This past weekend was good. It was actually really good. But let me get this out of the way before I go into anything else: I took a sip of one of my boyfriend’s cocktails yesterday.
Yes, I took a sip. I did that.
I took a sip, knowing full well that it was an alcoholic drink. It was a little sip through a straw. And immediately after, I questioned myself and whether I thought I should start feeling guilty then, or later on. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to star self-flagellating right there in the restaurant during our nice dinner, or if I should wait until we were in the car on the way home. I was hyper-aware of my bodily response immediately following the sip, as if I were waiting for myself to start craving whiskey on the rocks or a dry martini.
But… something weird happened. I took that sip and it tasted like shit. Naturally. All I could taste was the whiskey, which was never my favorite type of booze anyway. No Sarsaparilla. Nothing else. Just booze. I didn’t like it, nor did it provoke a craving response in me. It just tasted gross, and I was turned off by it almost immediately. So I smiled and told my boyfriend exactly that – I can’t taste anything else but whiskey. He seemed surprised. To him, all the flavors were there. But, I really couldn’t taste any of them. I took a drink of my diet coke to wash the taste out of my mouth.
He offered me a sip with the disclaimer that he didn’t want to make me feel like I had to, and that he didn’t want to be “the reason” I gave up on sobriety. He knows about and fully supports my non-drinking, and hasn’t once pushed me or tried to tempt me into drinking with him. But it was a Sarsaparilla Whiskey drink and he thought it was so darn tasty, that he offered me a try – if I wanted it. I’m not really sure what possessed me to take a sip, and I know that the most rigid folks would say that I’ve completely trashed my 150 days of sobriety. Some people may think I should set my counter to 0. In this instance, though, I’m going to have to disagree with them. Not because I thought the sip “didn’t count.” I definitely tasted alcohol purposefully after 150 days of nothing at all. But because that single sip re-confirmed everything I feel about being sober, and then some. And it’s what makes me feel all the stronger in my 150 days of being alcohol-free.
Taking that sip didn’t make me believe that I can moderate. It didn’t convince that it was somehow okay for me to even try to moderate. I know I can’t moderate. It didn’t make me believe that just because I took one sip and wasn’t tempted that I could continue to take “just one sip” and not become tempted at some other time. It allowed me to see that I am not immune to myself and my own weaknesses, and that it’s important for me to continue to re-confirm my commitment to my sobriety, and often as I need to, so that future tiny sips don’t occur. Because even though I escaped this one tiny sip unscathed, there is no saying whether the next tiny sip will be the one that does it for me. And it’s important to be able to recognize that humanness and that proneness to error within myself, to avoid becoming too overly-confident in my sobriety, and to avoid taking it for granted.
What preceded this, you might ask? Well, the boy and I were celebrating our 1-year anniversary yesterday. We grabbed a lovely brunch around 11, went to a Broadway play in the afternoon, visited an art museum, and then headed out for dinner at a hot new restaurant in town. The day was lovely – good weather, good food, and good company.
The day before, I led an energized group of writers from my community in my fourth writer’s meetup group. The energy was vibrant in the tiny shared room. People from all different walks of life showed up. And even though I was a bit nervous about whether they enjoyed the meetup or not, they all seemed quite pleased toward the end of the event, when we had a chance to sit around in a circle and chat.
And before all that, this weekend was preceded by a pretty shitty week. I nearly walked out on my boyfriend at 12:30am last Sunday evening, ran into my ex on Tuesday, found out a friend had relapsed on Tuesday evening, and then had to deal with some last-minute school stresses that had been building up over the past week. My neck and back have been aching like crazy, and I’m certain it’s caused by a combination of stress and not having the time to go to the gym over the past several weeks. When all of this stress culminates into a few days of crap, followed by a nice weekend, I understand where the lapse in judgement about alcohol came from for that two-second period when I lifted the straw to my mouth and took a few drops to my tongue.
And this is the thing – life won’t stop happening like this. The high-stress periods, the happy celebrations, the dull in-between days, the arguments with boyfriends and the run-ins with exes… these things do not and will not stop happening. They are the things that can lead us to take tiny sips, and if we’re not careful, bigger sips, then swigs, then gulps, and then full glasses. Before we know it, tiny sips turn into tall orders and we’re right back where we started.
But despite all those things – the shit week, the great weekend, the tiny sip, the upcoming stressors – I’m standing here today with 150 proud days spend sober, and I’m looking into the future toward 150+ more days spent sober. And then 150 more. And then 150 more. Again, and again, and again.