Once An…..

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve written!  For a couple of reasons-one is that we’ve been away in the UK for several weeks.  The other is that my iPad is completely messed up and the thought of posting from my phone just seemed too much. But I’m here now, still sober on day…Whoops! I need to check-Another WOW!  Day 500!  Jeez! Who’d’ve thought!

I have a few observations from my past few weeks in the UK. While I wasn’t exactly nervous that I would cave in and drink, I was qustioning exactly how things would be.  I mean in the past, as soon as we arrived in London, the first thing I do is go to Waitrose and make sure that I have enough wine-not that there’s ever enough!  Loading up on French wines because they always seemed cheaper there than here.  This trip, while we flew into London, we immediately hopped on a train for a three hour trip to Devon.  To stay with long time friends of my SO for a few days before heading back to London for a couple of weeks.  These people live out in the country-in a big old Georgian house.  When you look out the windows, it’s like a post card-rolling hills and lots of sheep. I’ve been there many times, but have skipped the last couple of years for several reasons.  One is I really do not resonate with the house-it feels really chaotic to me-stuff everywhere-4 GIANT dogs everywhere along with the dog hair, etc.  And, the woman of the house is a total control freak-trying to anticipate one’s every move and finish everyone’s sentences.  There is absolutely no kind of back and forth conversation-Once a subject is brought up-she just runs with it. AND-they drink like fucking fish!  I remember my first trip there, years ago. We had gone for my SO’s 60th birthday celebration-which is between Christmas and New Year’s.  It was a constant house party.  That first night, I remember finally going up to our bedroom and me-me!– telling my SO that there was absolutely no way that I could keep up with these people! That he was going to need to go out and get me a case of Perrier or something.  I mean, I could drink-no question about that! But I don’t think I’d really seen anything like this since I was in college.  And trust me, these people were well past college age!  Needless to say, I did my best to keep up-but it was even too out of control for me.  Constant food and booze.  I finally decided that the woman was a cross between Hyacinth Bouquet from Keeping Up Appearances and Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous.  While this might sound funny on paper, trust me, in reality it’s not.
I was kind of wondering how it would go when it came out that I wasn’t drinking.  I asked my SO not to mention it.  No big deal.  And needless to say, the first night we were there, we were totally “knackered” as my SO would say-basically ate and went to bed. Of course, they never eat in this house before 9 or 10.  “Why” you might ask-as if you didn’t know? Because one needs a “buzz” first!  Anyway, the next night when the “high time” came around, she asked if I wanted any wine.  And, I just said no-that I hadn’t had any alcohol in almost a year and a half. Her response?  “I couldn’t do that!”  And that was that.  She never said another word about it. Now what was interesting to me is that I have noticed that when I tell people that I quit drinking, for the most part, they ask how or why-was it a health issue, things like that. And, these people are people that I’ve noticed have a lot of alcohol involved in their lives and activities. This woman was the first person in those circumstances that reacted differently.  That really gave me something to think about.  And to be honest, I think her long term alcohol use has effected her health-both mental and physical.. I can’t say that she doesn’t suffer from all of the internal strife that I and many others have caused by addiction-but she didn’t want to go anywhere near that topic.  And, let me tell you, she has some deep psychololical shit going on!

So! I made it through that and we were onto London.  Where again, I can’t exactly say I was worried-just kind of hyper aware and wondering how it would be for me.  My SO had planned a ton of social activities-most revolving around meals out.  The first was treating an old friend on one of our first nights in London.  She was already in the restaurant waiting for us when we arrived, nursing  a G and T.  I immediately asked what was a good non alcoholic drink and the bartender set me up with a Chelsea Set Cooler! Perfect!  Sparkling, Minty, Cucumbery, Appley!  I had mentioned to my SO that he should order a bottle of wine with dinner-and he did.  He maybe had 1 1/2 glasses and she had the rest.  When she noticed I wasn’t having any, I again, said I had quit drinking.  Now she did ask all the ususal questions and we went on from there.

Another evening, we met a friend at his private club.  Immediately he said he was going to order a bottle of champagne.  God!  How cool was that?!! We’re in a fancy shmancy private club in London in a very chi chi area and he wants to order a bottle of fizz!  Well, I immediately just said that I’d quit drinking and would just get a sparkling water-his girlfriend said that she really didn’t want to drink anything-and so that was that! My SO said he couldn’t be bothered so no champagne was ordered.

