It has been five weeks now – thirty-five afternoons and evenings of saying “no” to myself repeatedly.  I am starting to find my groove and feel comfortable with my decision.  Fear is waning and confidence is soaring.  The daily chest pains from anxiety have quieted to butterflies.  I can send them away with a few deep breaths.

I am letting my guard down a little – I don’t feel the need to focus on this constantly.  I know I must be growing familiar with it because every once in a while I remember, “Hey! I’m a non-drinker!” and then I carry on folding laundry or writing ad copy or whatever task is at hand.

I’m not gritting my teeth.  My nails are growing again. My bowels are regular.

To be fair, I haven’t had any major challenges or upsets, either.  I know those will come eventually and I will face them as they do.

The Internet has been such a help on this journey – there are tremendous bloggers to follow, incredible support through the folks I’ve found on Twitter, and encouraging, informative comments on this blog.  Clearly, connecting with other people is key in recovery.

Just as I was surprised to find so many people like me who were steps ahead in the journey and could offer guidance and advice, I am equally surprised to find others in need, a step behind me.  Wait, oh –what? Now I am someone’s role model? Holy Dinah.  Never saw THAT coming.

Some of the comments on this blog have been so moving that I’ve contacted the contributor directly to offer support.  Oddly, the song I posted the other day is a song I don’t know well at all.  It just popped into my head – complete lyrics to a song I hadn’t heard in many years – along with the notion I should record and post it.  To say I felt moved to do so would be an understatement.  How interesting then, to read the comment that this song meant an enormous amount to a reader. Hmmmm. Coincidence? Nah, I don’t believe in coincidences.  We have been in contact via email and hopefully she will find the strength to begin making changes.

Thank you to all who suggested drink alternatives!  I have made some pleasant discoveries and am incorporating many of your ideas.  Seriously, did all the wine kill my imagination? I can write music and design buildings and decorate a Christmas tree to rival Martha Stewart’s but I can’t come up with a refreshing drink? These are the mind contortions we create in order to keep drinking.  “Wine is the only thing I want right now” was a fib I told myself.  I am actually enjoying trying new things and look forward to trying the Grapefruit Perrier that I’m saving for Easter dinner tonight. (Hah – take that, Brain.  Now who’s in charge of delayed gratification?)

Most importantly, I am starting to feel comfortable with myself again.  Right now I am alone out at our cabin and I do mean ALONE.  The cabin is at a small ski hill and since the hill is now closed the entire community is deserted.  I drove out last night so I could stay over and spend this morning painting and doing a bit of light maintenance before driving back for the family dinner at my folks.

It’s dark here at night and quiet and frankly a little scary.  5 weeks ago I would have used that as a reason to drink more – easily a whole bottle of wine would have been gone.  Last night I watched 3 episodes of Mad Men (talk about drinking!), read a magazine, ate a little more than normal, and then I pushed myself…..just before bed I went out to soak in the hot tub.

Little me all alone at the foot of a mountain in the dark – I felt small and vulnerable.  Also insecure because of the swimsuit I was wearing – imagine that! Scared because I am all alone and still worried how I look in the dang swimsuit.  (“What will the squirrels think?”)  I briefly wondered how long it would be before I was discovered if a bear ate part of me and left a limb or two on the deck.

All of that vanished from my mind the moment I looked up.  Oh, the stars are something in the mountains on a clear night.  So many of them I could actually see them without my glasses.  Dang it! I’d forgotten to wear my glasses. I braved a run back inside and out again for the sake of improved vision – I wanted to see everything.  Further fleeting insecurities about wearing my glasses but forget that as well – the sky was spectacular!  I could hardly discern the constellations because of all the extra starts visible in between.

I knew that on such a night it would only be a matter of time before a shooting star appeared.  I leaned back and started to count – counting helps control my thoughts from racing and also it kept my mind off the bears and cougars and body-conscious squirrels lurking in the dark.  Sure enough, a shooting star appeared between “88….89….”.

What did I do next?  What would you do? Without even thinking, I started counting back at “1” again.  By “10” I realized what I’d done.

I’d failed to acknowledge that I’d just gotten exactly what I wanted.  I’d failed to enjoy the splendour of that shooting star because I moved right onto wanting to see another one.  I forced myself to stop watching the sky. I closed my eyes and remembered the shoot star I’d just witnessed and I gave thanks for the gift.

“What if there’s another one and I don’t see it because I have my eyes closed?” asked the bratty voice in my head.

“Then you have the memory of the star you did see,” came a gentle answer from the motherly part of my brain. “Think about it and be glad.”