I was lying outside in my hammock last night, enjoying the warm breeze, when a soft wave of sadness rolled over me. The perfection of the evening suddenly seemed diminished by the fact that I couldn’t enjoy a drink. No cool bottle tucked into my hand as the sky slowly faded from orange to darkest blue. No sweet sips, no heady buzz.
This is a feeling that fills me from time to time, a kind of grief. On the surface, it has to do with rules. There is no beer in my hand because I have imposed a “no drinking at home” rule on myself.
In fact, my rules are flexible. If a drink in my hammock would fill me with as much pleasure as I’d imagined, then I could incorporate an occasional sunset beer into my plans. It might take a little effort, since I’ve learned that drinking at home creates challenges for me, and I’d need to work to integrate it into my plan in a truly healthy way. But if this were truly the source of that small swell of grief, I would probably find the work worthwhile.
It’s not, because I’m not really missing a sunset beer in my hand. I’m missing the way I used to drink. I miss the mindlessness. I miss feeling like alcohol will help me cope with feeling bad. I miss the lack of responsibility. I miss knowing that one drink can be followed by another, and another, without any limits. Even if a cold beer had arrived in my hammock at that very moment of my desire, it would not have touched the real source of my sorrow.
Mourning a drinking habit is normal. Because moderators can still drink, I suppose it may come as a surprise that we still mourn. I do, anyway. I don’t get to drink the way I did anymore. That’s the solid truth at the heart of it all. I can have a sunset beer any time I want, but right then, it wouldn’t have given me what I was missing. I was missing something that used to be a big part of my life, and isn’t anymore.
So I just let my sadness wash over me, and let it fade, and smiled a little in the darkness. A touch of melancholy sometimes visits when I am tired, when a long day is winding down, when I am breathing in and out. That’s okay. It always passes, and I’m happy just to be here.