Yesterday was my birthday. And it’s one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had because it was real. Some of my dear friends planned a night out a few weeks back for all of us to go to the beach, watch the sunset (my thing) and go to dinner. This was before I announced to the world that I was done drinking. It’s been an interesting thing. Moments where I wonder what in the absolute hell was I thinking. Moments of fear. Moments of asking myself if I can really pull this off. Moments where I wonder if I can take it back. So here my friends have planned this wonderful night out at the beach and then I make the big statement. While I may be making some changes in my own life, I’m not asking anyone else to change with me so I decided I’d offer to be the designated driver. My friends wondered if I was really okay with that. I was. After all, I’m not going back into hiding and I have to be able to navigate the real world with or without a drink in my hand. So I treated this like a test. One where I would pay very close attention to how I felt through the evening and take notes on whatever might arise from within.
I started getting ready yesterday afternoon, paying attention to my thoughts and my heart. Normally, I’d have a glass of wine here at home while getting ready just to take the edge off and get in party mode. I didn’t, of course, but the thoughts that went through my head while I was getting ready were very telling. While I was trying to find something to wear, which is quite a feat these days since I can’t get into most of my clothes right now (I’m working on it slowly but thank menopause -a post for another day), I started thinking that once I had a drink, I’d be able to find something to put on. I’d catch myself and say, “No, Diane. You can do this without a glass of wine.” I actually have never kept alcohol here in my house so it wasn’t really a choice anyways. Then once I was finally dressed and looked in the mirror I was so unsatisfied with my outfit and thought again, “Once I have a couple of drinks, I won’t care anymore.” Again, “No, Diane. You can do this.” And this old, familiar train of thought continued on about ten more times before I was even out the door. “Wow,” I thought. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. This was scary new territory for me.
So with knots in my stomach and gratitude in my heart I walked out the door and went to my friend’s house. My friends started showing up and I greeted them at the door with my bottle of water. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable, like I was missing a limb or had lost my shield of protection, but I slowly eased in and drove everyone over to the beach. We went to a rooftop bar where I ordered a yummy mocktail. We watched the sunset which brought me great peace. We went to dinner and I laughed more than I have laughed in a long time. Belly aching laughter that I felt all the way to my core. It felt wonderful. My senses were all completely intact and I was enjoying my friends and everything they had to say. I was really listening and seeing them. It felt magical and I found myself having a better time than I ever thought I could.
On the way home we listened to Natalie Merchant, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks, “Jessie’s Girl”(more than once) and some other old college tunes. And we belted them out at the top of our lungs. It felt so freeing to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it WHOLLY. The knots in my stomach had long since dissipated and my heart was bursting with love, joy and so much appreciation for these dear friends who have supported me through it all. And this morning I woke up feeling great instead of awful knowing I can pull this off.