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Date Night on Day 70

Last night my husband and I enjoyed a spontaneous “date night” adventure.  The day had been a little emotional for me – we’d attended a family function for my relatives and I’ve been struggling with some tension there (see: No One’s Favourite).  We decided the remedy was to shift gears with a night out.  We wanted to hear some live music and I was willing to endure the bar scene if necessary.  We checked our small town’s event listings and found the perfect venue – the local folk club.

It’s been a few years since I’d been to the folk club, which is understandable since it’s only open one or two nights per month.  I’d played there twice myself, on open mic nights, and enjoyed the seniors-centre-meets-church-basement atmosphere.  The tables and seats are mismatched and practical, the bathrooms are hobbled together, the bar serves canned drinks and popcorn.  The stage is low and close to the attentive audience, and the sound equipment is excellent and well manned.  Nothing else matters more to a performer.

Within moments someone approached me who remembered my last performance.  “Are you still playing?” he asked; a question I hate because the true answer is ‘no’.  I have two small charity gigs over the summer and that’s it.  My voice is out of shape, my daily rehearsals have dwindled to weekly efforts at most, and even my guitar-player calluses have disappeared.  I just don’t have the heart for it right now. I gave my standard answer, “I’m writing my next album so I haven’t been on stage much.”

I continued to chat with a few more musicians and the familiarity felt as warm as a hug.  It’s an older crowd; an eclectic, welcoming mix.  I was misfit there myself with my stylish clothes and highlighted hair – my identity defined by a magazine and purchased at a mall.  Compared to the folksy vests and hats, the grey haired fellow in the sun dress, and the mom jeans everywhere, I felt silly in designer jeans and heels but knew I was accepted anyway.

We picked up our drinks from the cash bar at the back of the room – a paneled affair like that which might have graced your grandmother’s basement circa 1969.  “What do you have without alcohol?” my husband asks on my behalf. The volunteer bartender’s eyebrows fly up as he thinks for a moment. “We got some kinda fake beer but in all my years I’ve never sold one.  I don’t even know if they’re good anymore.”  “I’ll take it,” I say.  It’s fine and somehow suits the room and my mood.

It felt wonderful sitting in the darkened room, surrounded by others who love music more than they love fashion, status, alcohol, or being noticed.   It was a comfort to watch someone else on stage and not wish it could be me — performers often spend so much time working on their act and trying to book gigs that it can be torture for them to sit in an audience instead of being on stage themselves.  I confess I’ve often felt this myself and I was pleased to be free of it.

Our good friends had invited us to come by their home for drinks and snacks later in the evening.  We left the club and stopped to pick up a bottle of Perrier for me.  My friend knows I have stopped drinking (in fact, she was the one who I first opened up to, the first who said, “you’re right, you need to quit”) but I haven’t told her husband yet.  It just hasn’t come up and the longer I wait to tell people the less I feel I need to.  It just is what it is.  I drank my Perrier, they all enjoyed their cocktails, and we stood in the kitchen for hours laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company. Four friends.  Good times.  Nothing’s changed.

Well, something has changed.  We didn’t have t take a cab home.  I didn’t have to find a way back over the next day to pick up my car.  I didn’t wake up worrying if I’d made an ass of myself.  I didn’t berate myself for drinking too much, or promise myself I would change.

Instead I drove home, sober and still chuckling over the jokes and conversations.  My friend had told a hilarious story about quitting smoking as an anniversary gift for her (now ex-) husband and being so twitchy as a result that she screamed at him for not appreciating it enough and tore up the anniversary card.  We had laughed until we cried trying to determine which musician I physically resemble most: Steven Tyler or Shania Twain.  We had (literally) wrestled for position around the platter of nachos that we inhaled somewhere around midnight, and when we left it was with laughter and jokes following us out the door and all the way to our car.

I’d had fun, and so had everyone else.  I’d been fun! I’d been funny! I’d been sober and still made others laugh – something I’d forgotten was possible. The lack of alcohol was a sidebar, a footnote.  Resistance was not the axis of my thoughts.

This morning as my husband and I spend a lazy Sunday morning drinking coffee in bed, two sleeping pups cuddled between us while he reads his book and I write about my new life, I realize that I am feeling less fear.  I can cast my gaze a little further into the future and feel confident that my life will continue without alcohol.  I surprise myself by looking forward to summer getaways and other events.  Through reading other’s blogs and connecting online with sobriety supporters I have learned to focus on the present, that there is danger in looking forward or backwards.  So I use this new feeling, this freedom of fear, to live confidently in each moment without anxiety.

Before I left the folk club last night, I handed in a volunteer form.  I’d never offered to help out with the club before because my only focus had been in getting on the stage.  Last night left me wanting more of the camaraderie behind the scenes so I checked the boxes that appealed to me: “I am willing to help out with….set up/take down (yes); concession sales (yes); ticket sales (yes)…”

And then, after some thought, I considered the last box as well:  performing.

