LEARNING HOW TO DINE OUT AGAIN, 2 WEEKS SOBER

It has been two weeks since my last drink. This should be a celebratory moment but I haven’t yet learned how to celebrate without ingesting the thing that I would be celebrating abstinence from. Still, I recognize this milestone as positive and am glad I haven’t gotten wasted in 14 days.

Saturday I felt wonderful. I went out to dinner for the first time since stopping. We sat down at our table and my boyfriend quickly put the wine menu underneath his food menu. I know he was trying to be helpful but I never ordered wine anyway and didn’t need a menu to order my usual dirty martini with olives. We ordered Diet Cokes and water instead. The people on either side of us were going to town and murdering glasses of white and oddly colored novelty cocktails. But I felt totally fine. I thought perhaps it would feel awkward but it didn’t. I did have a moment of guilt that the BF couldn’t have some wine. Well, he could have if he wanted to. And I’m confident I would have still been able to enjoy myself and refrain. But he chose not to which meant a lot. I said, “You know eventually this will get to the point where you can have a glass at dinner with me around and everything will be fine.” “I know,” he said. “But you know this won’t work if you ever decide to drink at home,” I replied. “I won’t,” he said. I felt very supported, safe, and worth something. The fact that he is willing to alter his own alcohol use for me told me a few things. First, it told me that he was obviously not an alcoholic. And second, it reminded me that he cares about me very much and wants me to be healthy and happy.

We scanned the menu deciding what to order. Normally I would have been very concerned about food prices because I needed to save as much money as possible in order to be able to get my 2-4 drinks. I found myself doing the same thing even though I wasn’t going to drink. I was still protecting my budget to allow for my drinking. Once I recognized this behavior, I immediately shut it down and ordered two appetizers which is something I would have NEVER done. I would have talked my boyfriend into not getting any because I knew the 15-20 bucks would be better spent on getting drunk. It was so freeing and sort of exciting to be able to order and try whatever we wanted without the stress of overspending. Our conversation was much more complex and stimulating than normal. The food tasted better and I savored every bite. THIS IS WHAT GOING OUT TO DINNER IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE!?

On the walk home I wanted to tell the boyfriend about my “big revelation” about the true joys of dining out but I didn’t want to sound crazy so I kept it to myself and now share it with all of you. Also, the walk home would normally involve me manipulating and carefully placing suggestions with the hope of us swinging by the liquor store to grab a bottle of something. He would normally be okay with this after having had a couple of drinks at the restaurant with dinner. And if he wasn’t okay with it, I would have gotten all assertive and would tell him that I was an adult and could do what I want. He would give in and wouldn’t say anything more in an effort to avoid a confrontation. We would go home where he might have one more drink and I would pretend to have one more as well but would create excuses to go to the kitchen and quickly down shots in secret. The following morning would involve me being miserably ill and him not understanding why because as far as he knew, we drank the same amount. Depending on how ill I was, I might sneak down to the kitchen in the morning and have a few to help me maintain until midday. Then I would be miserable again from noon until early evening when I’d again manipulate the evening to make sure we were drinking again somehow. I am SO RELIEVED that I don’t have to go through that cycle of lies and misery anymore.

So far, the moments of being UP are short lived and are typically followed by extended periods of lethargy, boredom, and strange discombobulation. I was walking to laundry yesterday and I could logically acknowledge the fact that it was a nice day. It was as if I was registering the fact that the weather was good as some strange robot who is programmed to know that something is pretty but doesn’t have an emotional response to it. It felt as if I was looking at the lovely day through some lens that made it also appear fake. I often have the sensation that I am dreaming or not actively participating in my life. And then moments later I can find myself suddenly extremely present and happy for no reason. Thankfully, my moods alternate between joy and indifference but I have yet to become sad or depressed. I can deal with even keel and happy just fine. I’ll take it. Indifference is better than the despair and angst I was feeling before.

So far so good. I just wish the fog would clear.

3 comments

  1. hey,

    congratulations on two weeks! so great. on about my third weekend i started to settle into a really nice weekend-morning routine (newspapers, books, tea) that’s now probably my favorite thing about being sober. i hope there are some rhythms creeping in for you that you’re starting to love.

    i absolutely get what you mean about not always feeling present. that always felt normal, even obvious, when i was drinking (duh! i drank myself unconscious then spent a day trying not to vomit, of course i wasn’t particularly mindful). but i’m starting to realize that it’s actually a big part of what made me drink in the first place. i’ve always felt slightly out of it, too stuck in my own thoughts to really engage with anything that was going on — it didn’t feel like such a leap from my normal disembodied mental state to being drunk. without wanting to sound like some sort of internet missionary creep, i’ve found that meditation has helped a LOT with this. i started meditating a little bit before i stopped drinking, and i really think it played a huge part in getting me through the crappy first month or two, and now i feel like it helps me to enjoy every day a bit more. not sure whether it’s something you’ve dabbled in, or would consider. they do introduction to meditation sessions at tibet house near union square every tuesday, for a $10 suggested donation.

    1. Thanks so much for the meditation tip. Maybe I’ll check it out! Congrats on your continued success as well.

      While I haven’t settled into any specific routines, I do find myself suddenly very appreciative and peaceful in any given situation. I could be reading a book on the couch on a Saturday and become overwhelmed with joy that this is something I can actually do now and enjoy when I normally would be in bed miserable counting down the hours before it’s acceptable to get up and start drinking again. What a WASTE of life that was.

  2. Loving your blog!

    I’m on day 6, and for me it wasn’t a dinner out, but cooking, hosting company for the evening at my new house. All night long that little demon saying ‘you’ve quit, congratulations, have some wine while you cook’ or ‘look, these guys are only drinking a couple each, why not join them?’… It’s kind of reassuring, those thoughts when I haven’t even hit a week show me how hooked I am and precisely why I shouldn’t drink. I often mutter under my breath “I’m in charge now, bitch!” when my drunk ghost rears his ugly head.

    I know that sneaking into the kitchen feeling oh too well. Or sneaking to my car. And of drinking before the restaurant, because “drinks are so expensive we should drink before we go” (as if getting drunk was the purpose of the night) ..

    And you know how you say about feeling separated, not quite in the moment? Hard to describe buy yeah, I get it too. It was worse when I was drinking.

    It should clear up the longer sober. Anyway, occasionally feeling out-of-it isn’t as bad as actually being out of it.

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