One idea I hear often from people either currently abstaining from alcohol or contemplating it is the concern or disbelief or pre-grief that they might not be able to “share a glass of wine” with friends ever again. In (what’s the opposite of retrospect?), it can be big roadblock.
While I certainly can relate to hesitations concerning specific social situations that were hard to imagine without wine (time with a couple of family members in particular), the idea of missing the “sharing a glass of wine” in general is deceptive. It sounds so normal and innocent. Calm and beautiful and even romantic. Who can argue with beauty and yummy and connection? And it is those things for some people.
But it isn’t those things — calm, beautiful, romantic –for anyone who finds herself bemoaning the loss of that image. It isn’t, by definition, those things for us.
“Sharing”… awesome. There’s nothing like a good potluck. Or dinner at a fusion/Asian restaurant with someone you’ve known since you both went freelance and who taught you to carve spoons and whose divorce you helped him through.
“Sharing a glass”… also yes. There really is something to the sparkle of the glass and the drink, and the clink when my glass runs into yours. Looking around a table at ten dear friends all with raised arms, toasting Rachel’s birthday.
But all three? The only thing that includes beyond the sharing and the raising of glasses is — wine. The calm, beautiful, romantic components of the sharing and raised glasses is still available after we quit ingesting all things containing ethanol. We still get every bit, every last shred, of the sharing.
The moment it matters what’s in the glass is the moment we wake up and re-see the alcohol problem. The same concern that can deter a person from quitting alcohol is also a marvelous wake-up call. Since it can be hard to get one’s mind around this in the abstract, just quit already and wait a few weeks and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll always remember the moment when it dawned on me that nofreakingbody got to have an opinion about what chemicals got poured into my system when I “shared” that “glass.” Someone else’s benign raising-a-glass-of-wine was my raising-a-glass-of-stress-hangups-addictive-voices-desperate-desire-for-the-rest-of-the-bottle. To get my own calm, beautiful, romantic sharing-of-a-glass, I raise a glass of something safe and perhaps even nourishing. Though nourishing is optional. Usually it’s just fizzy.
May you be having good times this holiday season, staying warm and keeping a soft, safe inner space for yourself amidst whatever you’re amidst.