Another alcohol-free weekend is in the books! Saturday came with moments of pretty strong cravings, they even set in early in the day. When I tried to distract myself by taking a long walk with my husband, even that didn’t seem to chase the urge away. Despite being inundated with St. Patty’s Day talk, it wasn’t the bar crawls and green beer (pure blasphemy in a glass) that were calling my name, I outgrew that madness years ago. It was a different kind of bubble that I wanted on Saturday – I was missing my early day champagne that I had started to grow accustomed to before giving it all up.
I was a little taken aback by how strong the cravings were hitting me and how much they continued to stay with me on Saturday, it’s like they kept coming at me in waves. I had just wrapped up a very good week, one where the obsessing about alcohol relented a bit, so I wasn’t very pleased to stare the demon back in the face on what should have been a nice, relaxing day. I was undoubtedly tense and knew I had dinner out with friends that evening and I wasn’t sure I was going to be in a position to go through with it. We left our house several hours in advance of dinner to run a few errands but given my level of anxiety, my husband cut our errands short. Instead, he suggested that we hit our favorite cafe and share a French press and early dessert. Normally, when we would have time to kill like this, it would involve a stop at a favorite bar for a drink and that is exactly where my head kept taking me. But, over our cup of perfectly brewed coffee, E looked right at me and reminded me that there are always other things we can do that don’t involve alcohol. He reassured me that I am building new patterns and the old ones would eventually fade, but that it was normal for me to still feel stuck in the not-so-long-ago routine. He was right, years of habits weren’t going to be broken in a few weeks, even if I’d had a few good days.
All of my cravings lifted during that trip to the cafe, calmness set back in and I even took on dinner like a champ – initially. Our friends know that I’ve quit drinking and they were kind enough to text me in advance that they were having a “beverage upstairs” which meant a drink at the bar, and they would come down to meet us when we got close to the restaurant. I could see they were trying to avoid having me come to the bar if I wasn’t comfortable, which I appreciated, but I headed there anyway. With my newfound strength, I perched myself on a stool and ordered a club soda with a splash of cranberry. I didn’t even feel phased by the drinks in everyone’s hands in that moment. It wasn’t until the middle of dinner when they ordered a bottle of sake that I nearly lost my composure. The bottle presentation was so beautiful and the server provided a very detailed description of the beverage that left me wringing my hands under the table. The voice in my head was telling me to have just a tiny taste so that I could truly get a sense of this exquisiteness. I really started to believe I could do this, just a small bit to get the taste in my mouth. I didn’t need to have any more than that, what harm would a taste do? I managed to get my wits about me in time to tell the server that I wouldn’t be partaking and ordered another club soda, instead. Once again, even though I hated it, I chose wisely.
The sake craving probably only lasted about 5 minutes, but it was long enough to make me realize that I was going to be faced with this many times in the future and I’m not sure that I’m strong enough yet to always refuse. That inner roommate of mine can be very convincing sometimes and until he (yes, I’m referring to the devil on my shoulder voice inside as a he – no offense intended guys) quiets down more regularly, this could present some unnecessary challenges. I don’t exactly want to just stop socializing with my friends altogether, but I may need to limit my exposure to some of these events so that I’m not faced with this so often. It’s definitely an odd position to be in, and a little lonesome. I don’t want to be the person at the table who talks about her problems with alcohol and makes everyone feel guilty or like they can’t order what they want. There was even a moment when the sake was being ordered that I had a slight reaction which prompted my friend to close the drink menu and proclaim they wouldn’t order it. I immediately felt bad and reassured him not to change anything because of me, that they should absolutely order as they normally would. The last thing I want to be is the person keeping everyone else from having a good time, but secretly inside it would also be nice to be around people who really could take it or leave it.
This feels like a story that I’ve already set on repeat and I’m not positive how it will play out from here. But, I did ultimately enjoy dinner that night. It was tapas style Japanese, because how else does one celebrate St. Patty’s Day than with the traditional Japanese dinner? The meal and atmosphere were out of this world, I had good dialogue with our friends and the server and the best part, once again, is that I remember every moment of the experience. That continues to be the most fun for me.