I’m feeling great with my decision to become sober. I am feeling so strong in the knowledge I don’t want a drink. Isn’t that wonderful? The first time I tried being sober I decided it was for 90 days and, in retrospect, it really was just a countdown to when I could drink again. I managed around 75 days or so and then a 6-week house renovation took its toll and I caved. Not massively though, I actually started out moderating really well! Yay, I thought, one glass and I’ve got a buzz! December was a moderate success, excuse the pun. But by the end of February the buzz was back to a one bottle requirement. And anything over that one bottle and I was a stumbling, slurring mess. Yuck.
Now, although I’m strong in my decision to get and stay sober, doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. Cos I do sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have an occasional glass of red wine. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be a “normie” and be satisfied with one glass? With no internal dialogue having to say over and over “Just this one. Don’t have a second. You know what will happen if you have a second.”
It’s Autumnal here in the South Island of New Zealand and my favourite cold-weather activity was snuggling up in front of the fire with a glass of Merlot (which would usually turn into consuming the bottle). But I have the self-awareness now and the tools to know that that romanticised image, is just that. A romanticised image. I know I can re-train my brain’s hard wiring to a different beverage and obtain the same snuggly desire.
So now I feel like you’ve got an understanding of where I am at, I’m going to share something that has my blood simmering… But first, some background about a relationship with a sister-in-law who is Irish and lives up to their drinking reputation. She is my past drinking partner and knows I’ve given up drinking, for “health reasons”. I told her I wasn’t going out last Saturday night (with our circle of friends) because I’m not interested in sitting in a pub, watching them get drunk while I nurse my fizzy. She laughed and said “I don’t have any friend’s that don’t drink!” I laughed too, as we are trying to repair and rebuild our damaged relationship from an incident that happened during my first attempt at getting sober in October last year…
…Whenever we were out socially, she would make a comment about how BORING I am without drinking. If it was said once or twice I could let it go. But it was said repeatedly, several times. And because it was never the time or the place to raise it with her, I would rather not make a scene, in front of others, I would say nothing.
Until a time in October at my father’s 70th birthday lunch. She was loud and obnoxious, throwing insults around at various family members. Telling my mum that for her 70th she needed a bullet. She saw I wasn’t finding it funny (neither was my other brother and his wife) and out came her usual line of how boring I am when I don’t drink. Again, not the time nor the place to address this, but I was ready to erupt. It was my Dad’s special occasion and she was taking it over and ruining it for me.
As we got into the car to leave, she came up to the car window and started having a go at me (in front of my children) saying “that wasn’t nice” about something I had quietly said to my husband about her taking over. I couldn’t believe she had the audacity to make it the time and the place! On my Dad’s birthday! And in front of my kids. We were all supposed to go back to her place after lunch for coffee. I couldn’t be around her anymore that day so we didn’t go. She sent me texts asking where I was, saying “this is shit!” and “everyone is wondering where you are”.
After a couple of strained weeks, we talked on the phone. She asked me, told me, to be completely honest with her, so I was. I told her I was tired of being put down by her, being told what to wear, to apply fake tan because I’m so pale, being told I’m boring when I don’t drink – it all came out. I used all the ‘right’ language such as “I feel”, not “you made me feel” because I needed to own it. Her reaction was dramatic, there were tears and she defended everything I raised as only trying to help me look better. Then she manipulated it all so I was just being overly sensitive. In the end she said that she was devastated that I thought she was trying to hurt me. I didn’t think she was trying to. She just never thinks about how something might sound before she opens her mouth. Finally, she said “I don’t know how we can come back from this” and it was my a-ha moment. I knew then she hadn’t really heard what I had said. It was all a waste of time. And the relationship was over, to boot. One of her nicknames is “Ice Queen”. She had discarded me.
So coming back to Saturday night where all my friends were going out into town (which usually turns into a “session”) I was sad I was missing out on fun with them. I knew I didn’t want to drink but I also didn’t fancy watching them get drunk and I didn’t want to put myself into a potential triggery situation so early on in sobriety. 5:30pm I received a text message from my sister-in-law. It was a photo of her glass of red wine with the caption, “Does this make you thirsty?” That’s what got my blood simmering as I mentioned earlier. What. The. Fuck.
I didn’t want to reply until I had calmed down and it wouldn’t have been a good idea to, if she was drinking so I waited until the next day. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me “Hi! I hope you’re well and not suffering a hangover today. We agreed last year that I would be honest with you when something bothered me, so here it is. Please don’t send me pictures of wine referring to the fact I’m not drinking. I felt horrible. Thanks.”
Her “Oh god, that was not my intention at all. Sorry!” Then a second message a few minutes later “It was not meant like that at all.”
Me “I knew you wouldn’t have intended to. I’m just aware that I shouldn’t let stuff build up, that’s all. Giving up wine is not easy!”
Her “I keep forgetting you’re not drinking. It makes no odds to me that you aren’t drinking. It’s up to you and your health. If I were to be honest it upsets me that you think I want to upset you.”
Me “Keep forgetting? The caption said, does this make you thirsty? By saying that you def remembered I wasn’t drinking lol! And I don’t think you wanted to upset me. Hence me saying above, I knew you wouldn’t have intended to. It wasn’t a big deal, I was just being honest with you like you asked me to. That’s all. Nothing more.”
Her “There was no harm to it. Lesson learned. I apologise.”
But now she’s not talking to me. Sigh.
So, dear, wonderful blog, I feel a little bit sick and a whole lot sad but I’m done. I’m over being manipulated, criticised, belittled…I just feel…played. She loves playing games, she can never do wrong, and never takes responsibility for her actions. She has torn apart my family (my two brothers aren’t speaking to each other as a result), and I can’t – won’t – accept being treated this way any more.
The thing is, how do I get closure? I would love to let her know how I feel, but don’t want to risk any further drama. I’m hoping by writing about it, it will help. If anyone has any suggestions or experiences with relationships gone sour, please share them.