline of the wagon while always forgiving yourself every supposed failure with the merest shrug. If you can embrace these not very mysterious paradoxes you'll be all right and, in time, much better than all right. You'll see one day.

Welcome aboard as of July 15, 2020 and I hope to hear more from you on this thread as time goes on.
 
Stopped drinking alcohol heavily as of Christmas this past year.
I'll have the occasional beer every 2-3 weeks with a meal, but i don't touch more than 1 or 2. Haven't gotten drunk since then.
 

etwsake

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Stopped drinking alcohol heavily as of Christmas this past year.
I'll have the occasional beer every 2-3 weeks with a meal, but i don't touch more than 1 or 2. Haven't gotten drunk since then.

Your point is?

Do you go to the "no masturbating" thread and post that you jerk off once or twice a day every few weeks or so?
 

mojo

Pigeon
The main thing I noticed from quitting drinking is that it was a lifestyle.
  • Evenings spent in a giddy haze.
  • Slouching with other drinkers, making crass jokes and watching random sports.
  • Nursing the hangover...wasting the morning.
One day I woke up and realized...
  • I was striving toward nothing.
  • No project, no goals, no substance in conversations.
  • Not pursuing mastery in anything, no real hobbies, living for social acceptance.
Quitting was easy once that realization struck.
But the first year after quitting is the hardest because you are back in the void.

To gradually fill that void with new positive devotions is the ultimate Masculinity.

***

This documentary, called "The Demise and Rise of Steve-O" (mtv) shows the process well.
Especially the part from 36 minutes until the end (the sober part).

He completely kicks his self-destruction lifestyle, and replaces it with a skateboard lifestyle.
He has a new group of friends, and is finally feeling real honest joy again.


Success comes with a total commitment to new missions that feel inspired, healthy, and good.
A fresh, new life.
 
One day I woke up and realized...
  • I was striving toward nothing.
  • No project, no goals, no substance in conversations.
  • Not pursuing mastery in anything, no real hobbies, living for social acceptance.
Quitting was easy once that realization struck.
But the first year after quitting is the hardest because you are back in the void.

That's really the core of what has let me enjoy these 7+ months on the wagon. Once you see a spade for a spade and *truly* realize it has a large net negative on the life you're living and want to live, it is really straightforward and I would personally say "easy" to just avoid it.

I find something like coffee to be much more difficult, because the connection between overuse and the negatives in your life are more opaque. I truly do enjoy the taste, the meditative ritual of preparation, and it does give me a boost when I need to step up in my job (software/platform engineer).

Nevertheless, finding these connections and acting upon them to create your own world is a very masculine thing. To do otherwise is to let the world dictate too much to you and create boundaries on you, which you could say is more of the feminine essence.

After 1 year, I still don't know what to do. I could imagine maturing into the 1-2 beer/wine/spritz as a rare treat thing. Which if truly enacted, I don't think is a problem at all. Even this one year will give enough perspective to avoid the slippery slope... but you never know.
 

Charlemagne In Sweatpants

Robin
Gold Member
5 years sober for me today. What a bizarre stretch of 365 days. There were a lot of challenges and firsts for me: I traveled internationally for the first time off the sauce; there was a goddamn global pandemic; ongoing race riots in the US; my wife and I welcomed our first child (a beautiful but wild baby boy) into the world right as the world got crazy.

I'm one of those people who can only focus on a few things at a time, and with almost all of my attention directed at my growing family, work, and an inescapable series of current events, I haven't had a chance to step back and really reflect on how I'm feeling about everything--including the wagon. Not having a commute trimmed off about 2 hours of daily time that I used to spend thinking about shit. Nevertheless, there are two things that I'd like to share.

