Ah! There it was. My would-be blip. Saturday and bambino at a friend’s so it was just me and hubby. Took him to the pub for a drink – pint of soda water with fresh lime for Yours Truly – and then headed home. I’m not sure what happened, but I suspect this is what they mean in AA when they call alcoholism ‘baffling’. Yep, it was baffling. Old illusions of what booze would be and mean suddenly pushed their way into my conscious and for a moment I believed it all. There it was again. Out of nowhere. I wanted to have a drink, wanted to just be wild and crazy and do silly shit. I’d been so sensible for so long and I fancied dancing around on the livingroom floor with hubby. For that brief passage of time – we are talking minutes – it was tempting to believe in the false promise that pouring wine on our happiness would make it shimmer even more.
It didn’t happen. I don’t think even if someone had placed a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc with soda in front of me in that precise moment and thrown in cheerleaders to boot I would have drunk it. But that little monster was there, however briefly, and in that moment I wanted to for exactly the reason why I reckon people fail to stay sober: I wanted to because in that moment I felt deprived. Over the course of what can’t have been longer than three minutes, I was pissed off because I felt I wasn’t allowed to do something. I regressed to the mental maturity of a toddler and although I don’t remember sticking my bottom lip out it wouldn’t surprise me if I did. It made me SO angry. So angry, in fact, that my bad mood stretched well into the following day even though I didn’t initially connect the two. Is this what they mean in AA when they refer to an emotional hangover? Perhaps it was. I felt bristly. Like a hedgehog pointing all its spikes out around it in case some misguided soul tries to touch it. That was me Sunday morning. It took a 10k walk around the park to put me right again, inhale deeply and just let go. But back to the night before. I wanted to lash out and be petulant yet at the same time I knew it was right that I hadn’t given into it.
“Well. It was bound to happen sooner or later,” hubby pointed out.
Yup. It was bound to. I knew that. I knew that illusions ingrained in me from birth about what alcohol is would come back to the fore and try to lure me in and for a short while I had believed it. Because I felt so angry, I didn’t want to show that I was actually relieved and grateful that I withstood that old urge when it found me again. And as much as I’d like to make this into a battle story, it wasn’t actually hard at all – I’d be lying if I said it was. It put me in the shittiest mood, but if once every couple of months is as often as I’ll end up being moody that’s something I can live with because when I was drinking I was moody every goddamn day.
“I know,” I told hubby, “just bear with me because I feel really off and I have no idea why.”
No surprise really, though. I was on course to drink myself into an early grave and then I stopped in January after over a decade of alcohol abuse, closer to 12 years of sinking 2-3 bottles of wine most evenings. I’ve felt amazing for those two months – well, almost two and a half! – and increasingly lost sight of all the reasons I once had to drink. So no wonder I was thrown when I suddenly heard the distant songs of the sirens. I woke up the following morning in hubby’s arms and the only thing on my mind was THANK GOD FOR THAT. No hangover. No deep disappointment in myself or the inevitable embarrassment of having to tell people I’d fallen off the wagon.
But I was still bristly, angry and disappointed. I told my poor hubby I needed space and he gave it. I read a book for a while. Then I had some coffee and just sat on the sofa for a while looking out at the grey Easter Sunday sky. And then I did the thing I knew I needed – my meditation, which is pulling on my trainers and going for a long walk. Only then and after a shower, was I soft enough again to be held. I still couldn’t explain to hubby why my mood had got so bad, but looking back on it now I think it was anger at wanting to do something I knew I shouldn’t do and knowing I would have wrecked everything had I given into it. Most of all it was anger at wanting to do something I know wouldn’t do anything for me, something I can now see through. So how could it possibly fool me again? That’s how strong the mind can be, and how deeply rooted those illusions still are in spite of how the rational part of me knows none of them are real.
What I can take from it all is this:
- It’s not a strong enough pull to drag me under – it took zero to no effort to withstand it.
- I need to allow myself to feel every bit of it – it’s natural and the more I dare face it head on, the less power it’ll have over me.
- It will pass – every time and always.
- I will win this non-battle – every single time.
So it’s all good. It’s another short week and I am already looking forward to Friday.
Today I won’t drink.