What’ll you have

I survived a slumber party with six girls still using their outdoor voices at 3:30am and only threatened “don’t make me come down there again or it won’t be pretty” one time.  I was once an 11 year-old girl, so I know they were just doing their jobs.  Being a parent is filled with moments of indescribable joy, but I’m also reminded time and again that Karma is indeed very real.

The birthday party wasn’t something I was looking forward to. I was excited for my daughter, but stressed in the way I always get  over seemingly little things like coordinating plans and interacting outside my normal social circle, which is so tiny it’s really more a dot. This is my comfort zone and I am happy there.

We started the party at a bowling alley and I worried over things like ordering enough pizza and carrying two pitchers of soda and cups and straws in one trip because it is in my nature to make things more difficult in an effort to make them easier. As I made the precarious trip from the snack bar to our lane, a dude with the most impressive mullet-mustache combo I’ve seen in some time came down the stairs from the bar carrying a pitcher of beer and stepped out in front of me. He was either drunk or oblivious, and I side-stepped him and we did that awkward thing where we walked in step for a bit. He finally stopped and struck a gleeful pose for a friend with a camera and I wished for some time afterwards that I was him, mullet and mustache and all.

The girls in our party had a lot of fun bowling. There was another party of 12 year-old boys two lanes down and I observed a lot of furtive glances and that boys interact at half the decibel level of girls. The bowling alley was hopping that night, so it was no surprise when a couple came to bowl at the lane in between. My first thought was uh-oh because they looked so sweet and childless that I thought for sure we would ruin their evening out.

But you know what? They were just the nicest people. The woman –  a relaxed, smiling blond in a black hoodie and jeans – and her quiet husband took turns bowling and drinking from their pitcher of beer. The woman confided that they were enjoying the novelty of being around such a boisterous bunch since they had no children of their own. I’m sure the beer didn’t hurt, but they really were terrific sports about the whole thing.

The night went without a hitch, not including my 3:30 am hollow threat because 1) it was inevitable, really, and 2) that was the next morning anyway. I had quite a few moments at the bowling alley where I thought about beer and daydreamed how it might feel to be curled up in its welcoming arms, but I know that’s like saying I miss an abusive ex because he made the best cheesecake.

The whole night took me back to the last time we had a big slumber party at our house, which was one year ago. I was on the wagon at the time, taking a 30-day break so I could “reset” my tolerance and start drinking again like a normal person. It didn’t work (it never did), but that night I had the twofold comfort of knowing I didn’t have to worry about drinking but that I would get to resume drinking soon enough.

Before I went on the wagon that time, I had my last drink at a hole-in-the-wall place that had really good french onion soup and Guinness on tap. We had stopped there after a long morning of car shopping, so that first beer was like coming home after a long day and taking off tight shoes. I took this picture of my coaster because, well, I’m the kind of person who takes pictures of old coasters.

When I was talking to my husband last night about the party this weekend, he had no idea I was stressed out at all. I kept it so hidden I carried it alone. I never thought about picking up a drink other than a surprisingly refreshing cup of Pepsi (what is it about Pepsi from a pitcher that tastes so good? ), but I fought a war with myself just the same.

It strikes me more and more that struggling on my own is not much better than using booze to take the edge off. I have tools and I am learning how to use them and the hope that keeps me going is that this time next year it will be a little bit easier.


11 thoughts on “What’ll you have

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  1. Since my cousin is your friend and I have empathy for your battle, would you consider emailing or texting me when you need someone to chat with? I’m eminently available, retiring in two days as I am…


    1. Wow. Retiring! I hope you do something you’ve always wanted to do with your new, free time. I hope it involves writing since I love your style and flow…you have a rare gift.

      Thanks so much for the offer. I will certainly do that and appreciate it more than you know. What I need to work on is recognizing a moment when I can use support…and not days later. Baby steps.


  2. Hey there. I used to take breaks to ‘reset my tolerance’ as well! It used to work and I’d start back again at a slower rate than before, but it would soon creep up to heavy drinking again, then I’d take another break, and so on and so forth. The last time I took a break, the 2nd night after I’d started again I drank over a bottle of wine myself. That was very close to the end. We are much better without the booze, even if we do feel sad about the reality of having to abstain completely. You write really well, I enjoyed this post, cheers.xxx


    1. Thanks, Mrs D. I can relate so well to your last break. That was me the second to last reset I tried. Why I attempted another, I’ll never know, but ultimately it ended the same. I was thinking about that on the drive in this morning. I can miss drinking here and there (and probably always will) but the truth is I feel so liberated now. It took a long time to accept that it was easier not to drink at all than it was to have that feeling of no control over my drinking.


  3. Noisiest thing in the world – more than one teenage girl with another one… anywhere! Seriously my daugther is a neighbourhood noise nusiance – I think our neighbour is deaf!

    It gets easier – seriously it does. Just because you’ll get into habits that don’t have drink involved.

    Saturday was my daughter’s swimming club annual awards disco. It was a “pool party” as a leisure pool (slides, wave machines etc.) we didn’t go for that bit, Daughter wasn’t fussed and I had a rugby game to watch… and wail over the result! Anyway we still turn up way too early for the presentation bit. I bought a large Pepsi (still can’t buy a small anything, and I won’t leave a drop in the glass!) a packet of nuts and sat there counting the times one guy went to the bar. In the end I had to stop – not my issue and not his if he is happy. I was never happy and as you say I tried for a year the… press reset, dry out, make a pledge, drink normally… shit how come that is my 10th, 15th 20th of the day. Start again… can’t be done.

    Guinness – that was my chosen default poison. I met an American guy about 20years in recovery touring Europe. He was regretful that he’d never drunk Guinness at all and couldn’t in Dublin on his tour. He drank bourbon – which I didn’t ever as far as I recall… so we agreed it didn’t matter – I’d drunk all the Guinness he’d ever need for him and he the Bourbon for me

    To say again… don’t drink, go to meetings… the rest will follow and it will get better/easier… it will just have faith


    1. I do have faith, in great part from assurances like yours that it will get easier. I absolutely believe it to be true. And what is it with us drunks not being able to leave an unfinished soda, even? Ha.


  4. Hi, love your blog! I’ve been sober nearly a year in AA – anniversary in less than 2 weeks, yay :). And I have three kids, including ten year and twelve year old daughter – lots of loud slumber parties. It is so much easier doing it sober. I really relate to reaching the point of “struggling on my own is not much better than using booze to take the edge off” – in fact, I find it liberating not to worry about when, how and how much I need to drink. I am just not going to drink and the “edge” of that is somehow easier than the “edge” of wanting/needing more, never enough, etc. Have you read River of Denial in the BB? I groove on the recovery memoirs you’ve mentioned also….just finished If I Wake.

    Thanks for your blog. I am not blogging, just lurking, but I really appreciate it!


  5. This is so incredibly well put: “I had quite a few moments at the bowling alley where I thought about beer and daydreamed how it might feel to be curled up in its welcoming arms, but I know that’s like saying I miss an abusive ex because he made the best cheesecake.” I must quote it in my blog. Oh and gotta love your coaster photo 🙂

    But, it saddens me that you keep emotions hidden and carry it alone… though glad that you get to vent your thoughts here in your blog. Because, out they must!

    Take care of yourself *hugs*


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