So, in a totally shocking and unexpected turn of events, it appears that what everyone else experiences when giving up drinking also applies to me. I know, right? It’s almost as if I’m not a unique snowflake with a new story to tell.
Here on Day Six everything is pretty cruisy. Did a full beauty treatment last night, got up a smidgeon earlier this morning to actually bother with hair and make up, got lovely email from Husband telling me I looked radiant. Have felt all sorts of bubbly this morning, as if I have a new crush. Also a bit teary. Sometimes cross.
I like it. I like it a lot. People talk a lot about using drinking to numb their feelings, whether they realised that or not. Some of my best memories of drinking are when it worked to heighten my feelings. Sure, it’s all a drug-induced illusion, but sometimes being able to shut out the cynical voice, the critical voice, the meta voice that insists, like everyone’s obnoxious film student friend, on pointing out the tropes and the techniques and the prejudices in a given piece of entertainment, and just sob lustily at the sad bits is very satisfying.
I remember once, having an hour to kill before a rehearsal, and taking my book into a local bar and settling in on my own with a glass of wine. I used to do that a lot before I had children, especially when I was still a student; read in bars and restaurants on my own. Books and alcohol, my two favourite things. On this particular occasion it was A Town Like Alice, which is possibly one of the greatest books ever written, and I got to an incredibly powerful bit just as, I guess, the effects of the wine really started to hit me properly, and it felt like everything was heightened and I was utterly compelled by the writing and the story and being where I was, and that’s still a really, really good memory.
Of course most of that memory is attributable to the book. No wine on this earth is going to make me feel stunned by the power of Diary Of A Shopaholic. But it’s a drinking memory that I’ve always tried to replicate because of the way, on that occasion, it served to amplify my feelings. So these days, if I want a good weep, I’ll deliberately put on a sad film and drink a bottle of wine knowing that the latter will increase my chances of bawling, satisfyingly if snottily, through the former.
I am realising, as I write, that like with everything else, it’s the drug that’s caused the need for the drug. Why don’t I cry, or laugh, or get swept away by the emotion of a good book or a good film without wine? Well, that’ll be because I’m a drinker.
Tonight is my trigger night. It’s Thursday, and Thursday is the night when Husband goes out to his hobby, and I make myself a platter of delicious food – the sort that one tends to pair with wine, like olives and good cheese and salami and fresh bread – and open a bottle of good wine, and watch whatever TV show I have lined up. It’s the only night in the week that I do watch TV, and it’s become something of a ritual indulgence.
I have the new Sherlock tonight. I’m reluctant to forego that. Can I replicate the rest of the experience without the wine? Or do I need to step away from this ritual altogether for a while and find something else to do. And if so, then what? I can’t go out for a run, since I’m solo with the children. I did the bath thing last night. I’m not a crafter, and the last thing I want to do after a day at the office is try and squeeze some writing out of my poor tired brain. If I had readers, I’d ask for your advice, because it’s all very well telling someone to go out and embrace new hobbies, but there’s a reason that wine takes hold of so many women when we have young children; we are not free, and our chances of indulgence are limited.
None of that means that I will drink. This is just a night when I’m not sure what fills the gap where the wine used to be.