172 days. That’s how long it’s been since I imbibed alcohol. This is the longest I have gone without alcohol in my life.
During the past few weeks and months, the dreams depicting drinking or drunken episodes have subsided a bit. I still avoid the grocery aisle with liquor and beer. I do not put myself in a position or location where temptation can lead me down a dangerous course.
But just when I think I’m getting this new lifestyle under control, I come face-to-face with the seductive mistress who has curated many damnable nights. Granted I have not shared with many friends or family that I quit drinking, so there is no way my sweet neighbor could have known before she left the Christmas bottle of wine. A beautiful card with my name scrolled across is taped to the bottle. Literally a bottle of temptation with my name on it sits patiently waiting on my welcome home mat. To me it’s a visual reminder that I cannot outrun or ignore the fact, I confess – I am an alcoholic.
I will not be able to go back to my prior ways. In fact, I do not want to. I am happier now, not a fake Pollyanna cheer, but a “life is going to be okay” embrace. So what to do with this bottle? I scoop it up and place it on my foyer table. Not willing to make room for it in my home or life. It can wait there as I figure out what to do with it.
I know many folks would recommend immediately pouring it down the drain, and honestly that’s what I was leaning toward initially. But nowadays, I seek to think through my choices and consider the options instead of always being reactionary. My intoxicated past was full of reactive results. I’m not tempted at the moment to drink it (had I been it most certainly would have been tossed), so I do what most insane folks do when faced with a personal dilemma – I took it to social media.
The results included 14 recommendations for re-gifting, 6 for returning, 3 suggestions of cooking with it, 3 advised pouring it out, and 1 proposal to keep as a sign of triumph.
I was overwhelmed with the love and support of my social circle, near and far. Some courageous souls even shared they too were in recovery. (I would have never guessed!) They seemed to have their lives together; thus they gave me a renewed sense of hope and determination.
But above all I used this as a chance to share this lifestyle change with friends and family, particularly since I will be returning home next month for the first time in three years.
So what did I end up doing?
This morning I snagged a Starbucks giftcard, signed a holiday card, and knocked on my neighbor’s door with the bottle nestled in my arm. I thanked her so much for the thoughtful gift but explained I simply could not accept it because I was in recovery. She immediately responded, “Re-gift it! I’m so sorry; I didn’t know.” I hugged her and said there was no way she could have and asked if she could help me find someone who would enjoy it. We chatted a bit longer and I turned home, happier and more content that I had been honest with her and with myself.
I kept the card with my name on it – that’s me! The bottle no longer is.
What would you do if presented with a temptation you’re working to overcome?