2 Big Milestones
Last night I faced two pretty big milestones that I didn't even know I had been avoiding. First, I walked into my old, favorite liquor store for the first time in over a year in a half. This was a place that I used to frequent quite often, multiple times a week. It was a big moment for me.
I didn't even realize that I hadn't been in there for so long. It wasn't as if I had been purposely avoiding it, there was just no need to shop there. But yesterday, we wanted to grab a bottle of wine for a friend's 40th birthday. We never keep alcohol in the house these days because Evan doesn't drink that much anymore, so on the way to the party we stopped in the store. It was such a bizarre experience, because it used to be such familiar space.
I expected the store clerk to recognize me and found it funny when he didn't. I felt like I was stepping back in time, as I was flooded with a rush of memories from my Covid drinking days. I thought back to a wine tasting event pre-Covid that I did one afternoon on Mother's Day several years ago. I chugged tons of samples, going through the tasting lines over and over again, refusing to leave the store even when my friends were ready to go.
I remembered another time, towards the end of 2020, when I stopped in to grab a bottle of vodka to replace a handle I had drank in less than a week. This was all in the hopes of desperately hiding my drinking habit from my husband that was rapidly intensifying.
Last night, as I scanned the dozens of bottles of rose, many of which I no longer recognized, I experienced a feeling of calm. I felt grateful. I was at peace. I felt happy to be walking through after all this time, shopping for someone that wasn't me. There was no sadness. I did not feel angry nor did I experience nostalgia as I stared at the pink bottles of Scarpetta, my former favorite brand of bubbles. I felt nothing but freedom.
Later, when we arrived at the party, I experienced another huge milestone. I had a sip of my first non-alcoholic beer. I tried an Athletic Brewing company IPA. I have avoided drinking non-alcoholic beverages for fear of the taste being a trigger for me and putting me in a bad headspace. But recently I have been saying to Evan that I wanted to try a nice quality beverage this summer, if the atmosphere was right. Last night seemed like as good a time as any - celebrating a friend's birthday on a beautiful summer's evening.
After last night though, I am confident that I do not need N/A beer to have fun. I know some people really enjoy these types of drinks, because it makes them feel like a part of the scene. For others, the taste tricks their brain into relaxing when feeling that initial awkward anxiety in social situations. The flavor simply induces a feeling of relaxation for many people, because there are those that genuinely enjoy the taste of beer or wine. If you enjoy N/A drinks - good for you. There is no judgement here. I just realized that I don't need them.
For me, I didn't drink alcohol for the flavor. I rarely drank because I enjoyed the taste. I drank purely for the reason of getting drunk. I chased the buzz and that's it. I didn't drink because I liked the delicate sweetness of a summer wine. No way. I wanted to escape. To numb myself. To fall into darkness. I didn't care how cheap the quality of the booze was, I drank to disguise myself. In actuality, I had a lot of social anxiety and fear of not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am grateful those feelings have subsided with sobriety.
That is not me anymore. I am no longer anxious and terrified, suffering from a fear that grips my insides. I am free. I am joyful. So it doesn't surprise me that I am not a fan of N/A booze as a sober person. I don't need to be reminded of that flavor from my past. But maybe you love them - if you do, then that's great! Kudos to you. For me, I prefer a nice, cold glass of seltzer. Or a Diet Coke. Or even a cup of milk with a chocolate chip cookie dipped in it instead. For me, there is no need to bother with a fancy N/A IPA to have fun on a Saturday night. And good news - last night they had chipwich's for dessert at the party, so after my single sip of N/A beer. I was able to say - wow that tastes ok, but I don't need that to have fun, and I was able to get rid of the taste with one of my favorite flavors - cookies and ice cream. I wasn't triggered. I didn't feel on the verge of relapsing or running over to the bar and chugging from the vodka bottle, which I think some people actually believe I might do at times. I am so far from ever wanting to consume alcohol ever again.
I am proud of my accomplishments last night and the clearheadedness I felt at the end of the evening. I placed my sober head on my pillow and went to bed grateful for another day of not having alcohol in my life.