It’s taken me a while to figure out what to write about this. I was so confident that I would succeed with this 100 Day challenge, like, no problem. Well, I didn’t. So I’ve been sorting out what happened these past few days. Questioning everything. And here I am on day one again, recommitting to a fresh 100 Days, starting today.
On Friday, I hosted our office’s annual holiday party, as many of you know. I wrote about it several times as it was approaching because I knew it would be a challenge. I was pretty nervous about how I would pull it off in general, let alone sober. 50 – 75 people in my house, many of them senior attorneys to me, lots of unspoken tension in our office throughout the past year, loads of booze being carted into my hands ahead of time by our generous attorney’s association… I knew going into it that it was a bad idea to take this on. That my fledgling sobriety was totally at risk. But it’s not like I could back out of the party; despite all the advice I read telling me to protect my sobriety first, to have an exit strategy, etc… that simply wasn’t a possibility in this situation. If I had known that I would be taking on being sober at the time I volunteered to host the party I just wouldn’t have volunteered at all. But I was in it, and I had to get through it. So I changed my mind.
It was as simple as that. On Friday, I got through a relatively smooth morning in court, tied up some loose ends, and left work early. A co-worker met me at my house to put a turkey in the oven and I started transforming the place in preparation. Buffed glasses, rearranged furniture, set up the bar, (danger), put out the plates, napkins, and generally worked myself into a frenzied rush to get things done on time and get myself into my dress. Once I was finally ready, black dress on, makeup done, candles lit, I had a moment to myself. And I thought to myself, fuck it. I’m drinking tonight, it’s my party. I just… changed my mind about staying sober.
It didn’t feel any more dramatic than that. I told my husband I was having wine. He raised an eyebrow, but he generally does not think that my drinking is near the problem that it feels like it is, internally, for me, so he was not worried. He lets me be. Sometimes more than I wish he would, although even if he had tried to argue with me I would have seamlessly convinced him that this was a logical decision and nothing to worry about, and that I’d go back to being alcohol free the next day.
So, I drank wine on Friday. The first glass was, in that moment, the most crisp and delicious thing I thought I’d ever tasted. That momentary pleasure, though, seemed fleeting. I felt guilty for a moment. As people arrived I let myself just not worry about it. I had as much wine as I wanted. I didn’t keep track. I did make sure I drank water throughout the night. I didn’t really get drunk. I did get tired. I felt heavy. I felt a bit irritable toward the end of the night and was surprised that I felt unable to let go and really enjoy myself despite the alcohol. Saturday I felt generally horrid, but I also have a bad cold (made the drinking decision all that much smarter!) so it was hard to tell if I was hungover or not.
Saturday I had a memorial service to attend for a family member very close to my mother. Two hours before the service, she called and told me she was too sick to attend, and that she wanted me to speak on her behalf. I felt shaky and didn’t have much of a voice, but I’m fairly used to public speaking so I agreed. The experience at the church is a whole separate post in and of itself, so I’ll save it for next time. But to cut to the chase, it was an intensely emotional day. When we got home I immediately had a beer. And then two or three glasses of wine. I barely thought about it. I thought, “I’ve already ruined 100 days. Might as well take a couple days off.” I felt crappy. Sunday, the same thing happened… come 5:00, I realized there was half a bottle of wine left in the fridge. I figured I better finish it so it wouldn’t be there anymore.
The truth is I just didn’t want to face this moment. The redo. The starting over. The bummed, disappointed feeling of knowing that today should be 30 days and now I’m starting all over again. But here I am. And instead of feeling bummed I actually feel glad. I feel like I was taking my sobriety for granted a little bit and still looking back on drinking with rose-colored glasses. And over the past few days I really learned something. I learned that all alcohol did was make me feel like I wanted more without making me feel all that good. It wasn’t as fun as I remembered. It didn’t feel as good as being sober. Sure there’s that moment or two in the first couple drinks. Sure, I felt more “normal” with a drink, like I could bond with my co-workers better, like I didn’t have to face any uncomfortable questions about myself and why I wasn’t drinking. But in retrospect, I would rather have the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of health, the feeling of control and confidence I felt during the 27 days I was sober.
Now, even more than before, I know what I’m doing this for. I don’t want this anxiety I feel today that I know is a result of my alcohol intake the past few days. Now I know for sure that it was alcohol that was causing this imbalance all along. Now, I know that I can live without it.
So here goes, again. Sobriety, take two. Thanks to all of you for helping me see that life is better this way.