1.) The pandemic reminded me of the year that I spent between wagons back in 2015. It was by far the most pathetic time of my life and the worst my boozing ever was. I pretty much lived with self-imposed restrictions similar to a COVID lockdown. I didn't leave my shitty apartment. I called out sick often. I worked remote whenever I could (or just wiggled my mouse every 10 minutes or so while pounding Tito's and watching YouTube). I didn't see family or friends. The only meals I ate were ancient frozen dinners that were long-forgotten in my freezer. As I get further away from that time and my life continues to deepen and improve, I still need the occasional reminder about how bad things were for me. That was a big reminder.

2.) I'm very lucky to have family and friends who have had my back and supported me every step of the way on this thing. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have that, so I am grateful. Having a baby added another layer of appreciation for my parents, and helped me to understand how my behavior affected them. When our son is fussy or upset or seems like he's in pain, my wife and I want to do whatever we can as parents to make him feel better and be happy. Now extrapolate that level of concern for several decades. I try to imagine my child pissing away his 20's -- really struggling -- and I consider how difficult it must have been for my parents to see me blackout drunk at weddings, getting calls from hospitals whenever I got transported, wiring me money every time I lost my wallet in some god forsaken place. They gave me a long leash with this shit, and I think they understood that family interventions would only get them so far. In the end, I needed to buy into the wagon and truly want to get my life back together. I've done that, and I'm going to keep this thing rolling. It's been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

Sign me up for number 6.
 

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
5 years sober for me today. What a bizarre stretch of 365 days. There were a lot of challenges and firsts for me: I traveled internationally for the first time off the sauce; there was a goddamn global pandemic; ongoing race riots in the US; my wife and I welcomed our first child (a beautiful but wild baby boy) into the world right as the world got crazy.

I'm one of those people who can only focus on a few things at a time, and with almost all of my attention directed at my growing family, work, and an inescapable series of current events, I haven't had a chance to step back and really reflect on how I'm feeling about everything--including the wagon. Not having a commute trimmed off about 2 hours of daily time that I used to spend thinking about shit. Nevertheless, there are two things that I'd like to share.

1.) The pandemic reminded me of the year that I spent between wagons back in 2015. It was by far the most pathetic time of my life and the worst my boozing ever was. I pretty much lived with self-imposed restrictions similar to a COVID lockdown. I didn't leave my shitty apartment. I called out sick often. I worked remote whenever I could (or just wiggled my mouse every 10 minutes or so while pounding Tito's and watching YouTube). I didn't see family or friends. The only meals I ate were ancient frozen dinners that were long-forgotten in my freezer. As I get further away from that time and my life continues to deepen and improve, I still need the occasional reminder about how bad things were for me. That was a big reminder.

2.) I'm very lucky to have family and friends who have had my back and supported me every step of the way on this thing. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have that, so I am grateful. Having a baby added another layer of appreciation for my parents, and helped me to understand how my behavior affected them. When our son is fussy or upset or seems like he's in pain, my wife and I want to do whatever we can as parents to make him feel better and be happy. Now extrapolate that level of concern for several decades. I try to imagine my child pissing away his 20's -- really struggling -- and I consider how difficult it must have been for my parents to see me blackout drunk at weddings, getting calls from hospitals whenever I got transported, wiring me money every time I lost my wallet in some god forsaken place. They gave me a long leash with this shit, and I think they understood that family interventions would only get them so far. In the end, I needed to buy into the wagon and truly want to get my life back together. I've done that, and I'm going to keep this thing rolling. It's been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

Sign me up for number 6.

CIS, congrats on year number 5 -- and congrats on your first child. The wagon has given you a life that is not the horror life of a drunk -- a horror that, as you now realize, spreads to all that know and care about him and poisons their lives with its ugliness. As a very great song says about this, the smell of death surrounds you -- but that smell clings to you no longer, you've been saved from it. What can be more beautiful.

Welcome back aboard for year number 6 as of September 24, 2020 and I look forward to hearing more from you here as time goes on.
 

komatiite

Pelican
Gold Member
Wow, Congrats to you Charlemagne!! I still remember your hilarious post about that super crazy rehab Center you went to with the vomit room! That is absolutely epic that you have a baby, what an inspiring turnaround story from where you were several years ago! Thanks for sharing, you are one of my favourite posters on this thread due to your honesty and humility.

