As much as I genuinely don’t want to drink and the idea of even a small sip makes me feel a little sick, there is one situation I know could end really badly. Someone in my tribe blogged today about feeling emotionally raw and how in the moment she felt like letting go, how she for a brief while wanted to drink. Of course our triggers are different and in her case and in the situation she was in, the urge to drink came from wanting to numb all the sorrow she felt in that moment. Perhaps you’re reading this, brave girl, so can I point out (again) how fucking proud I am of you? You’re quite amazing, you know. We must all have those times and situations where it just happens, whatever our triggers are. Well, I was MEGA triggered a few weeks back. Had I gone there solo, I don’t even know if I’d bothered trying to resist. That’s how powerful Drunk Me is when she gets my attention and it just wouldn’t matter that I know in my heart that it won’t do me any good. It’s so crazy and impossible to make sense of.
Hubby and I went down to the coast to see Poppy, who used to be my favourite drinking buddy. Hubby was still doing Sober October and I sort of hoped he’d give himself a hall pass as I worried that Poppy might feel awkward otherwise. I’d been quite happy if the two of them had kept the drinks coming all day, actually. Funny that. Anyway, I just knew because I felt the ping! then for the first time in months. I don’t know when it last happened but it must have been when I’ve been home alone – this doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, probably due to new habits that have taken root – but there it was and it was STRONG. Old illusions pushed their way back into my conscious and served up images of how lovely it’d be to just have wine with Poppy and talk shite all afternoon. No, it wasn’t a struggle and if anything I was a little relieved to get away, but it happened. It’s crap, actually, because I love Poppy to bits and I would hate to avoid seeing her on my own, but perhaps that’s what I need to do until this last bastion of old ghosts falls apart too. A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.
Ah, so good to get out of London for a bit and sit here with a huge bowl of marinated mussels right on the seafront! Fresh air, huge seagulls that fly a little too close hoping to snatch food and in the company of the people I like drinking with the most: Poppy and hubby. There it is, a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc topped with soda. A little shiver when I take the first sip. Only one sip which has yet to hit my blood stream but just the knowledge that I have has me buzzing and we’re gossiping about the people at the place where Poppy and I used to work. It’s giggly, it’s fun, it swings between the ridiculously silly to the heartfelt and serious, back and forth, back and forth… An unseasonably warm afternoon in October, right by the sea, with two of my favourite people, it’s fun and lovely and an energising break from London. Three of those big glasses of wine disappear within the space of a couple of hours and we head back to London. Car journey is a pain in the arse but then we get back and I pick up a box of wine on the way and get on it again at home. It’s just loads of fun. We get good and drunk and have some seriously wild sex to top it all off.
It’s fucking stressful all of it, though, remember? Those mussels you only eat because you sort of have to, but do you actually even taste them? No, you just want those out of the way. Hubby drinks slowly and Poppy eats slowly – both irritating, right? That holds it all up and you try to pace yourself so that their glasses aren’t nearly full when you order the next one. You’ll feel shit tomorrow and Sunday will be completely wasted, but even after a sip you feel excited and don’t care about this. It’s ridiculous – do you even remember how good you feel when you don’t do this to yourself? Stupid cow. Three down but hubby has stopped at two because he’s driving. You sneak a few big gulps from Poppy’s glass as she giggles at how you’re getting more down you when hubby has gone to the bathroom. You love that she gets this and helps out. You have the whole car journey back up to London now, which sucks horse balls because it’s a two hour interruption to the one thing that has now eclipsed everything else. All you have in your head is where you’ll get the wine from and when you’re close hubby suggests Marks & Spencer, an idea you immediately reject because their only boxed wine is a two-bottle job and that’s not going to be enough. Plus you’ve sobered up a little. It has to be Sainsbury’s – that’s where REAL women get their three-bottle boxes. But damn, you’ve sobered up a bit, so you will probably need more than half of that. You fix this problem by making your glasses much bigger at home. Hubby will hopefully think you’ve just filled it up with just soda and not realise your glass of wine is nearly double his. Job done. Aaaaaaand off we go and you’re soon a goner. Maybe you end up having really awesome sex and if you’re REALLY lucky you might remember little flashes of it, wouldn’t that be good? Or did you argue? Who knows! And Sunday? A write-off – like most days. I don’t know what in all of this was so great, lady? The sex possibly, but you can’t even remember it, can you?
Yep, I know all of this and perhaps I really am thoroughly nuts to have these exchanges with myself, but with Poppy the pull was stronger. In fact, it existed whereas in most other areas of my life it’s all but disappeared. It’ll be some silly knot in my brain that has me still associating wine with good times and perhaps it’s because Poppy and I have never EVER spent time together sober. Well, except at work but even then there were a few boozy lunches. Maybe I just need to create a new way for us to spend time and until the ping! stops pinging I’ll just drag hubby along. I mean, I genuinely thought I’d forever be vulnerable home alone and it just hasn’t turned out that way – my brain has formed new paths and connections and it’s no longer overwhelming. This was the first time I’ve seen Poppy in person in all these months I’ve been sober so maybe it’s just like the first time hubby went away for a few days and will come right once my mind learns that we are friends and not just drinking buddies? It wasn’t hard to resist but I also accept that this was partly because I had hubby with me. I suspect had I been alone against the Beast in that situation it might have been a fight to the death. Or immediate capitulation on my part? Who knows. But I did learn that the Beast can sneak up on me so I’ll just use the tools I have to make myself safer when I need to.
Today I’m not going to drink.