The road is long

“Still” meaning – as a continuation of my last post. Not as a continuation of the past eight or nine months.  I feel like this resurgence of desire is on some sort of schedule: I’ve never read anything in addiction literature about an 8-9 month hump, but I’ve definitely read similar things from bloggers in the sobersphere.  So, once again, thanks for being you.  It’s easier, knowing that this will pass again.  I had a moment the other day where I felt like I was going to be fighting cravings forever.  And now I understand why people say “don’t think about ‘forever'”, because that’s exactly the sort of overwhelm that could drive one to drink.  But I know I can not drink today, and not drink tomorrow, and the chances are good-to-definite that fairly soon, I’ll go back to not missing it.

On the weekend, some old friends came to dinner.  The male half of the couple is one of my closest and dearest friends, although since they moved to the other side of the world almost a decade ago, we’ve drifted apart.  Back in our twenties, we used to meet at a bar and share a bottle of wine and some snacks.  And then we’d share a second bottle of wine.  And then we’d look at one another, because we knew perfectly well that the third bottle would tip us over into uncomfortably drunk, and we always said we wouldn’t drink that much next time, but neither of us felt done yet.  And so we would, always, order that third bottle.

Those were nights of talking so fast that our words tangled together, too much smoke and alcohol, and feeling slightly nauseated on the last bus home, near midnight.  Nights of bad judgement and hungover mornings afterwards.  I wonder, now, whether our friendship would have been as close if it hadn’t been so alcoholic.

This time around, I knew I’d have to tell them that I no longer drank, and I managed to slip the information into an email giving them directions to my house.  No big deal at all, luckily: we’re of an age where several of us have stopped drinking for various reasons, I gather.

So I cooked beef fillets wrapped in prosciutto, and they arrived with some fancy gin truffles as a hostess gift (2% gin.  I’m going to eat them, but not this week, not when I’m feeling a bit shaky) and three bottles of wine.   And the food was amazing and the conversation was great, and I’m glad I got to see them again.

But.

Three bottles of wine.  For three people, for one dinner.  They arrived mid-afternoon, and when LH failed to offer them a glass by four o’clock, they opened one themselves.

By ten o’clock, the conversation was flagging, a bit.  It never used to do that.

crossroad

I find that I look at people differently, now.  I watch my old drinking companions drink, and I notice how fast they tip the last bit of wine into their glass before opening the next bottle, and I look at their faces closely; are they puffier, redder, then they used to be, or is it just age?  I feel mean, thinking things like that, but I don’t intend to be critical.  I’m hardly Dorian Gray to their picture, after all.  It’s just that I’m not very far down the path of sobriety yet: the crossroad is still in sight, behind me, and so is the road I didn’t take.  When I watch my friends, I’m peering down that path.  I’m reminding myself why I took the one I did.

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Imagine that this post is backed by the Jaws soundtrack

My mother-in-law is coming to stay for a few days in order to admire the new house.  She’s a regular, although not particularly heavy drinker.  Exactly like LH, in fact; he can stop at one, but not at none, so for both of them the 5 pm G&T and/or the glass of wine with dinner is a social necessity.  Wine decorates every social occasion despite her late husband having, to my eyes, quite an obvious drinking problem.  There is no fucking way that my abstention will fly under the radar.  

That’s fine.  What is not fine is that she’s the sort of woman who, under the guise of kindly concern, attempts to ferret out every single possible thing that might be wrong with one’s life, or highlight any downside to a triumph.  It’s hard to even describe how this manifests, but for example;  you’ll announce that you have bought a new, bigger house!  Hurrah!  Oh, that’s lovely, she says. Are you not concerned about the cost of heating?  I suppose you’ll have to postpone that planned overseas holiday for a few more years now.  When her son announced that he’d been awarded his PhD last year, she said Oh, well done for finally finishing, especially since it took so long with the children and everything.   An acquaintance hasn’t just had her first baby, she’s had an IVF baby, who will be referred to that way for years to come.  Conversations devolve very, very quickly into us defending ourselves against imaginary problems, or explaining why a good thing is a good thing.  Unconditional approval is not a thing that happens in LH’s family.

And she is obsessed with weight and diet, although she will claim not to be.  She doesn’t diet herself, having maintained her weight throughout her life through a combination of genetic luck, a job that requires physical movement, and just having some self-discipline, really.  So weight loss or gain is noticed, diets are noticed.  Less than 24 hours after I’d given birth to my second daughter, who weighed in at almost 10 pounds, she commented on the fact that I still had a bit of a tum. 

All of this means that she will almost certainly have issues with me not drinking, and any explanation I give will be an excuse for a barb.  My usual ‘thought I’d stop drinking and see if I could lose some of this fat’ line will be a weapon in her hands.

It doesn’t matter, of course.  I realise it doesn’t matter what I say or what she thinks of me.  And to be very honest, it’s a lot easier now that her husband is not around, because he was the obnoxious alcoholic type; drank, got loud, went into long monologues, often got insulting, spent the next day being defensive and cranky.  Mostly I used to cope with that by drinking, because alcohol is very useful in creating a bubble of numbness around one.  His whole family reacted by just tuning him out most of the time, and it was so horribly, awfully uncomfortable.  But nobody ever talked about it.  Ever.

So compared to that, being ‘the sober one’ looks pretty good.  But there’s still that thing.  She’ll go back home and tell everyone that poor AA must have had more of a problem than we realised… or, I guess, poor AA’s weight is so out of control now that

Oh, and we’re throwing a house-warming this weekend.  No problem at all being sober and hosting a party, and I think it’ll be a lot easier to go unnoticed in that context anyway.  

I’ll report back.