You know that feeling when something is clearly bothering you but you haven’t identified what it is? When you have zero patience and no ability whatsoever to tolerate the sound of anyone’s voice talking to you? When you feel nauseous, your head throbs as if it’s about to explode, and your eyes just start crying?
That was me today. I woke up like that. I didn’t know why, so I decided to be good to myself. I ate breakfast and drank tea, went snowshoeing, cleaned out my car, worked on laundry, cooked my kids and myself a hot lunch, and went to my son’s hockey game. When we got back home, I fixed a broken sink and then ran myself a hot bath.
As I soaked in the tub, tears began gushing from my eyes and I heard my voice say, “What the f*** is wrong with me?” Is it because I’m not ready for Monday? For years, Sundays used to put me in the most foul mood as I prepared for the week ahead, feeling like everything in the house had to be perfect before I could have any chance at focusing on my job and succeeding at the work life balance.
Suddenly, I realized what it was. I don’t want tomorrow to be Monday. I’m not ready. But, not for the usual reasons. In fact, I’ve been conflicted about Monday since last Thursday. I have a difficult decision to make, and I haven’t given myself a chance to work through it.
Some women with whom I volunteer are getting together tomorrow morning at one of the women’s homes. I have been looking forward to this gathering for weeks. Most of the women are only acquaintances, and I have been excited about getting to know them better, outside our monthly business meetings.
Last Thursday, the emails started flying. The host checking about food allergies. One woman offering to bring a casserole. Another saying she’d bring salad. As I brainstormed what to contribute, I was blindsided by the next email. “I’ll bring the Prosecco,” it read.
You know the sound of the Wheel of Fortune wheel rapidly spinning around and then slowly clicking to a complete stop? That. The wind, sucked out of my sail. Wait a minute. What?
The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Day drinking while the kids are at school. I can’t go there. It’s not that I’m nervous I might relapse. I know I won’t. I just can’t go hang out at someone’s house where there is alcohol being consumed at that hour and I won’t be able to enjoy myself and there are so very many other, more worthwhile, things I can do with my time.
Sure I can. I can do anything. One of the things I most pride my sober self on is being present, not bailing out.
It’s funny. When I was interviewed for a local radio program last week, I was asked how I make sure I don’t relapse. I can’t recall my exact answer, but it was something like this: “I don’t spend a lot of time around drinkers anymore. I don’t host moms nights and I rarely attend them. I think long and hard about every single invitation I receive and I make decisions about who I want to be with and if the people involved are really worth the time spent away from my family, my business, and myself.” I have made a very conscious decision to limit my exposure to mommy drinking.
It’s not that I can’t go; it’s that I don’t want to go. I don’t want to force a smile and fake my way through what will be extreme torture for me. I don’t want to deal with the, “Aw, come one, just have one.” Having to explain why I can’t, and defend my addiction.
I tried to talk myself into going. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. I tried telling myself this is an important opportunity to potentially educate others. I am completely uninspired.
My husband came to ask me when I’m getting out of the bath. “Never,” I answered, and I shared with him what was going on.
“They know I’m in recovery,” I sobbed. “Why didn’t they ask me if I’d be comfortable with them drinking?”
“They just don’t care,” he offered.
I couldn’t believe that. I’m sure they care. And, I wondered. Would I have checked with the sober person before deciding to serve alcohol?
They know. And, they didn’t ask. Are you supposed to ask? If the roles were reversed, would I have asked? I don’t know. I’d like to think I would have. But there’s no way to say for certain. Because I’ve never been in that position. And, I never will be.
If this was dinner, I don’t think I’d have batted an eyelash. But it’s breakfast. On a Monday.
I’m so angry. My head hurts and my eyes sting. I’m trying to talk to my husband and choking on the lump in my throat.
I’m not mad at these women. Not at all. Jealous, maybe. Maybe. But, my addiction is not their problem. I’m mad at myself. I’m so angry that my alcoholism is making this so excruciatingly painful.
