Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sober Christmas #3

I just celebrated my third sober Christmas-  and am looking forward to a booze-free New Year's Eve. Not drinking isn't something I think much about these days- it's just something I do.  I'm getting used to saying "I don't drink"-  and am still surprised at how often the reply is "Oh, I don't either".

To anyone just starting their Sober Journey-  it does get so much easier with time.  Most people in my family drink-  an evening glass of wine, or an occasional beer.  We are all comfortable with the fact that Mom doesn't drink now- and it doesn't cause me a pang to see them order and enjoy their tipple of choice.  They are all fortunate in having an alcohol Off Switch and rarely overindulge.  Me?  I've got that faulty Off Switch which says "Another one or two please" when it should be saying "Thanks, that's enough".

For my personal psychology, it works best to say to myself "I'm choosing not to drink right now".  That doesn't mean I will never ever have another glass of wine- I may.  But not in the near future.

The longer I am in Not-Drinking mode, the more I notice how much of our culture contains alcohol. Family holidays, festive parties, quiet evenings by the fireside-  so many idealize alcohol intake.

And our media are rife with the romanticizing of alcohol.  Even for me, this can push buttons.  It is not the big party scenes or the fast car with the fine whiskey and the sexy guy. It is the quiet moments that occasionally give me a momentary yearning to drink.  The dark cozy bar, the glass of excellent vodka on the rocks, for example, with the light in the bar coming mostly from the fire in the fireplace, with maybe a leather armchair and a well-filled bookshelf in the background.  Or the pale summer day, lunching on a terrace overlooking a pastoral scene, with a cool crisp glass of of a dry white wine.  When I notice yearnings such as these,  I dissect the scene.  Wait, I tell myself, you can have most of what seems so attractive in this scene without the alcohol.  What about a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream in the fire-lit bookroom with the decadent armchair?  What about a tall glass of sparkling mineral water with a lime for that early summer luncheon on the terrace scene?

Only once recently did I have a spontaneous (not triggered by advertisement or social situation) thought about drinking.  Following a particularly stressful day, after a final Straw/Camel's Back moment, the picture of a cold glass of wine popped into my mind.  I was quite surprised, and it was not hard to say gently to myself,  "Oh, wait, darlin', that's not how we handle stress these day!  Remember?"

I often find myself grateful for the gift of not drinking. I love the feeling of always being present, and of being capable of dealing with any challenges by finding answers or solutions.  This is a big change from my former approach of avoiding unpleasant things by drowning them in alcohol.  It has surprised me to find out how very competent and capable I am-  not at all the fragile victim I appeared to myself when I was drinking.  The sense of trust I now have in myself and my actions feels just fabulous-  so 2016 will be another non-drinking year for me.

Picture me raising my glass (sparkling mineral water with a bit of cranberry juice, such an fabulous pale pink) to toast to a fabulous 2016 for You! and for me!!