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.
 

rdvirus

Woodpecker
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. :)

And a tear to my eye. Thank you.
 

pitbullowner

Kingfisher
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.
 
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