Last night I had an insane dream. In fact, I’ve had a lot more dreams in general since ditching the booze. Which is cool. But my subconscious is definitely trying to work some things out I figure. Like last night.
I dreamed that my husband and I were in this jungle land, only it was fantastical, with creepy faces coming out of the canopy and looking down at us as we moved along. Think Avatar meets Land of the Lost, with a little Headless Horseman mixed in. And maybe some Jim Henson scary puppet faces. We were on a journey to unravel a mystery. We had learned that I had spent five years during my twenties in a coma, and that I had been sexually assaulted while in the coma. It was our job to help find out by who, and learn what had actually happened so that I could heal.
Woah. I mean, woah. In the context of thinking a lot about my drinking habits throughout my twenties and thirties up to now, and reflecting on what mistakes I made and what I lost, this is deep shit. I mean, it’s kind of true, isn’t it? That I let myself walk through life in something resembling a coma. That I was never fully cognizant of the consequences of some very risky choices. That I certainly did things which I later regretted and that I am not fully healed from. All in the name of fun.
It was so easy then to write it all off as fun. A party. We would laugh if someone got sick. We would laugh at the stupid things we said or did. We would laugh about hookups with boys who’s names we couldn’t remember and who we would give labels instead. “Polish guy.” “Cell phone guy.” And don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a bit wild and free in your youth. I don’t have a problem with that. But for me personally, there were instances where it was a problem. Where I woke up feeling disgusted with myself and angry at the world, and vowed to take better care of myself. Those times chipped away at my self esteem, even if I didn’t realize that was the affect when it was happening.
Once when I was about 26, I had been in a bit of a downward spiral, partying too much on the weekends and dragging through the weeks. Putting myself in situations I should not have been in. Acting with a general lack of self respect. And it got to be too much. At the new year, I had had enough and I flew to Seattle to be with a friend of mine from childhood who is calm and soothing to me. I journaled. I questioned everything and seriously thought about whether I had an alcohol problem. I took a “serious” (three week) break from drinking. I promised myself I’d live a different life. And for some time, I did. I calmed down. It was a turning point for me. I started exercising and drank very moderately for the next year.
It is interesting to realize that was TEN years ago. Where I hit a sort of turning point (I don’t like the word “bottom”, but that’s kind of what it was.) And here I am again, ten years later, at another turning point. I certainly was no longer putting myself in risky situations with my drinking. In fact, I am living the dream, doing well in my career, living in a beautiful house with the love of my life and our amazing dog, and I have my family. My behavior improved since that day ten years ago. But my drinking only improved temporarily. And the thing I’ve realized is, that even when I drink the way everyone else is drinking, (i.e., 3-4 glasses of wine with dinner, maybe a nightcap), I seem to feel worse than they do. I beat myself up. I worry. I really feel the hangover and the insomnia and the foggy head, and the guilt. And I’m slowly making a connection that for me, drinking brings up the past. It makes me feel bad about myself, because I used to make very bad choices while drinking. Does that even make sense? It’s like opening up an old wound and pouring salt in it.
Of course it’s easy to forget that this is the aftermath when a beautiful, crisp sauvignon blanc presents itself, or a soft, silky pinot noir with some cheese… I’ll never not crave that. But the aftermath is starting to overshadow the pleasure for me. So when I’m in situations where the wine is calling, I will do as Lucy Rocca suggests in “Calling time on wine o’clock” and “play the movie to the end.” The end of the movie for me is guilt, headache, fog, shame, insomnia, perhaps crying or picking a fight with my husband… no thank you.
No more aftermath.