I freaking never post here anymore but I’ll try to more often now, but I also hit year 5 on August 5 And I plan to keep it going! Life is going very good for me for the most part as well, and I credit it all to quitting drinking. I have a wonderful girlfriend who I do hope to marry and start a family with, time will tell on that, and still fortunate to be working in a job that, although has been discouraging (oil and gas) in the last six months, I’ll remain optimistic that one day it will turn around and I’ll have the opportunity to make some serious dough. Knock on wood! For me, committing myself over the last few years to work has been absolutely huge, and I’m grateful for all of the interesting people I’ve met, places I’ve gone, and things I have learned. Sometimes I wished that I had picked up more hobbies with all the free time I’ve had in the last few years ever since I shook the grip drinking has had on me, but at least work has given me a purpose and has served as a great motivator to not slip up. I just can’t imagine living a life where half of my energy is focused on either recovering from the night before or dreaming of the next 5 o’clock cocktail hour.

I hope anyone who is thinking about getting on the wagon gives it a shot. To me, there are two types of people who drink: those who can stop after one or two beers and move on with their lives, or those who just cannot... I remember almost always stopping at the liquor store to buy more booze after I had a couple drinks with friends. They would all go home as if nothing happened, meanwhile if I didn’t continue drinking I’d dwell about it the rest of the day, just dying of discomfort in my own skin. If you can relate to that, then maybe the wagon is worth it for you. If you’re concerned about losing friends, don’t worry, because as you get older, you’ll just drift apart from people as your priorities change naturally, it’s nothing to be concerned about. And with girls, yes some find it weird, but those aren’t the kind of girls you want to be with anyways. Trust me, many won’t care at all. As you become more confident in your decision to quit drinking, some girls that respect guys who have their shit together will almost gravitate towards that.

thanks to LoZ for starting this thread, it’s undoubtedly made my life better! And good luck to all who are on the wagon now, or are even just considering it!
 

FactusIRX

Kingfisher
My father is an an alcoholic. I've tried to ask him to stop drinking, but he won't listen. The strange thing is as someone from the outside, it is so clear to me how alcohol has destroyed everything in his life, and will continue to destroy him until he dies. But, when I talk to him, he defends alcohol like it's his first born son. It's such a parasitic relationship, where the thing that is killing him is the thing he defends with the most fervor.
 

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
Wow, Congrats to you Charlemagne!! I still remember your hilarious post about that super crazy rehab Center you went to with the vomit room! That is absolutely epic that you have a baby, what an inspiring turnaround story from where you were several years ago! Thanks for sharing, you are one of my favourite posters on this thread due to your honesty and humility.

I freaking never post here anymore but I’ll try to more often now, but I also hit year 5 on August 5 And I plan to keep it going! Life is going very good for me for the most part as well, and I credit it all to quitting drinking. I have a wonderful girlfriend who I do hope to marry and start a family with, time will tell on that, and still fortunate to be working in a job that, although has been discouraging (oil and gas) in the last six months, I’ll remain optimistic that one day it will turn around and I’ll have the opportunity to make some serious dough. Knock on wood! For me, committing myself over the last few years to work has been absolutely huge, and I’m grateful for all of the interesting people I’ve met, places I’ve gone, and things I have learned. Sometimes I wished that I had picked up more hobbies with all the free time I’ve had in the last few years ever since I shook the grip drinking has had on me, but at least work has given me a purpose and has served as a great motivator to not slip up. I just can’t imagine living a life where half of my energy is focused on either recovering from the night before or dreaming of the next 5 o’clock cocktail hour.

