Yesterday I was on the elliptical at the Y, scrolling through music to find a song to fit a black mood and energize, when I saw my husband and daughter walk past outside. My daughter had basketball practice so my husband was dropping her off and then walking to a local brewery for drinks and to pick up dinner.
I got really sad seeing them walk by. Not because they didn’t see me – they did and they waved and I waved back. I wasn’t sad because of how cold they looked hunched over and walking into the wind so quickly I almost missed them, though that was a sad sight.
I got sad because I felt like we were all doing our separate things. I’m not very good at basketball, but I like bars. In that moment, I wanted to jump off the elliptical – not even wiping it down first in my recklessness – and join my husband for a drink.
We used to do that on a lot of Fridays. Happy hour was pretty happy. Depending on how happy happy hour was, the hour five hours after happy hour was pretty slappy. The next morning was undeniably crappy.
In my self-pity, I wasn’t thinking of why I stopped drinking. I only thought of the nice buzz I got from beer #2 and how my husband and I might spend a good half hour trying to figure out if the couple across from us – he much older than her, with elbow patches on his blazer – were married or having an affair based on body language. Our body language was such that you would guess we were married, but far from that contentedly silent state some marrieds get to.
I’m mourning the happier times these days. That’s what I felt that day before Christmas when I burst into tears while wrapping presents. I just wanted to be normal and be able to have a drink. I did it all the time, and now I miss it. I did it all the time. I know. I get it. Believe me.
This morning I went to a 7am meeting and was genuinely happy to be there. The speaker was great and he read something from Daily Reflections and lo and behold I realized there is one passage for every day of the year because I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer or even the sharpest spoon. And there I was, showered and dressed and even bright-eyed, which I never could have pulled off the day after happy hour.
These are the trade offs. I don’t get to do happy hour anymore, no. I do get to work out and disappear into my own world for awhile and feel good afterwards. I get to drive home without looking in my rearview mirror the whole time. I get to wake up the next morning not feeling like I am probably going to die, the sooner the better.
I used to hate that dip on Friday nights when I crossed over from buzzed to drunk. It was a sign that the fun was over. Mourning is a tricky thing, but I hope to never forget that my fun with drinking is over and it’s never coming back.