Whew!

The luncheon went well yesterday (see Christmas Luncheon post). I followed my plan exactly. I made a conscious decision to be happy about where I was and who I was with. I put a lot of effort into engaging in what others were saying. All of this to avoid the thought that I might be missing out. It amazes me how much I actually enjoy food without the wine. While drinking, I tend to view the arrival of food as an interruption that will only slow down the buzz. And added calories. I rarely participate in dessert even though I love it as I want to get back to drinking ASAP and the sugar doesn’t usually go with the drinks. But yesterday, I enjoyed each course as it was served. When the niggling beginning of an “I’m missing out” thought arrived I dismissed and intentionally thought about something I was grateful for (Thanks Bubble Hour – A Grateful Heart Never Relapses). When dessert arrived I enjoyed a hot tea with it. Lovely. Something I never do while drinking – let’s order a port with dessert (which I don’t really enjoy but I can’t get drunk on hot tea can I?). Again it amazes me how much I am willing to sacrifice on the red wine altar.

I had spoken to my husband about how late this luncheon might go. He said *probably* no later than 4:30. I was immediately alarmed. How was I going to sit through a more than four hour luncheon. I tried to stay in the present moment and not rehash past Christmas gong-shows with this crew or worry about possible future scenarios: what if he wants to go somewhere else with everyone after this? It was snowing, we were at a lovely golf course clubhouse and scenery was quite pretty. Stay in the present. Stay in the present. Be grateful. Be grateful. I could feel my husband checking my face for impatience/resentment/outright anger as he switched from beer to rum and coke. I normally try to control his drinking and get very resentful when he does what he has always done. I tried not to worry about the next hour or what might happen later on in the evening. I talked, laughed, ordered another tea. And another tea. Then some more lemon water. I peed A LOT.
It was interesting to watch others get buzzed and then outright drunk. One woman got louder and talked over everyone, monopolizing the conversation. Another young woman got woozy looking and lost her vibrancy. Doing my best not to be self-righteous or judgemental, I did at this point feel great relief that I was not half smashed (or full smashed). I remained “unsmashed” – couldn’t resist – sorry! Conversation became difficult and trying at this point. Voices were getting louder and I was getting tired. As one woman was yelling/laughing during a conversation I gently tapped my husband’s leg with my foot signalling I was reaching the end. He understood as he could no longer get a word in edgewise either. At this point I thought if he wants to head out with these folks, go ahead but as for me, I want to move on and do something else with my evening. But he ordered the final round and we left. I drove everyone home and while it was a trying ride, I made it. We went home, had dinner with our kids and I baked a thousand cookies – okay maybe not a thousand but it felt like that…

I have been here before. The sober one at the party and very grateful for it at the end of the event and the next morning. I have felt healthy and happy being sober. And I feel that way now. What scares me is how quickly I will give it up. I have had seven months and without a second thought have found myself drinking my self senseless on a night celebrating a friend’s promotion – not even my own promotion! That is what I want to avoid. I want to be alcohol free for good this time. For life. Every time I go back to drinking, it is harder for me to get back here. How do I keep the momentum going? How do I cement my resolve?

Tonight we go to a play. We go with a couple who we have both drank a lot with and who have also happily hung out with me while I did not drink. The wife spent a lot of time trying to get me to drink some nights. I always politely declined but felt a little harassed. We were on holidays with them when she ordered a drink I had suggested because I had heard about it on Oprah. When it arrived, she picked it up, took a sip, and reached across the table with the cocktail in her hand and put it to my mouth imploring me to have “just a sip – just try it for Pete’s sake…” I had had it. I stood up and motioned for her to follow me. She looked surprised but did. When we were out of earshot of our husbands I told her in no uncertain terms that she was to stop pressuring me to drink. I told her that I don’t drink because once I start I don’t stop and that causes problems for me. I told her I was in a recovery group and she needed to respect “no” when others decline alcohol with no questions asked. She thought I was joking. She looked around for cameras in the bushes. When she realized that I was not kidding around she asked, “Do you think I drink too much? Do you think I need a program?” She then became understanding of the situation. This is the same friend who when she got a professional promotion, I made the choice to celebrate with her and a couple of other friends with a boatload of champagne after seven months of sobriety. It was a decision that I felt came out of nowhere. One moment I was seven months alcohol free and the next I was in the cold beer and wine store buying several bottles of champagne. Baffling. That is what scares me – how quickly I will throw hard work to the curb.It will be interesting to see how tonight goes. I have done these plays both sober and drunk. I enjoy the plays way more sober although the pre-play dinner and drinks is fun. So that is the day…

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

I love this quote because triggers are really just feelings/thoughts that will also come and go like clouds in a windy sky. I am going to try to remember this and use my breath to get through the triggers that will come my way until the wind takes them away…

Have a good one!

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