Life with a normal drinker

My husband had minor surgery on his hand a couple of weeks ago. The other day the surgical site started to look a little funky: swollen, yellowish, and was super tender to the touch. So he called the doctor who prescribed an antibiotic. He stopped at the pharmacy after work and asked the pharmacy tech if there’s anything he should avoid while taking it.  She couldn’t give him a clear-cut answer.

He comes home and searches the drug on the Mayo Clinic website.  Sure enough, there’s a strong caution about avoiding alcohol while taking this medication.

From the other room he calls to me, “Hey, hon – you’re gonna have some company for the next week!”  I have no clue what he’s talking about, of course.  So he tells me he can’t drink while on this antibiotic.  To him, it’s no big whoop.  He doesn’t even bat an eye. I find that kind of approach to booze absolutely fascinating. Bewildering, in fact.

If that had been me, I would have probably talked to the doctor BEFORE he prescribed anything, nervously making sure that whatever he gave me was safe to take if I ‘had a glass of wine or something’. I would have felt an inner panic rising if I had been faced with a whole week in which I couldn’t drink. I’d have done EVERYTHING in my power to ensure that I was prescribed something that wouldn’t interfere with my wine consumption. And if that failed, I would have been completely, 100 percent miserable.

Add that to the list of reasons I really needed to quit drinking.

…And you know what REALLY pisses me off?

This stupid alcogenic culture of ours really makes me crazy. And I have to admit that I used to be as guilty of this as the people who suffer from the same mindset.

If you were talking to a friend or acquaintance and told them that you’d quit smoking, what kind of response would you get? “Oh my God that’s AWESOME, good for you!” would be the typical response, right? Because it IS awesome.

How many of you told a friend or acquaintance that you decided to stop drinking and got a less-than-positive response? Something more along the lines of, “YOU???? Really???” Or how about this one: “You’re not going to drink? Not EVER?”

Because in our society if you don’t drink you’re a weirdo. There’s got to be something wrong with you.

I used to keep a mental list of people I’d met who didn’t imbibe. No explanation given, just – no, thanks when they were offered booze. They fascinated me. And really annoyed me, more than a little, too. What the hell was WRONG with them? Who DOESN’T drink? Why in the world would anyone opt NOT to?

Funny how 197 days sober changes one’s perspective, isn’t it?

Thoughts on Becoming a Grown-Up

This is what’s on my mind today…. You don’t get to your mid-fifties without going through some shit in your life. I’m no exception, without going into too many gory details. We married young and were pretty poor (had just enough money to cover the bills, had one car and lived in a two bedroom apartment) for the first several years of our marriage. I clearly remember having less than a dollar in cash between the two of us on one particular Monday before pay day. I became a mother just two weeks after my twenty first birthday.There have been health scares with our kids, a handful of surgeries (routine and a couple of pretty serious operations), the deaths of three of four of our parents, about five years of hell when our daughters were traveling the long dark road of heroin addiction….

Yeah. We’ve been through some shit, alright. And during every crisis we tucked and rolled and got through it and fell apart afterward.

But something interesting has been happening in the past six months. I’ve really been working on ‘feeling my feelings’ since walking away from booze. It’s not been easy, just sitting with discomfort instead of medicating it away.

Yesterday, the hubs had minor surgery. Now, I should tell you that he is the most amazing person. He wears so many hats in his job and accomplishes everything he sets out to do perfectly, with precision and integrity and complete attention to detail. He is very tightly scheduled and even more tightly wound. If you looked up the definition of “Type A personality”, you’d see his picture in the dictionary.

Well, we get to the surgical center at around 10 for an 11:15 procedure. And we wait. And wait some more.

They finally take him back to the pre-surgical area. Then they call me to come back and wait with him until the operation. We wait some more. Then we wait a LOT more. There were a few points at which I thought he would lose. His. Shit. Not get abusive or anything, but – he was almost literally crawling the walls.

I couldn’t blame him. You’re nervous, of course – and then you have to wait for almost three hours past your scheduled time??? Seriously???

But here’s the difference: I was able to sympathize and empathize and just let him vent without absorbing all the tension like a sponge. I didn’t fight it or resist it, even though reacting that way isn’t my thing. It’s like I was able to just let it run through me instead of soaking it up, marinating in it, and wanting to punch something. And then, like in the old days, biding my time until I could get home, get him settled, and have a drink. Or three. To just shake off the stress.

Afterward, he was so appreciative and sweet and thanked me a bunch of times for keeping him from going crazy… And I thought, “This must be what being a grown-up is. You just handle shit without having to medicate to get through it.”

Anybody else out there having these revelations? Doesn’t it feel so good to be a grown-up?

Gratitude: it’s what’s for dinner!

Silly name for a blog post, but I’m feeling particularly thankful and happy today. Sobriety has become my new normal; just got back from another romantic little overnight trip with the Hubs. Another successful sober getaway under my belt.

And speaking of gratitude, here’s another thing that happened recently that is so unbelievably lucky, I had to share it with you…

My husband marks our milestone wedding anniversaries with a lovely piece of ‘bling’ for me. For our 30th anniversary five years ago, he gave me a gorgeous ring studded with several channel-set diamonds. I love it and never take it off. I should also note that I can’t be trusted with nice things: if something can be accomplished effectively at 5 mph, I just can’t do it that slowly. I’m hard-wired to go at least 55. Consequently, I tend to damage/chip/ break anything unfortunate enough to cross my path.

So, a few weekends ago, I decide to have all the kids and grandchildren over for homemade sauce and meatballs. I get the sauce on and proceed to clean the house. After I dust, scrub, vacuum like a woman possessed, I notice that one of the diamonds in my beloved ring is missing. I. Am. Heartsick.

So, lapsed Catholic that I am, I throw a little prayer up to Saint Anthony (patron saint of lost objects). And then I let it go, because I figure that stone is looooong gone. I mean, what are the chances I’ll ever find it again? I figured that it must have been vacuumed up or something, right?

Well, the next morning, I was emptying the dishwasher. I slid the Keurig out of the way to make more room on the counter for coffee mugs. And – lo and behold – what to my wondering eyes should appear – there was the diamond from my ring!!!

I very carefully put it away and plan to have the ring repaired soon…. And I promise, I’ll be much more careful with it – I really will.

So, friends, I have no idea what any of this means. But I kind of feel like it might be a little pat on the back from the Universe.  A sort of, “You go, girl!”, from the Powers That Be….?

‘Cause this past six months ain’t been easy.
But so worth it.