Last night I had a drunk dream, the first in probably six months. In it, my husband and I had bought some sort of rundown Shoney’s or gas station or maybe a dilapidated version of the Howard Johnsons with the orange sherbet in a recent episode of Madmen. Whatever the setting was supposed to be, my husband pulled out an old bottle of whiskey from underneath the counter and offered it to me and I drank it. I never liked whiskey, yet in the dream I was disappointed when I realized the bottle was only a quarter full and that I would not be getting any more. Then I thought “well a little bit is better than none at all” which is where my dream self and awake self part ways, for sure.
Why did I have a drunk dream after so many months without, and why did I actually drink in this one? When I had them in the early days of sobriety, I would order a wine at some chaotic reception but then invariably remember “oh yeah, I don’t drink anymore” and put it back untouched. In this dream, I drank the whiskey and only afterwards realized I had just ruined a nice stretch of sobriety.
The only trigger I can think of is that I’m going with my family tonight to eat at a brewpub in town. I’ve been to this place a few times since I quit drinking, but not in months. Even in my drinking days, I liked this place better for its food than its beer because they do more experimental brews, such as beer aged in whiskey barrels. Which is probably where the whiskey dream came from. My subconscious is embarrassingly transparent.
Of course it’s okay for me to have dinner at a brewpub with my family. It wouldn’t feel right if I went by myself or if I went all the time, but I have to work the new non-drinking me back into the old routines. It’s not all about me. This flexibility feels important for growth.
Last night I wondered out loud when I was going to get to exercise today because of our dinner plans and my husband said “why don’t you work out in the morning?” First I thought of all the reasons why that idea sucked because I wasn’t the one to come up with it, but then I realized it made a lot of sense. So this morning I got up early and wrote for a half hour at the kitchen table and then ran for a half hour in the mist and fog, and now I feel fantastic.
Getting exercise has been important to me for roughly the last six years, save for the time I was pregnant with my youngest and incidentally got as big as a house. But I have never done it the same way for any length of time. Sometimes I do it at night, sometimes in the morning, sometimes right after work. I’ve done the elliptical, the treadmill, I’ve walked, I’ve run…the point is I have to be flexible or I won’t find the time to exercise. I have to change up how I exercise or I’ll get burnt out and I won’t want to do it anymore.
Sobriety feels like that too. I don’t mean that I have to eat at brewpubs to stay sober. I just mean I have to rediscover things that are fun and I can’t live my life based on fear. If I keep the end goal the same but stay flexible in how I get there, maybe sobriety will continue to be as rewarding as it is today.