The weirdest thing happened the other night – I had a drinking dream. It’s been a long time since I had one. This one was different and I can’t quite figure out what it’s trying to tell me.
Early on in recovery – say, the first six months or so – I had two or three drinking dreams that were all the same. I dreamt that I was already drinking, that is, when I “came into” the dream it was already too late: I was already on the sauce. These dreams triggered that horrible, old feeling of powerlessness and sorrow. I was done for, doomed and there was no way out. I was trapped. In these dreams I had no choice. When I woke up, the feeling of the dream was so strong that I carried it with me to the point where for the first few moments upon waking it seemed real. I could physically feel the hangover. Then, I’d realise it was just a dream and I was still sober and the world was still as it should be, and it filled me with a renewed sense of gratitude. Thank GOD I don’t have to do that anymore!
A little further ahead, I had another drinking dream. At a guess, this was perhaps about a year in but I can’t actually remember. All I know it was, until a couple of days ago, my most recent one. In this one, I was in the supermarket and in the alcohol aisle. I was looking at wine bottles and was holding one in my hand, reading the label, choosing which wine to get. And then suddenly in the dream itself, I realised “oh shit, that’s right! I don’t have to do this anymore!” and put the bottle back on the shelf. Waking up from that dream felt good. It felt like a little sign that I was on more solid ground, although I have never and still don’t want to ever lose sight of the devastation that would be put into motion if I were to fall back.
For a long time now, I’ve not had any of these “wet dreams”, as I like to think of them.
Until a couple of days ago.
This one was super weird. Hubby and I were in New Zealand and in a beach bach. ‘Bach’ is pronounced ‘batch’ and is what they call their beach houses. Anyway, in the dream it was early in the day and I became aware that there was a shot glass containing clear liquid. It was alcohol and the glass was mine – that was the sense I got anyway. I’d poured it, I’d made that decision and I was super aware and embarrassed that people might notice that I shouldn’t start drinking so early in the day. A flashback, I suppose, to my drinking days – the constant fight to plan, facilitate and conceal my drinking. It was super shitty of course but mostly just really weird. First off, I never drank vodka or shots or anything like that, it was always wine. Second, as opposed to those earliest wet dreams, there was no sense of whether I’d already started or if I still had a choice. Those first dreams were horrible for that very reason, you see – my choice was already taken away from me, I’d already been drinking so all was lost. In this one I couldn’t tell.
I didn’t wake up feeling dreadful, just curious really as to what it was trying to tell me. I mean, sure, it gave me a snapshot of how awful it was to drink, no doubt about that, but it didn’t result in any thank-God-it’s-not-real moment of any great proportions. Yep, I still feel enormously grateful, every bit as much as I did a year ago, two years ago and even two weeks after getting sober. This dream, however, just left me a little baffled. No, it’s not playing hugely on my mind or anything like that and it doesn’t make me doubt anything. In many ways it does just do what the previous ones did – it just underlines how shitty my drinking life was – but it also seemed so odd. It never came to anything, it was just us pottering about in the bach waiting for the day to really start and the presence of that shot glass that was definitely mine but that I wasn’t sure what to do with. It was sort of mine and I was going to drink it. Or was I? It wasn’t clear. It was just there.
Oh, it’s not important, it just made me wonder and it stands out because it’s the first time in a long time that I dream about booze.
Beyond this, I’m in a shitty mood today – not brought on by the above dream, by the way – which is rubbish as I have the counselling course and don’t at all feel like I’m in the right frame of mind. We have fishbowls all day today, which means we’re doing observed skills practice and with fellow students acting the client or counsellor. It isn’t something I find easy to do on the best of days mostly because I can’t freaking bear being the centre of attention no matter how low key, but today I really don’t feel ready for it. Over video conference as we’re obviously in the midst of this pandemic still, but whilst that does make the centre of attention thing a little more bearable, it makes it harder in lots of other ways.
Ah well. Face the fear and do it anyway. Do the next right thing. This too shall pass. One day at a time and if today’s a crappy one, tomorrow is still a mystery and I know that no matter what the universe throws my way I can handle it. What’s one little shitty day? It’s just one day. And I’ll face it head on. I won’t run away and I won’t hide either. Bring it!
Today I’m not going to drink.