I think the thing that was most reinforced for me- again- was the sense of freedom that I felt this trip.  Freedom from trying how to squeeze in, sneak in, get in my “allotment” of alcohol every day.  Freedom from thinking about it everyday-ALL day.  Freedom from hiding the empties from my SO and sneaking them into the recycling bag at the last minute. Freedom from the dullness and hangovers and having to act like I’m completely 100%.  Freedom from pissing away money that I was able to spend on other things.  Freedom from being the one that had the most to drink on any given occasion.  Because what I also noticed at several other occasions, is that some people, including my SO, could order one glass of wine and be happy with that.  Shit! why bother??!  I could really picture myself and all the finagling I’ve done in the past, and for what?  WINE!!  What a fucking waste of time!  I will admit, that at times, not inviting someone round for drinks leaves a bit of a hole-and once back here, in the warm sunshine after a full day of getting my house in order, the thought of opening up a nice cold bottle of Sancere was appealing-for a split second! The other thing that occurred to me is HOW could I have kept up with it all?  I mean, in the past-so what if I’d just come off a 9 hour flight then a 1 hour bus ride followed by a 3 hour train ride?  That deserved a bottle of wine, didn’t it?  I mean I was on vacation!! And of course that applied on the other end-when I got home. The first thing I would do would be to go to the store to get a bottle of wine to drink.  No matter that I’d  basically been up and traveling for 20 hours or more.  This time when I got home, I realized that I needed coffee for the next morning.  Now normally, I get this Double French Roast at Whole Foods. But I just couldn’t bring myself to go there so I went to Trader Joes.  Struggling to figure out which coffee would at least make me happy the next morning and I could then go to Whole Foods and get my normal roast.  I asked several people who worked there and was assured that their Ground, roast Espresso was kick butt coffee.  And you know what??? It is! It’s my new favorite!  So much so that I went back in the next day and bought 3 bags of it to have in reserve! Driven to do that!  Well, you know what they say… Once an……

With love.

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Yep! 365 Days and More

Happy New Year!

I hit day 365 on January 1.  One year with NO alcohol! To be honest, while I’m glad that I’ve done it, I don’t feel particularly ecstatic.  I’ve been trying to think of all the fantastic things that have happened since I quit the booze. Of course there’s the obvious-no hangovers, no mental bullshit all night long, no deals with myself not to drink.  I’ve also saved a ton of money-both at home and when going out.  Actually, last week was my S/O”s birthday and we went out to eat at an upscale seafood/steak place.  He likes it because in his mind, it’s “very Americana”(he’s a Brit). So I made the reservations and requested the section we wanted to be seated in.  We were and had the same great server we’ve had in the past. One of those times I was so drunk, I actually blacked out for a bit during the meal and had to be propped up to leave.  Charming vision isn’t it?  Anyway, when he came to take the drink orders I said I wanted a mocktail in a good glass-kind of fruity and fizzy.  He came back with I don’t know what-but it was in a martini glass and I loved it.  Got another.  When he asked if I wanted a third, I said no!  I had to cut myself off!  He laughed and I said how times have changed!  Being the great server that he is, he just lauged with me.  And you know what? I had a really good time. Yes with my S/O but with the servers and just all the way around.  (Yes, I interact with waitstaff-it kinda freaks out some of my British friends, especially in London at a toney kind of restaurant, but, that’s me. They are people too and we all have a story!)  I felt good about myself, about how I looked and that I could prance in and out with head held high and not boozy.

So, that is another good thing. I haven’t been sleeping great and I’ve not yet experienced the “miracle weight loss”.  But, I do have a kind of clarity that I don’t think I had while I was drinking.  This is a very subtle difference.  I still blow my top off at things and cry at greeting card commercials. Of course I also remind myself that one year of sobriety is not a whole hell of a lot compared to the 40 years of drinking that I did.  Not to diminish going one year without booze.

Is my life better overall?  Yes, I would say it is.  Have I had any huge breakthroughs or specific “Aha” moments?  Not really.  Maybe not yet.  I do have a sense that I am living the way I’m supposed to be living.  How we are all supposed to be living.  With awareness.  Not medicated.  Not dulled out by a substance. To have the realization that this how people live without alcohol or whatever it is.  I don’t really do anything differently than I did while drinking.  Except that everything is done differently because it’s not done in the shadow of booze-wanting it, regretting it, loving it, hating it.  It’s become kind of a non-entity.

This past year, I’ve had a few trips-all booze free.  Although to be honest again, I think going to a place like Hong Kong with only 3 months of sobriety under my belt was a little too much-way too much sensory overload.  But, I did it-I went to Mexico twice and several other places-all places that I have boozed my way through previously. I’m not sure if I had more or less fun sober.  I certainly remember everything and don’t have any drunk regrets.  I’v never once wished that I’d gotten drunk the night before.  That counts for a lot!

So, I guess what I’m trying to say in a very bumbling way is that for me at this point, life is life.  It’s steady. It’s ongoing.  The choice is whether you want to be in a leaky boat that you have to keep bailing out the water constantly or if you want one that can make it through a squall safe, sound and secure and upright at the end of it.