01 February. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
I even do non-alcoholic holidays now!
I had a meeting recently in a pub. It doesn’t bother me now like I thought it would, for a long time I didn’t think I would be able to or even want to go into a pub again. I mean, what would be the point if you aren’t going to have a drink? Well, like I said, I had to. It isn’t the first time recently, a few weeks ago, I went for a coffee in a pub with some colleagues. The thing was that was quite explicitly just coffee. It was in the morning, there was no risk of anyone ordering anything more than a hot drink so I knew what to expect. This one was a lunch meeting, and it was the first time I’ve done that since I stopped drinking, and I had to walk in on my own. I didn’t really think of it until just before, I assumed that because it was work no one would drink. But then I started to worry a bit, and that is frustrating because it isn’t like I need to drink even if others are.
I managed to get a seat and there were lots of bottles of water on the table so I felt safe, so to speak. It wasn’t long before a gentleman came in with another woman. Before they had even sat down they were announcing to the room that they were going to try to avoid drinking, especially as it was still January (Dry January). He soon followed this by saying that the tonic waters they had just bought cost £4.50 so it would have been cheaper to drink alcohol. Then the conversation moved to how expensive drinking could be and the cost of various varieties of alcoholic drinks. I felt a bit uncomfortable as this wasn’t a conversation I wanted to participate in, and yet I didn’t want to be rude. No sooner had I thought this than another attendee joked loudly, “Boy, am I glad I don’t drink anymore.” I know this person also had a drinking problem in the past, but I had never heard them acknowledge it before, and I was pleasantly surprised. This comment was followed by, “Celebrating twelve years.” I said, “Wow, well done.” I didn’t like to say too much and yet I felt it deserved recognition, but where I was worried about drawing too much attention, this person just bravely said, “Well yeah, it was either give up, or die,” which made me laugh, as was the intention. Without even really meaning to, I just said, “It’s three years for me.” It’s the second time in a short space of time that I have admitted to people outside of my circle the truth, and the minute it was out of my mouth, I wondered what I had done. I almost expected people to be staring, wondering whether I was contagious or something. But no one else seemed to react, maybe they just didn’t care, but then why would they? My addiction and my obsession with what others think of me shouldn’t be the first and only thing that people think about when walking into a room. The person I was talking to congratulated me and the conversation in the room moved on, as it already was.
Later after the meeting, where I drank a lot of water and nothing else, the same person caught me and we chatted. Although we both knew of the other’s troubles, we had never spoken to each other about it, only through my husband. We joked about how we wouldn’t have been able to face being in a pub a while ago, but now neither of us were going to jump over the bar to down a quick one. Then when talking about our other halves, my friend even said with a smile that their partner could take or leave alcohol which would have been our downfall, we could take it but never leave it.
“Who is sicker?” I was asked. “Us, the drinkers, or them, the spouses?”
“Them.” I replied, to which my friend laughing out loud said,
“Yes exactly, why would they put up with us and all the crap we’ve given them over the years? What is wrong with them?”
It was funny to be so open about it, a relief to talk and not have to explain or be ashamed or embarrassed but just to laugh at the situation and our experiences in a light hearted way. It’s an experience I would never have chosen, but it has shaped me as a person now, and made me who I am.
It’s another experience ticked off my list, one that is no longer a trigger, but something I can enjoy if I want to. So, my thought of the day is not to push yourselves too far or too fast, but not to limit yourself either. We can do whatever we want to do now we are free.
Thank you as always for reading.