There is a box of wine sitting in my fridge at home.
It's mostly empty, and was left there by a friend about a week and a half ago when my boyfriend had people over. In the old days, there is no physical possibility for a box of wine to remain inside my fridge for a week and a half. True, in the old days you could check and see a box of wine in there every single day for a week and a half, but in those days it is extremely unlikely that it would be the same box of wine. What you would have seen was three or four different boxes of wine as they replaced the original.
This box of wine is the same one. The exact same one. No replacements. It's just sitting in there, maybe a quarter full, waiting for someone who does drink (not me) to come along and imbibe.
The last few days, that box has been bugging the HELL out of me.
I'll be strong, and to tell the truth, whether I relapse or not has very, very little to do with the contents of my fridge. I am a 2 minute walk from a wine store, a 5 minute walk from a beer store, and a 10 minute walk from an "anything with alcohol content" store, plus about a billion bars and pubs. Also, my credit card is completely paid off and I have money in both my chequing AND savings accounts. I am probably in the best possible condition for me to arrange a giant bender as I will ever be. Shame, really. I guess this is the paradox: when I'm drinking, I can't afford to drink, and when I stop drinking I can afford anything I want, including drinking!
But back to the box....a few days ago I lifted it out of the fridge, not to drink it, but because I was curious. I wanted to know how full it was. It was depressingly light...if I were drinking, it would not have been enough, not by a long-shot. The boxes hold, I think, 3 or 4 bottles' worth of wine, and I'm pretty sure I can pack away three quarters of a box in one night, if I'm determined. The box in the fridge probably has about two or three glasses worth.
A day after I checked the contents, I saw a mostly-empty glass of wine on my boyfriend's computer desk from the night before. I actually had to stifle an impulse to just gulp it down - one harmless little swallow. I can even taste the sour tang of day-old wine right now, and feel the warmth in my face and belly. Mm-mm.
I hate to think it, but I'm worried that, for whatever reason, I might be in relapse territory. It's time for me to think very, very hard about what that would mean. A huge part of alcholism is the denial, and I think that I'm at least partly in denial about how difficult not drinking really is for me. It's incredibly seductive to think that I could have a little binge (Ha! "little binge!") and then just hop back on the wagon. One of the blogs I read (Immortal Alcoholic) talks about an end-stage alcoholic who has refused detox, because he wants to be healthy, but not stop drinking. I completely understand this. Man, I feel this. If I could be simultaneously sober AND drunk? All the time? Man. How awesome would that be??
But that's fantasy. Reality is that if I take one drink, that is the first step down the road to losing each and every single one of my dreams and goals, hurting people that I love and who love me, and giving up on a real and well-lived life. I'm not ready for that, yet.
The thing is, I'm just starting to understand what my life as a sober person could actually be. I've spent so much of my life as an adult being a drinker that I'm realising now that I actually have no idea what I'm capable of. Certain ideas I have about myself - my laziness, my lack of ambition, my flakiness - might just be artifacts of my alcoholism and not even close to accurate about myself. What if I'm actually a hard-working, ambitious, reliable person? What would that mean?
Fact is, I don't have a reliable framework yet for thinking about myself as sober. I don't really know who I am. I've had plenty of time to figure out who and what the drinking Marc is, that's comfortable (-ish) and familiar. But thinking about myself outside of that wine box is strange and more than a little frightening. I don't know who he is, yet, but I have a feeling that he's better than the wine box me. So its worth it getting to know him.