Tomorrow, I go on a long vacation to exotic locations.
I’ve been wishy-washy on whether I would succumb to drinking on this month-long venture, sending out mixed signals to my poor, confused husband. Actually, he is probably not that confused — he’s seen this show before.
What I’m doing is setting the stage for drinking.
I imagine the place it might be, even though I have never been anywhere we are going: I will be sitting in a quaint cafe, overlooking some famous sea, and the waiter will appear, holding a frosty drink. “It is a tradition in Swaziland,*” he will say, “That visitors are offered our national drink.”
(Disclosure: I am not going to Swaziland, if it even exists.)
“To refuse is to gravely offend the giver,” he continues,”and brings curses and bad weather on your vacation. No one has ever refused such a drink.”
Charmed but threatened, I would gracefully accept the drink, and take a sip, as per the local custom. Everyone in the cafe would cheer, and raise their own glasses to my health and ability to assimilate with the natives. Fun would be had by all.
I’ve been imaging this, but per my new sober training, I am also forced to analyze the thought process that led to such a bizarre scenario. In the interest of time, here is a summary of what I’ve come up with:
- I know I am setting the scene to permit myself to drink. I can choose to recognize this and stop, or recognize this and continue. IT IS MY CHOICE.
- I can continue to make seemingly throw-away comments, like “I wonder if they even drink Cosmos in Swaziland,” or I can stop. I am not fooling anyone. Either way, THE CHOICE IS MINE.
- I actually no longer feel the urge to drink. Almost never. I rarely have thoughts about it. Instead, I fantasize about hot fudge sundaes and creme brûlée. I could (and am) changing this by considering, covertly, that the vacation of a lifetime is a passable “excuse” to drink. I could continue to allow these thoughts, or I could stop. THE CHOICE IS MINE.
- Whatever choice I make, I am not making it, as in the past, because the desire to drink is so overwhelming that I am ill-equipped to handle it. I am not in the midst of a personal drama. No one I know is dying. I am healthy and happy. I could make it through this trip by walking myself silly and getting in great shape. I could take beautiful photos and post them, annoyingly, on Facebook, practically pointing out to everyone,”I’m here and you’re not!”
Or I could get back on the treadmill, because they know me there. I know that version of myself. I could hang out with her a while. Maybe she’s lonely.
Or I could stop these idiotic, destructive thoughts (the old, drunk me is lonely?) and embrace strength instead of weakness. Hope instead of hopelessness. Life instead of half-life. Change instead of choosing to stay stuck … again.
But I can’t stop knowing it’s up to me.