“Remember, we drank champagne and watched the snow falling on the garden?”

That simple sentence sent a shiver down my spine this evening . A sudden jolt and I am reminded of that feeling as I gulped down my first glass of champagne of the night. Oh, I was a decadent drunk; every good night started with champagne and a Friday wasn’t a Friday without it, but I haven’t thought about it for so long, until tonight.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not clambering over people to get to the off license (liquor store to my US friends), but I hadn’t been planning on battling romanticised thoughts of drinking tonight, but perhaps I should have known better. Tonight I’m away from home. Tonight I’m staying with my folks.

My parents enjoy a drink and I used to enjoy having a drink with them. In fact, this would be a time to let go and forget my ‘sometimes’ rules. A visit to the folks meant no holds barred when it came to wine, or beer, or whiskey or….. champagne. To paraphrase some of our greatest politicians ‘let me be clear’, my parents are not alcoholics; they would happily help me polish of a few bottles of wine, but equally would be just as happy with one glass with dinner. No, not alcoholics, but they enjoy the craic, both having Celtic blood, and I was always more than happy to join in.

There in lies the rub. Social times with my folks have often centred around booze. Now what? It’s all a bit awkward really. They don’t know whether it’s okay to drink around me, I’m feeling ever so slightly triggered just being with them, and we all end up tripping over ourselves trying not to feel uncomfortable with the whole situation.

As I ponder this new way of life and hanker after the carefree days when we all knew our place (we’ll drink, I will drink too much and we will all laugh at my silliness, Dad will drink too much and tell the same stories he’s been telling for the last 45 years, followed by sudden deep sleep, and Mum will quietly retreat to bed with a glass of milk), it occurs to me that I should be more grateful for this wonderful family I have been blessed with. For all this awkwardness of late, it is only as we all try to adjust to this new way of being. Right now, six months sober, I don’t really know who I am, so how can I expect anyone else to?

Time will present us with the answers; as sober me emerges from the clutter of my drinking days, those around me will know me better. Better than they ever did before, because this time it will be the real me, not a projection of who I think they want me to be, just me; flawed, excellent, baffling, boring, contradictory, kind, grumpy and many other adjectives besides.

That prospect frightens me, it’s the type of exposure that drinking helped me to avoid, but it’s real, it’s life and I want to live it. So what if there are a few months of us all figuring out what’s going on, it’s preparing the groundwork for a life being lived on life’s terms, as it always should have been.

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