(YES)

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on May 29, 2011, in Getting Sober, Marriage and Alcohol Recovery. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. realize this is not a new post. have been reading your blog for a while. have been wavering on where should i stand with my own use of alcohol. it has long been a source of relief from anxiety and stress, a way to celebrate and a way to pass through boredom. i’ve read a number of things online and in book form on alcoholism… and i think i may fall into the realm of an alcohol abuser or alcohol dependence. there is a line in the movie smashed when the lead character describes her take on her usage as going from embarrassing to scary. i’m scared of the future, too, if nothing changes. haven’t gone for very long without alcohol in recent times. three days is the most. i’m on day three currently… hoping to get a long enough break to feel good again and see the tax alcohol has been having on my life. not easy, tho. appreciate your posts and your comment in the above about envisioning a good life ahead of you without the drink. very grateful

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  2. Hi Jean. I know this is an old post but I am 2 months sober tomorrow and am reading through your blog from beginning. My question is I am a bit confused about measuring my sobriety. I had my last drink ( actually 5 drinks) on January 26th. It was a Monday and I’ve been counting the weeks each Monday but this Monday will be 8 weeks and it will be March 22 so I don’t know if I am calculating it properly. Do I go by the date of the month or by weeks? Seems like a silly question but just want to make sure I measure correctly going forward. I have no plans on stopping and have built myself a good support system. Family and friends who know what I am doing so I can call on them when my resolve falters ( which I know it will one day)
    Thanks so much for everything.
    Amy ( Toronto, Canada)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Amy from Toronto! Nice to hear from a fellow Canadian! A huge HURRAH for two months. The answer to your question, at least from my perspective, is that your sober date it your sober date an you can count (or not) from there in any way you wish. I have an app on my phone that tracks it – there are lots of different ones out there. Some of them calculate other things as well, like how many calories and dollars you’ve saved by not drinking. However you choose to count, be sure you celebrate every single day. Take a second to feel gratitude when you open your eyes in the morning, and throughout the day – when you notice something beautiful, when you do something better than before – and again as you crawl safely into your warm comfy bed at night. Every day is special and an achievement to appreciate!

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much Jean:) wouldn’t have been able to do without you and your fellow Angels on the bubble hour. But I found your blog first. Hugs:)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You have given me hope that I will be ok in those social situations. I haven’t had to deal with them yet, but I know they are coming. This post is just spectacular!

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    • I sometimes find there is a moment of “longing” – especially when everyone is placing that first order for a drink. Something about that anticipation of relief. But then that passes and the rest of the night is easy. Don’t get frustrated with yourself – it takes time! UnP

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      • I love this – a longing and then it passes! I had dinner with one of my best friends the night before last. We were both not drinking – she’s pregnant and I’m choosing not to drink – but we’ve spent many nights finishing bottles of wine together. We both laughed to discover that we were having the exact same evening together that we usually did. We cracked the same jokes, we listened to each other just as intently, we enjoyed each other just as much. The only difference was that we didn’t start repeating the same jokes by glass three or four and then end the evening a little sloppy, slighter lesser versions of ourselves. It is extremely useful (and beautiful) to realize I can ride out the longing, that it’s just longing, and it will pass. I will spend time thinking about what relief means to me and why I am seeking it – that feels like a direct window into why I’ve been reaching for that glass these last few years. Thank you for this post.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, that’s exactly it! You’ve got it. Now spend lots of quiet time looking inside and pulling apart all those things you’ve told yourself were true….recovery begins there.

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  4. i’m a 26 year old graduate student and this post made me cry with hope for the future. today on a subway train i made the decision to get sober. one of my biggest fears is missing out on fun with friends (i realize how silly this sounds as i type). i know there are fears that i don’t even know i have yet. finding your blog has given me courage to write my own blog (to myself), thank you for sharing.

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    • Funny, you know I realized that I’m actually so much more fun now that I’m not always worrying if the cracks are showing. There is so much less pressure to hide, act right, watch others and fit in – it’s a relief and I’m having a much better time just being REAL 🙂 i wish that for you as well!

      Like

  5. This posting warmed my heart, you are smart, strong and vibrant. Congrats on your 70 days sober!

    M

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  6. Beautifully written, warmly felt. Thank you. And may God bless your every sober moment! ❤

    Like

  7. gidgetwithglasses

    Fantastic post and congrats on your progress 🙂

    I just left… like JUST left a 3.5 year relationship with a working musician. Most of his relationships have been with other musicians and I just could not relate. I would get so upset that he wouldn’t take me out to bars or shows, with no comprehension or understanding as to why. He could stay up until the wee hours at parties playing music and boring me to tears because even though I like to party and have put away my share of alcohol, leading to those unpleasant moments you describe, I have never been one to pull all-nighters. This willingness of him to do that but not the other was always taken as a personal affront. So, I have to thank you for sharing your perspective on the experience. Not that it will make a difference in my current situation, but it at least eases the self doubt.

    Cheers!

    Like

    • I feel for anyone who dates a musician! I hope you are doing well after such a big breakup. I think your next boyfriend should be a massage therapist who loves to pamper you! You deserve it after al those nights alone in the audience.

      Like

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