For 50 exhilarating and sometimes-despondent days, I didn’t drink. My parents told me I seemed “so much calmer.” My rear-end seemed to have magically tightened and lifted itself about an inch.
But last Monday, while having dinner with a friend, I ordered one glass of pinot grigio and sipped it slowly. It was part of my new experiment to drink only when there was an “occasion” of sorts – and to limit myself to two, no matter what.
My friend and I saw a movie; I went home, proud of my self-control.
Driving home the next day from work, I spotted one of my favorite local bands setting up for a concert at the neighborhood park. I drove to the store and bought a bottle of wine, debating myself the whole way and tossing up half-hearted prayers. At home, I carefully measured 10 ounces – the equivalent of two glasses – into a plastic cup and headed to the park with my blanket.
Again, I sipped slowly. That worked until I ran into two gregarious friends who shared their champagne with me. And another friend who shared her sangria. Then I went home, poured myself another glass of wine and watched “Smashed” – a movie about a young woman who quits drinking after facing too many scary mornings-after. I woke up hung over, on a Wednesday morning.
Of course, the only thing that steadies a hangover is booze, so the following evening, I drank two glasses of wine. Two glasses = no big deal, but combine that with the half-sleeping pill I took, and I have zero recollection of eating the S’mores Blizzard that was in my freezer. I groaned loudly when I saw the empty cup in my bathroom trash can. I looked up the calorie count online – 420 calories and I don’t even get to recall the pleasure of how it tasted??
Thursday night, I drank almost an entire bottle of wine – not sure what “occasion” I imagined for myself, to justify the consumption. I woke up mildly hung over on Friday, the day I would host my daughter’s sleepover party. Knowing I would need a nap, I decided to work from home. (Always conscientious about work, I made sure to get everything done and then some.)
Around, I wanted some wine to ease my headache, but I didn’t want to drink before any of the parents dropped off their kids. One mom came by; I asked her if she wanted something to drink. She said a beer, so I poured myself some wine – careful to control the amount in case she was judging. (She wasn't.)
A couple of hours later, my husband – we’re separated and share custody of our daughter – came over to help with the party. I continued drinking wine while he drank *one* beer. He had been very supportive during my 50 days of sobriety; and now, he was supportive of my attempt to moderate.
“You haven’t had any more than two, have you?” he said. “Come on, don’t fall off the wagon.”
I laughed. “I’ve already fallen off the wagon.”
Later, outside, in the backyard, we talked while the five beautiful little girls splashed in a small pool. My husband noticed the blue plastic cup in my hand. “Are you drinking more wine?”
“Why? Why are you doing that to yourself? You were doing so great.”
I paused, and then poured out the wine in the grass, explaining how it’s every alcoholic’s great obsession to be able to drink normally. I had to admit that my experiment had failed, and failed quickly. Cunning, baffling, powerful...
The next morning, I woke up understandably tired after trying to keep five energetic girls fed, comfortable and happy - but I felt great. I played games with the girls and had fun.
And I had to hit the reset button, after 50 days of sobriety. I’m now on Day 2.