This blog post poured from my non-poisoned pen during Catherine Deveny’s ‘Write Here, Write Now’ workshop whilst I abstained from drinking (freely available) alcohol
We are supposed to write whatever comes to mind for five minutes straight…all I can think of is alcohol. I’ve been sober, liquor free and off grog for a long time now. I’ve been dry for almost an eighteen month stretch… and I know I can never drink again. I only ever drank to get drunk. But I didn’t think I had an issue with alcoholism because I was an irregular drinker. The fact that they were binges and benders never crossed my mind of course. My husband once rightfully pointed out to me that, “If every time you drink there is a problem… you are a problem drinker.” Those words changed everything, and I decided to abstain from alcohol permanently.
I was a heavy smoker too and the habits really fed one another. Alcohol like nicotine is so addictive and my relationship with each respectively were fraught. It was almost to the point of self-sabotage and harm. But on the day, I met Dev and had dumplings it was different. I walked solo into a room full of writerly strangers for a blogging course. This is exactly the kind of event that would have driven me to drink two years ago…the unknown. As we lined up on the way in people ordered their glasses of red or white or sparkling. One by one I watched them fill their glasses with liquor.
These are precisely the moments when you can get caught off guard. Oh, that old foe and thought, “one won’t hurt… no one will even know.” I won’t lie, it crossed my mind. But at just 34 I have learned there is no such thing as one drink, nor one cigarette… not for me anyway. So instead of asking myself if I should just go with the flow and casually order a vino as to not “stand out” – I asked myself if I wanted to reinvigorate my problem drinking and probably end up with a cigarette in an hour and a half. Thankfully, the answer was no.
So, when my turn for a drink came I struggled to quietly say (while trying not to sound too lame or disappointed) …. “I’ll just have a diet coke thanks.” I hoped it didn’t sound too foreign on a cold winters afternoon in Melbourne surrounded by writing strangers because let’s face it when you’re in a room full of strangers more often than not you don’t want to be the coeliac pescatarian.
My diet coke came, and I didn’t feel any numbness, warmth or glow from that drink that I noticed. But then again, I didn’t need to go back to the bar either. I didn’t get the unquenchable thirst and start licking my lips like a blue tongue lizard from back in the olden days. Best of all I didn’t forget anything or embarrass myself. You’d be surprised what I could do in 90 minutes back in the day…. But I was even more surprised I could write this post sober in just five minutes as directed by Dev.
In a swanky place with a long bar so liquor really was an attractive prospect. You know that feeling where you can smell but almost taste the sweet spirits? I get the same feelings in fresh open country air it’s the smell sweet freedom with just a touch of nobody-can-see-me-here stupidity. I could have easily weakened, but I did not.
Instead I reminded myself of this:
There is so much in my life that makes it worth living and sobriety is now my only sound choice – as a parent, wife and person. I’ve had my party hardy days in fact I outdid myself and peaked too early. The truth is despite cognitive wiring and old habits dying hard I no longer need an escape from the world, the kind that alcohol provides. I have freedom, friends, family, nature, independence, exercise, mobility and writerly creativity. How’s that for a living spree?
I found that at the ninety minute Write Here, Write Now workshop (with Dev and a side of dumplings) there was absolutely nothing in the world I truly wanted or needed to escape from. The truth being, even if there was I know better. A mortified hangover or blackout never helps anyone. Drinkers remorse used to be the worst. I don’t even miss hangovers. I don’t miss drinking and smoking money and I don’t miss feeling out of control. My world is my support group. And it’s fulfilling enough without resorting to rosette colored goggles… Dev’s called time for pens down and I’ve 100% hung up the yardglass. Imagine what I could achieve at a Masterclass. 😊