Forced sobriety hasn’t been terrible.
I’ve realized the thing I miss most about it is the social aspect of it and the fact that it’s an “activity”. Gone are Sunday Fundays, after work happy hours, patio sitting, wine sipping, finding any excuse to sit in a bar.
OK fine, I’m a little bummed about it.
But the real adjustment came when I took alcohol out of my relationship. Not only did sitting at a dive bar provide us something to do, it also numbed some of the anxiety and self consciousness of being with someone one on one. That’s not to say that I was actively looking for a way to ease the awkwardness. It was just there.
I’m guessing for many couples, the act of drinking together takes up some portion of their relationship (whether you’re consuming the same amount is another issue). Because getting buzzed or drunk with your friend and partner is fun. It’s a mutual letting go, self medicating together.
But without alcohol, there’s nothing to hide behind. It was a little surprising to realize how much I relied on drinking to get me through certain moments. I was forced to reevaluate things in the harsh light of sobriety. Gone is the false self-confidence and assurance that things are Going Great!
It’s strange to think about it this way, but my boyfriend knows the real me more than he did when I could get drunk. Drunk you is only a part, a side and yeah, something they should probably get a taste of, but it’s not about really getting to know who you are as a person. So far, we have a lot less dumb fights. I don’t wake up with a pounding headache wondering if I said something stupid or knowing I did and having to apologize. I also don’t wake up wondering if he meant the things he said or if it was just drunk talk. Our discussions are no longer clouded in the haze of loose lips and thoughtless words.
We have to entertain ourselves without the help of a morning Bloody Mary or red wine nightcap. We have to do things like sit next to one another and just talk or be comfortable with the silence, unable to reach for the glass to fill in the gaps. We’ve had to find other ways to release. Obviously this is what a relationship should be, but for many of us, it’s not.
This might sound sad, but these sober months confirm my true feelings. I know that what I feel for him is coming from a genuine place and whatever fears I have can’t be drowned out by a few gin and sodas. This love has never been so real.
In the end, we’re both preparing for life with a little less booze once this kid comes. Learning how to function without a crutch that as parents, would debilitate us a bit. Though I’m sure there will be 19,000 times we’ll want to down a bottle a wine after a long, trying day. And 9,500 of those times we actually will.
Trust me, when this whole thing is over (i.e. AFTER breastfeeding), I’m going to drink a cocktail the size of my head.