I feel like I’ve been robbed. Sobriety has given me so many incredible gifts. I treasure them all and I wouldn’t change a thing. But, the anxiety I feel when I think about everyone sitting around, sipping their bubbly and raising a glass to welcome the New Year is nothing less than suffocating.
For the first time, I realize as much as I have an incredibly stocked toolbox for maintaining my sobriety, I’ve been hiding from some of the really tough stuff: The social situations where people other than family and very close friends are drinking. Normal mom stuff. Because, I’m not a normal mom.
As I prepared for the arrival of 2017, I chose strength as my word of the year. Yet, no matter how I try to approach tomorrow’s gathering, I simply cannot find the strength for it.
I feel so defeated. Less than. And, I have never cried so hard or been so physically ill over something that doesn’t involve death or a broken heart.
Oh my Laura, I understand exactly how you felt because I’ve felt the same. My gut & head felt, sad, angry, annoyed & envious. I’ve talked myself into going….once. The women were initially supportive until they started feeling buzzed. A few proceeded with the “Oh, c’mon, just some wine; you’re so funny, you’d be hysterical loaded” The next invite, I feel empowered to “Just Say No.”
Thanks, Amy. I feel horrible for not going. But, we have to do what’s best for us.
The most bitter pill I have ever had to swallow is that most people are not invested in my choice to be sober. I made the choice, renew the choice daily and move forward remembering that the sober may be the “good example” rather than the “horrible warning”. The hardest situations for me are those where women of my age drink to much and remind me of the drinking me – the drunk one – the one with the freedom of no boundaries and often a sharped tongued comedian. They also remind me that I could be that woman who has a thick tongue repeating herself, lipstick on her teeth, weaving in her steps. What a marvelous decision we have made. I wanted to live a life of no more regrets and here the opportunity is – I will be damned if not being able to drink or fit in is going to be one of those regrets!
You are magnificent – happy to be on the road to happy destiny with you.
Enjoy your week!
Thank you, Carla! So very happy to be sharing this journey with you! XO
I’m sorry you’re faced with this on this Monday. Hang in there.
I have friends who don’t drink. It’s not been an issue as to whether or not they attend an event…at least I didn’t think it was. Now that I know better, I will do better. Thanks.
Thank you, Thea. I appreciate it. I am curious about your friends who don’t drink. May I ask whether they choose to abstain or are they in recovery?
Drinking problem or no, imbibing in the morning is just crazy. Unfortunately it has been normalized by certain TV personalities.
I’m sorry the world is like this. I probably wouldn’t go either. I know old me would have brought the booze…
I smile very involved in yoga and there are many yoga focused courses and retreats I see and would love to attend, but in the fine print it discusses wine tastings and happy hours.i refuse to go on a retreat and have it become “spring break”. I’m probably over cautious, but I am with you. I just font need to be around booze. Even after 3 years of sobriety.
Old me would have brought the booze, too, Anne. And, I am constantly trying to put myself in the shoes of those who can drink normally to make sure I am not crying foul where I shouldn’t. You’re right, easier (and best) to just distance ourselves from the situations that no longer fit, overcautious or not. Keep up the great work! XO
I love your writing.
I am now almost 2 1/2 sober!
I have the flip thing happen…it’s much easier to be around people I am not real close to, and harder around my close friends and family.
Lately though, the anxiety has been much much less.
I never did have anyone ask me to a 9am drinking party, though.
Hi Wendy! That is really interesting, but I completely understand it. I don’t think the gathering was a drinking party per se – I didn’t go – but, I never expected it to include booze. In hindsight, I am glad I found out in advance so I could make the best choice for me. XO
I meant 2 1/2 Years!
I never go to mums’ drinks. I find them excruciatingly painful and boring. I will do the coffee mornings, which are hard enough but I have to put my sobriety first. I’ve made some great friends from going to the coffee mornings too!
Me, too! I can go to a dinner or other event where people might be drinking, but I can’t simply sit among a group of people just drinking.