At my last session with my psychologist, a couple of weeks ago, conducted via Zoom, me on my bed, her in her pristine kitchen, I told her I thought I was ready to graduate for now. A health crisis for someone I cared about had passed the critical stage (though it will have a long tail), my unfulfilling job was over, I was going to get a hug that weekend as we entered level 3 and I had kept it together pretty well throughout solitary lockdown. So I asked her how to introduce alcohol to my life again.
I know what you’re thinking, why did I bother stopping if I was just going to start again? But it was always my intention to be able to have a drink in a different way than I had used alcohol in the past, once I was ready for it. How can I know if I’ve truly actually changed me otherwise? If alcohol is always verboten, then it’s always this black shadow looming over me. I’m stubborn enough that I want to know that I can choose to drink, but choose to drink in a way that meets my values. And I love food & wine together. It’s part of my hospitable nature. So we talked about setting baselines. How much did I want to drink, when did I want to drink, what outcomes were acceptable to me? I said that I wanted to continue to not drink alone throughout lockdown, and generally not drink by myself unless it’s _a_ glass of wine with a nice dinner I’ve cooked – not a bottle of wine and some toast instead of eating vegetables. I won’t drink in times of H.A.L.T – hunger (read: instead of food), anger, loneliness or tiredness (read: exhaustion). I will drive to events more so that I stick to a two glass maximum. And I will allow myself occasional nights with more for celebrations, like my upcoming 40th birthday. And if that becomes too much, and I can’t drink in a way that aligns with my values and I run the risk of hurting people including myself again, then I’ll stop for good. It was a really encouraging conversation, and it allowed me to be proud of what I’ve actually achieved.
I had my first half glass of rose that Saturday when I got to go to BAMJI’s for dinner at level 3. It wasn’t that amazing, but the half glass of red after dinner was incredibly lush. Since then I’ve had a glass of wine on a date, and a glass of bubbly and a small Bailey’s at a family dinner when we reached level 2. It was nice to not have anxiety about where the next glass of wine was coming from knowing that I actually just couldn’t have any more. I send a picture of every glass to Jo as a weird way of being accountable, which makes a nice change for her from the neverending repeats of photos of my butt I normally send her. I must admit that every clink of Tom’s wineglass on a glass table when we’ve been doing pub quiz over Zoom has given me a Pavlovian response, and I’m really looking forward to going wine tasting this weekend in Martinborough, but I think a lot of that is about a return to normalcy, albeit a better normal.
That date was lovely but ultimately I am not in a good place to have a relationship. After I called it off, someone sent her screenshots of a closed-group conversation I’d had when I’d talked about the reasons I stopped drinking and the specific harms I had caused, so that wasn’t….great. I will always hold myself accountable, and you should too, and I recognise the importance of keeping other people safe. And I’ll talk about my actions if you ask me – and I’ve written about it pretty in-depth here on Hubris too. But knowing someone I trusted (though I’m not sure who) felt the need to take those screenshots in the first place – well that’s really not a great feeling. To be honest, being reminded about it (not that I had ever forgotten, that I ever woke up without thinking about it) was also a really gross feeling, but that’s something I need to carry anyway. I might have to check back in with my counsellor, which I am extremely lucky to be in a position to do.
Other than that, I am excited and scared to be able to go to the gym and go swimming again. I avoided it this week because Karen was having surgery and I wanted to keep my bubble real tight but our family is going to Martinborough this weekend so it’s time to get out in the big bad world again. I’m going to have to stop wearing my Jo Jo Jim Jams every day, boo. They really are the very best garments for lockdown, but I’ve had a couple of issues with some size 1 pants actually being size 3 which is a nightmare. In better news I have new dresses to pick up this weekend which I am certain will all be gorgeous since they’re made right here in Wellington and it’s a pattern we’ve done before, just in new colours, so that’s good Boom news. I’m still debating whether or not to order more Jim Jams. Why is being a business bitch so hard? Anyway, lunch is almost over so I had better try and tidy a few things before the eagerly anticipated return of MY CLEANER (#bougie) and getting to see darling Sara this afternoon who is coming to catsit. I hope you’re doing okay. Let’s pretend it’s 2003 – leave me a comment and tell me how things are.