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  • Writer's pictureJessica Harris

Falling down the rabbit hole.

In 1865, Lewis Carroll wrote the classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In the book Alice, who is burning with curiosity, follows the White Rabbit into his burrow, which transports her to the strange, surreal, and nonsensical world of Wonderland. In modern times, the story has inspired the frequent use of the phrase “falling down the rabbit hole” to describe situations that are strange, confusing, or illogical and often hard to escape from. These days, the phrase tends to take on a negative connotation that, in general, falling too far down the rabbit hole is probably not a great thing. But what if you do fall, can you get out?

Falling down the rabbit hole isn’t so bad nor is the fear of falling into a sea of regrets, it’s after the fall when you’ve realized where you are and what you’ve become. -McKenzie Amanda Johnson

Picture this… you set a goal and you begin to chase after your goal. While running toward your goal you stumble on a rabbit hole. Do you simply lose your balance, pick yourself up and keep on going? Or, do you fall down the rabbit hole and have to work your way out?

Am I falling down the rabbit hole?

The one year booze snooze officially ended on April 25, 2019 which is approximately 40 days ago. When the snooze ended the question I was asked most was, “will you drink again?”. The question is totally valid as I spent a year blogging about my goal and expressed my desire to make a permanent change in my lifestyle. It is natural for people to wonder if my long period of abstinence would create lasting behavioral change. Maybe they wonder if I was just experimenting to see if I could do it.

Since inquiring minds want to know… the answer is officially, YES, I have had alcoholic beverages since the end of my snooze. I know this because I am keeping track of when I drink and how many beverages I consume.

  • In fact, I have had exactly 32 drinks in 40 days.

  • 70% of the time (28 days) I was sober.

  • 30% of the time (12 days) I consumed beverages.

Slipping into old routines

Seeing the data in writing makes me think I could slowly be falling down the rabbit hole and slipping into old routines. If I am only 40 days out from my goal and I am already drinking 30% of the time, what will it be like at 6 months? Could I be completely derailing all my efforts of changing my habits?

When the booze snooze ended, I anticipated my percentage of alcohol consumption would be a little lower at this point, so I will admit that I am a little disappointed. I don’t quite feel like I have completely fallen down the rabbit hole yet, but I do feel like I made have stumbled over one!

A relapse is to fall or slip back into a former state, vice, wrongdoing, or the act or an instance of backsliding, worsening, or subsiding. Every relapse is a chance to learn something about yourself. So, now I have an opportunity to recommit and get back on the path I want. I need to remind myself why I started the booze snooze in the first place...I wasn’t happy with my consumption level and that is what I wanted to change. I can shake off the old habits….and start again with even more commitment than before.

I am using a strategy of tracking my consumption as an opportunity to learn what I need to do to create a different outcome in the future. Recording what I do on a daily basis can help me more rapidly notice when I get off track. By “checking in” on my habit every day, I am more aware of any changes and less likely to slip up. Simply being reflective and aware of my consumption levels will help me put the brakes on drinking impulses, but having this insight isn’t enough for sustained change. Using my habit tracker as a method of accountability will help keep me from going too far down the rabbit hole.

My booze snooze was a crash course in habit formation because I had the drive and grit to reach my goal. However, I knew once the structure of the snooze was gone, I may not be as committed to my original goal. Losing commitment is not unusual as habit formation requires practice and often it happens in a two steps forward, one step backward pattern. Therefore slipping up needs to be followed by repeated efforts to reinforce new understanding and new coping skills.

My daughter, who is a competitive cheerleader, is a good example of this. She models that how “good” you are at something is directly correlated to how much you consider that thing your passion. In order for her to appreciate the sport and enjoy it, she has to practice it long enough to get good at it. She may learn a new stunting skill and get it easily at first, but then she sometimes falls out of her stunt during a routine. This fall sets her back a notch and rattles her confidence, but she reflexively responds by practicing and improving because she is passionate about her sport.

Refocus and climb out of the hole

Have I changed my alcohol consumption habits? Yes, and No. I effectively changed my habits for well over a year, but now that the boundaries have been expanded and my world got a little bigger, I feel like I am slipping down the rabbit hole and consuming a too many beverages. I sure do love that my habit tracker is keeping me from getting too far down that hole. Today, I am refocusing and climbing out of the hole quickly before it becomes my whole, unhealthy, and confusing world.

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