Chatting with a pal today about This Process. We had a moment I’ve had when talking about it with other people, where it’s asked ‘…so, is that you off the drink forever?’

It’s been such a long time since I wasn’t drinking habitually that it’s a difficult question to get to grips with. That is to say, with it being such a completely normal and expected part of my life, to an often unhealthy degree in terms of both frequency and intensity, and with the habit performing quite a specific set of functions for me which I’m not entirely clear about or comfortable with, that not doing it is somehow worthy of extended thought and grappling.  Our ‘reasons’ for doing anything are complex, not easily reducible to one thing or another.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, to not be able to just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question like the one phrased above. Nor was it likely intended to elicit one. Bear in mind this pal is a psychiatric nurse, and knows what they’re talking about, and I’ve known them twenty-something years.

It was a good question!

And, so, I don’t have a short answer.  I am conscious of trying to not be dogmatic or evangelical… Leaping in with both feet usually lands you in something or other. As we chatted, I recalled what I’d said about it in the Rotating Round the Sun post (linked to at the top of this post). It’s a process I have been thinking about… at the moment my view is framed by the exploratory aspects of it, as ‘doing something I haven’t done’.

As the habit of a lifetime, and with drinking alcohol being so widespread and commonly accepted as a way of being, I’ve found myself having to work as much on the language I use to talk about it. Grappling with the semantics of sobriety, for example. The predominance of negative terms used to euphemise the process, from the way I’m trying to speak about not drinking (see!) to the very concept of that which I’m trying to do (‘Not drinking?).

Forever, though? A thought that occurred to me today was how likely one would be to ask the same type of question if someone were to become a practising Buddhist, to pick a faith system at random.  Or to take up knitting, or yoga, or running, or vegetarianism, or death metal. Such things suggest commitment, certainly. And there’s a concomitant notion that to fully appreciate benefits, to acquire a new habit, may take time. And, it depends on the habit, and on the motivations for so doing…

‘…how’s that working out for you?’

I’m at a stage where it’s working well, so far. Beyond that? ‘We’ll see what happens.’