Today I'm 15 days sober, so "freedom" might seem like a funny thing to talk about. But I think it's the word I'm looking for to explain these strange pangs of relief I've had all week.
One was Thursday, when I called for a hair appointment, and the only one available was 7:00 PM Friday night. My first response was, "Oh, I don't think I can make that..." until I realized I didn't actually have a plan, I was just so used to being well into my cups by seven, so I would never, ever, ever schedule an evening appointment for anything. It was a relief to say, "Yes, actually, seven would be fine, thanks." I know it's no big deal. This happened all week, and none of these moments were a big deal. But they all felt like teeny little "aha!" moments. I don't have to drink wine all evening, every evening. I can do this, or that, whatever it is, any evening at all. Read a book at night? Sure, and I'll even remember what I read!
In a few weeks, my partner and I will be taking a bicycle trip to visit his parents. In the past, we have loved to have long dinners together, which includes drinking plenty of wine. They are not heavy drinkers, so that means they will have two or three glasses of wine, tops. Usually I have managed to limit myself to the same, probably squeezing in a few more with wee top-ups and so on, but I was always aware that I had to keep a sharp eye on that. Sometimes, when I had too much, I had to brave out the next headachey morning, smiling brightly at what a fun time we all had, ignoring the significant glances that came with the "How are you feeling this morning?" and vowing silently to myself to be more careful next time. As I got more and more comfortable with them, careful got harder. So I had been worrying about this upcoming trip. And then, when I committed to myself that I would go 100 days without drinking, that meant I just won't drink on this trip. To me, that thought should be super-stressful, but it feels like an enormous weight taken off. You mean, I can just enjoy the evening and not watch every glass to see how much everyone else is drinking and whether it's time to have more?
So it seems to me like making the commitment to not drinking is a kind of freedom. I've always thought of wine as one of my greatest pleasures, and whenever I've even contemplated moderating, or when I've struggled through quitting for a few days here and there, I've thought of it as giving up on an irreplaceable kind of joy. This time is somehow different. I have a sense that I'm getting a whole lot more than I'm giving up. The whole "romance of alcohol" is starting to feel like one giant scam that I fell for hard, and for years! I'll think about this. For now, the new sense of freedom feels mighty fine!