I hope anyone who is thinking about getting on the wagon gives it a shot. To me, there are two types of people who drink: those who can stop after one or two beers and move on with their lives, or those who just cannot... I remember almost always stopping at the liquor store to buy more booze after I had a couple drinks with friends. They would all go home as if nothing happened, meanwhile if I didn’t continue drinking I’d dwell about it the rest of the day, just dying of discomfort in my own skin. If you can relate to that, then maybe the wagon is worth it for you. If you’re concerned about losing friends, don’t worry, because as you get older, you’ll just drift apart from people as your priorities change naturally, it’s nothing to be concerned about. And with girls, yes some find it weird, but those aren’t the kind of girls you want to be with anyways. Trust me, many won’t care at all. As you become more confident in your decision to quit drinking, some girls that respect guys who have their shit together will almost gravitate towards that.

thanks to LoZ for starting this thread, it’s undoubtedly made my life better! And good luck to all who are on the wagon now, or are even just considering it!

Damn, the FIVES are really starting to pile up in this thread, each and every nickel feeling thick, solid, tight. I've been wondering since early August when you would show up to report for wagon duty, komatiite; not at all worried, however -- just mildly wondering but having no real doubt that you've stayed the course and are doing fine.

It's funny -- when one gets into the groove of a good, normal life it can be hard to understand what it is that one has been spared; what the difference, which is a difference in kind, really amounts to. The good and normal life is busy and absorbing, and there is little room in it for a pointed recollection of the life beset by darkness; one nods at the difference and acknowledges it, but almost perfunctorily -- and that's all for the best and as it should be. The pointed pang of gratitude comes early, when the darkness is still near; and then perhaps again much later, in a moment of unprompted reflection. And it's not the purpose of the wagon to engender that pang of gratitude, or even that reflection; rather, the purpose is to release one into the good, normal life and its happy, flowing possibilities. It's when that life is shruggingly and cheerfully taken for granted that you know you've arrived.

Welcome back aboard for year 6 as of August 5, 2020 and I hope to hear more from you here over time.
 

The Lizard of Oz

Crow
Gold Member
On September 28th I completed my fifth year on the wagon.

And I am four days into year 6 :)

Keep that wagon trundling on boys!

It's great to hear about this, 3extra. Yet another 5 year completion -- how many is it just on this page of the thread now? So many years -- adding up to how many decades -- of lives saved from ill health, from the useless grip of anxiety and depression, from decline both subtle and obvious. So many men kept younger, stronger, and hungrier for life than they would have been had they kept drinking. What a long and fine ledger it is.

Welcome back aboard for year 6 as of September 28, 2020 and I look forward to hearing more from you here as time goes on.
 

pirate

Sparrow
I am getting back on the wagon as of 12 October. I will have last drinks this evening and then commit to another year.

I'd completed a one year wagon plus some months change back in 2019. It was not difficult, not even at the start. I thought I'd take up moderate drinking afterwards and would simply quit at the first signs of trouble. Didnt work out that way, not even close.

This past year I'd probably drank 3 times more than any other year.
When you're young it would seem that money, parents,friends, logistics, closing time and work/uni all conspire to restrict your drinking. I do not seem to have any constraints left- what really got me was all night online ordering. When I run out I simply order more.

I'll probably die soon if I keep this up. Gambling losses, weight gain, social ostracism, dereliction of my work and problems with the law.
Ladies and gentlemen, the joys of drinking!

I am optimistic about this new wagon- because with the previous one I made a crucial mistake. I consumed tonnes of gourmet coffees, cappucinos and tea. I thought this would be my new pleasure. Rubbish, all of it. Its also probably half the reason my drinking got out of control- come evening time and its impossible to relax, no matter how much alcohol I drink. Ive been completely caffeine-free for three weeks now. Irritability, anxiety, depression are all significantly reduced. Insomnia is completely gone. I'd previously have been prepared to pay a small fortune for the ability to simply fall asleep come evening time.

I wish you gents good luck and prosperity on your own wagons. I'm hoping to post something positive here in a month or so.
 
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