At forty-nine days I have learned my way around a new evening routine in which I do not drink. I’m not sure you could say it is a ‘new normal’ or whatever but it definitely feels more effortless than at the beginning. It is a given, let’s say, that I’m not drinking in the evenings now. Last night, though, was out of the ordinary in that it was my first night alone in the house since Covid started but more importantly and more to the point, since I stopped drinking. My guy knows I don’t drink and he’s spent every evening with me as I didn’t. He wasn’t ‘watching’ but that didn’t really matter because I was aware that he was aware and that was . . . not nothing. A mild form of accountability I guess you could say.
Around 4pm when I leave the office, for reasons unknown and unexpected it suddenly hit me: it will be just me and the booze in the house. Me and the drink and the silence. Have you any idea how romantic that used to sound to me? How earnestly I would have sworn to you that that sweet, seductive scenario was as close to heaven on earth as it gets? Please hear me when I say, if wine had had big soft fluffy white feathers for arms I would have happily blissfully entirely fallen into them like wings. And kept falling until it became fading. Trusted them to keep me safe and warm and oblivious to everything I made up in my mind and feared would hurt me.
But the thing is, the addiction paints this false picture in your head that it’s just you and the wine in the house which is, of course and obviously, not true. In the house also is Netflix and comedy shows and frozen pizza and ice cream and chamomile tea. And books and music and phone calls to people I care about. And a big cozy bed with warm clean sheets and the perfectly weighted weighted blanket. And I reveled in all of those things and never once invited the wine into my chill little plans. Nor the whiskey nor even a cigarette. We had a lovely evening, my chill plans and I, and we didn’t need anything else getting in our way.
There was a nasty storm heading my way over night. Gale force winds and heavy slashing rain. Had it hit while I was sleeping it would have ruined my slumber for sure. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t catch a major break and mother nature took her time before dumping that punishing storm on my head. Nothing over night but peace.
I can feel that I am changing on a cellular level. I cannot explain it and I could never, ever have imagined it possible let alone how it would feel when I finally felt it. I mean you can try to read or calculate or surmise or logic or imagine yourself into a future you wish you had coming but are too scared to go out and get. But there are some things – some lessons, experiences, revelations – you can only grasp by doing the thing you have to do. By living it out in real time in real life. And the more you do it the stronger you become. The clearer you are, the more capable to deal with hard stuff no matter where it comes from because you are learning you and all along that was what you really wanted so desperately but didn’t know how to find.
As I get up in the quiet house alone, I pull on my hoodie and head down for coffee. The fresh ground beans smell like the real heaven, the kind where all your fabulous little senses are alive and beaming and taking it all in. I pour myself a mugful and suddenly hear the promised rain beating in streaming sheets down the kitchen window as the brutal wind kicks up, pushing the tall tree branches practically into the ground. The night gave itself to me easily and that fretful storm I had feared held off til morning. I sip my coffee, open the blinds, and type.