Going back a few years, a place you would often find us on a Sunday afternoon was a local pub we liked with a lovely restaurant. The main reason we went so often was because they did a good carvery that was good value for the five of us, (it was before there were six). I also liked the fact that when we went there it meant I could have a few glasses of wine, and as it was a Sunday, that always seemed perfectly fine. It gave us a nice excuse not to cook, and to relax as a family. Back then not much got in the way of me having a drink if it was offered, even if I’d had a few too many the night before. It always seemed like too good an opportunity to turn down, so I seldom did.
Of course, when I stopped drinking, just day to day living was hard enough. Getting through the normal things proved enough of a challenge on it’s own so there was no way I’d walk into a pub. Or a restaurant. Or a cafe. To be fair, almost everything reminded me of drinking in one way or another, so it was easier not to go out unless I really had to. I think I thought one day it would just click and things would fall into place, and go back to normal, but because I didn’t push myself, I didn’t make it any easier on myself.
It didn’t help that my anxiety was really bad towards the end. I used to stress out about eating out, so the only way I could was if I had a drink or two, or three. I worried about everything, from people watching me, to whether I was wearing the right clothes or saying the right thing. I even worried about where toilets were, and had to check there were some close by before I could relax. It seems almost silly to think I worried so much, about what some might think are silly things, but I did. I would worry so much, that it made it hard to eat, and I’d often begin to panic, some episodes were worse than others, but it didn’t make eating out very enjoyable, and when there was no wine involved, there seemed little point. Especially when going out would mean I’d have to watch other people drinking, and I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with it.
On Saturday Lee and I were talking about Sunday, and planning what we’d do. I’m not sure even who suggested it, but the idea of going back to that restaurant came up and we decided we’d do it. Of course, the morning came round and we had other things to do, we needed to take Barn to work, and as it was raining we decided we wouldn’t take Stanley to the beach as we often do. I had to pop to the shops and so we did that, and by the time we’d done it all, it suddenly seemed a bit much to go out for lunch too. I didn’t want to make it into a big thing, as I think placing expectations on occasions can make it harder to just enjoy them. I was all set to go home, but Lee often knows the right moments to push me, and so drove past just to see how busy it looked. Once we were in the car park, it was easier to go in, just to see what it was like inside. We could always leave after a glass of coke, if we didn’t feel comfortable. So we popped in. We hadn’t booked, but they had one table free, big enough for the three of us, so it was obviously meant to be.
I have to say, for something I have been putting off, it was lovely. That experience was one of the closest replicas I could get to a time when I was drinking and yet, it was good without wine. We had a beautiful Sunday roast and Stanley was really well behaved.
It goes to show that things change frequently when you’re in recovery. Things that seem impossible aren’t forever. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go to a familiar pub to eat, but I did, and I am so glad I managed it. We don’t have to rush, or push ourselves, but we do need to remember to be kind to ourselves. It takes a long time to become dependent, so it is only fair to assume recovery will take just as long. Maybe longer. That’s okay. Every day without alcohol is a win, everything else is a huge bonus.