Back to Zero?

Last night I went to a book club dinner at a friends’ house. I’ve known her and her husband since college. They have a dog and a sweet, adorable 18 month old baby girl. It’s a comfortable, loving, familiar atmosphere. My friend since junior high school was there too. Extra love and familiarity. I was really looking forward to book club this month. I adored the book we read (‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline…it’s loosely based on Charles Manson and his crew of lady killers told completely from a female perspective. I devoured it in 5 days) and I was craving some social interaction with people who I’ve known for ages.

Normally, when gearing up for book club I think about what kind of wine I would like to bring. Should I grab a bottle of red or white? What will go the best with the weather and food? I think about unwinding with some of my favorite ladies in the world while drinking a ‘few’ glasses of wine with them. I think about the fizzy, tipsy, floaty feeling that will settle over me like fairy dust as I sip (gulp) my wine. I think about the giggles we will share and how the wine will make me feel less awful about how FAT I am compared to my slender, fit and all-around lovely friends. I think about how the wine will make me feel that I am more interesting, fun, worthy of my friends’ time and attention. I think about remembering to ‘take it easy’ so that I will be able to drive the 40 minutes home safely. I think about how, even though I won’t be able to drink the same amount that I would if I were home alone, I’ll still be able to drink and that’s important and good because I don’t know how to not drink and I don’t want to take a night off because I want to numb and unwind and decompress.

Last night was different. Very different.

I brought a bottle of wine I don’t particularly care for and when I arrived I poured a glass of it for a friend, but not for myself. I sat at the table and chatted with the her as she sipped. I watched her enjoy her drink. I stared at the rose colored liquid in the wine glass, enjoying the way the light reflected off of and through the alcohol. I imagined the smell and taste of the wine if I were sipping a glass of my own and realized that I didn’t want any. I just……..didn’t…..want wine. I waited for the want, desire, need to consume me and it just plain didn’t materialize. I felt like myself. I felt like Annie.

I kind of love and hate how amazing a discovery that was for me. I loved that I didn’t want wine because that meant that this sobriety thing I’m trying out might actually have a chance of working. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I would be able to drive safely. I loved that I wouldn’t have a headache later or have an unsettled stomach or a hazy, unfocused mind. I loved that I didn’t want to feel fizzy, tipsy and floaty. I loved that, for the first time in probably years, I felt like enough. And my friends felt like they were enough too. I was present and really participating. It was fantastic.

What I hated was that I ever had any of the above thoughts to begin with. I hated that I got to a place where I had become consumed with thoughts and plans about alcohol. Do I have enough wine left at home to get through tonight? Or should I pick up an extra bottle, just in case? As if I were buying supplies to stock a survival kit. I hated that I was living in a mindset/lifestyle that factored drinking into every. single. solitary. day.

I sat at the table last night feeling vulnerable and exposed, but it wasn’t intolerable. I was a little nervous too, but that also felt manageable.

I wish I could say that I didn’t have a drop of alcohol last night. But that is not true. I had one margarita. ONE. If I had still been allowing the misguided and sick Good Girl Addict part of me to call the shots I would have had maybe TWO margaritas (and I would have probably topped each off with a tad more tequila) and possibly TWO glasses of wine. And I would have driven home. I would have chugged water after the final glass, telling myself I was diluting the alcohol in my blood.

But I only had the one drink and honestly, I didn’t even really enjoy it. I drank it slowly and let the ice melt. I drank water for the rest of the evening and was perfectly happy in doing so. I do believe they call that ‘drinking normally’ and I was kind of impressed I was able to do that. Does this mean that I want to never abstain completely from alcohol and try to be a ‘normal’ drinker? Not sure about that one. Does this mean that I have to start my ‘days without drinking counter’ back at zero? I hope not.

I’m still trying to figure all of this out. I want to see what fits and what doesn’t. I want to define this recovery thing in my own terms. I don’t know if that will include AA meetings and a sponsor (as my therapist has suggested and suggested) or if it will encompass some of what Rational Recovery preaches – I researched RR yesterday and I kind of dig it…but not totally sold.

In any case, I want to continue to live without drinking daily. I wasn’t worried on my drive home and I slept soundly. I woke up this morning feeling grateful. Feeling calm. Feeling peaceful. Feeling rested. I cannot tell you how rare that has been for me over the past…….12 years of drinking. Yes, I have traced all these patterns around drinking to 2004….God, that hurts to type, but it is very true.

I think that’s all I’ve got for today. I have an apartment to clean, new book to start and groceries to buy. Fun times — without booze.

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