Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 27 - For Sake's Sake

The last weekend of the cleanse is over!! Yayyyy!!

I wanted to mention I did something sort of unusual, cleanse-wise, last week. I booked two back-to-back non-drinking social engagements.

Wednesday night saw me have sushi dinner with Alison, a college roommate - and one of my oldest friends. We've been trying to get together for a while now, but she's busy with her own film production company and it's not always easy for us to meet up. When we were trying to schedule, the hubs was a little shocked. "Why don't you wait until after the cleanse is over?" he said. "Then you can have wine with dinner."

That made me laugh. Because it's true. I usually prefer to schedule lunch/dinner/coffee/everything ... around drinks. But I lived with Ali for years. She probably saw me sober more than any other person I went to school with. Because she was there in the morning for coffee and toast. (Not to mention those rare occasions where I was actually in my bedroom, at my desk, sober and working on assignments.)

I told the hubs that I spent a good part of my youth with Ali. "If there's one person in the world I don't have to drink with, it's her." When I mentioned it to her later, she said it was the highest compliment I could pay her. And she's right. ;)

Alison got to the resto first. She wasn't sure I was still on my cleanse, so she ordered a large flask of sake. (Ali was the person who introduced me to sake, sushi - and the dangers of wasabi mustard - years ago btw.)

When I got there, I ordered a cranberry and soda - one of my fave cleanse drinks at a resto because nobody bats an eye at you. (Some people might even ask when you're 'due.') Ali seemed to feel badly at first - the way people are taught to feel badly around alcoholics who can never drink again. But I told her it didn't bother me at all - and it doesn't. For one thing, I'm not staring at a whole lifetime of abstinence. Just 'X' more days. So I told her to enjoy the sake on her own and we raised our glasses - cheers! We didn't stop talking the whole night. Catching up on new stories. Sharing some old ones.  I had an amazing time. I really did.

I know this might be hard to believe for people trapped in the cycle of addiction - that you can actually have a good time out with a friend - even when you can't drink. Because one sober night by yourself seems impossible. Let alone sitting across the table from someone who's drinking when you can't touch a drop.

But regular cleansing helps you become accustomed to living without alcohol. You learn to be a sober person - at least some of the time. You learn to handle life without the effects of alcohol. Essentially, you re-learn how to be you. Stripped of the easy padding that drinking gives you. It's important to learn to be okay with life when you can't drink. And regularly cleansing helps you do that. At least it has for me. (Of course, I am looking forward to dinner with Ali when I can partake in the sake!)

Next time, I'll talk more about lunch with Alisha, my friend from ballet class, because I went out with her the very next day. Even though your social life might scale down a bit when you cleanse - especially when it comes to hard drinking friends - it doesn't have to disappear completely. You can still be yourself - and enjoy yourself. Even when you can't drink.

But for now, I can't sign off without mentioning two high-profile people who laid their drinking problems out in the open last week.

20/20 uber -anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced she's checked herself into rehab for what she calls her increasing 'dependence' on alcohol. This is exactly the kind of problem Ann Dowsett Johnson outlined in her new book, Drink. According to Dowsett Johnson, it's typically highly-educated, professionally successful women who tend to drink more than ... well ... the rest of us. ;)

But unlike, say, Lindsay Lohan, whose rehab stints usually involve a few embarrassing crotch shots and/or drunken cat fights before check-in time, Vargas handled her problem with characteristic grace. She simply stepped quietly away from the anchor desk a few weeks ago and will return when rehab is over. Like everyone else with alcohol addiction, she says she'll be taking things 'one day at a time.'

Of course, we can't forget Toronto mayor Rob Ford's latest escapades, either. For anyone who doesn't watch the news or late night talk shows, where Ford has provided the longest running joke since David Letterman's Top Ten List, the mayor of my fine city finally admitted to smoking crack cocaine last week. His excuse was he was in a 'drunken stupor.' Wow. The lesser of two evils, I guess.

After another video was released - this one showing the drunk mayor uttering death threats and doing his best to imitate what appears to be an albino baboon fending off a pridme of lions - pundits are asking the mayor to seek help for his drinking problem, too.

But Ford's family doesn't believe he needs treatment for booze, so it's doubtful Rob Ford will be doing Betty Ford any time soon. According to CBC News, if the people closest to you don't think you need help, it's far less likely you'll get it. So we'll just have to see what Mr. Mayor has in store for us next.

In the meantime, like Elizabeth Vargas, I'm handling my drinking problem 'one day at a time.'

As in - one more day to go!!

Um ... yayyyy!! :)