One of my hobbies is playing rugby. Every year I worry that maybe I'm getting a little too old (contact sports take their toll, eh?) but once I get out there and start playing, those worries disappear, because it's just so damn fun.
I played my first game of the season today, and a good time was had by all. I'm bruised and battered, but in high spirits, and am looking forward to a quiet evening at home, watching TV and maybe a DVD or two. But something's missing.
In rugby, there's a tradition called "the Third Half", it's the time after the game when all the players meet up in a bar or club house, buy drinks for the other side, and generally make asses of themselves by singing songs and playing drinking games. God I love the third half. On my old team that I played for just a couple years back, I was the guy to lead the club in song, and had quite a reputation as a stalwart drinker who wouldn't let the club down in a boat race or chugging obstacle course. I play for a different team now, and am a bit more quiet around them so haven't had a chance to gain that sort of reputation, but I've been known to throw a few beers back now and again.
A few months ago, back when I wasn't sure if this sobriety thing was a long-term plan or just a phase, I thought that maybe after a long, sober winter, I might enjoy a drink or two after a game. In fact, that could be my drinking night! I would only ever drink after a game. And maybe after a practice. Or if rugby was on TV and some guys wanted to go to a bar, or even if I was injured a bit and had nothing else to do at home.....
You can see why this plan wouldn't have worked out.
Since I decided/realized that I am an alcoholic (okay, why do I always want to qualify that word? I almost wrote "probably an alcoholic" or "pretty much an alcoholic". Do I think that leaving a bit of verbal wiggle-room will get me off the hook here?), I had to scrap that back-up plan. I understand that even one drink is the first step back to where I was, and I really have no confidence that I could keep myself away from booze for the long term if I give myself the opportunity to cheat. I'd kind of forgotten about the plan.
I've been out with my friends when they're drinking, I've been to bars. I mostly feel comfortable being with other people in social situation s where they are drinking and I am not, but today I took a ride home right after the game and avoided the after-game drink up entirely.
It's one of those cases where I know that I wouldn't cave in or anything, but that I would just feel too sad to have to tell people that I'm just drinking pop, to sit out of any boat races and chugging contests. There are some days where you have to answer the question: "Am I going to drink today?" But today I needed to avoid the question entirely.
We have another game next week, and when I'm there, I WILL go out with the boys afterward, and I'll have a good time. But today, for my first game of the year as a sober man, I wanted to give myself some space.