I was not prepared for this visit. I should have been. Every time I went over my in-laws for food there was wine. Not, ‘let’s get off our face’ drinking. Just a nice, civilised glass of wine with food (and then another glass after food, you know, just to finish off the bottle with my mother in-law).
We’d been in lockdown for three months when they asked us over. I hadn’t been around alcohol since then, aside from my husband having the odd whiskey (the smell of which has always made me wretch), so that wasn’t an issue. It didn’t cross my mind. I hadn’t told my in-laws I’d stopped drinking. Not an intentional decision, because of lockdown we just hadn’t been in the situation where it would be mentioned. So as soon as we walked into their dining room and I saw the wine glasses on the table my stomach flipped and I felt sick.
What was I going to say? I hadn’t prepared my answer and I’d promised myself I would perfect my answer before going into any drinking situations. I was going to write down a number of answers and practice them in the mirror so I could pull out the most appropriate for the situation. Each answer was going to have the perfect balance of humour, self-confidence and ‘I don’t give a shit what you think’ so that everyone in the whole wide world would respond to my carefully crafted answers with nothing but respect and admiration.
While I sat at the table, waiting for the dreaded question my mind was doing cartwheels trying to find an appropriate response for my mother-in-law. I hadn’t created a family suitable response yet. My husband was offered a lager which he accepted, with an awkward side look to me. We talk a lot about lockdown ending and how I will cope in situations where people are drinking. He knows how important it is to me to have answers ready for each situation. He knows I am not prepared for this.
“Right, I’ve got Prosecco, White or Rose, which do you want?” White Wine, my nemesis. I’ve not been in the same room as that seductress for 106 days and the mere mention of her makes me want to rip her bottle top off and down her in one.
“Oh…umm…..I’ve stopped drinking….Sorry”. Sorry! Sorry??????
The thoughts I’d love to be typing right now are, I’m not sorry for giving up alcohol. I simply decided I didn’t want to consume something that was killing me anymore and my life is much better for it. But that isn’t what I’m really thinking. What I’m really thinking is, I’m sorry I can’t be the daughter in-law that you occasionally get drunk with anymore. Because what you don’t see is when we leave your house after 2 glasses of wine, all I can think about is whether I can persuade Chris to stop of at Spar on the way home so I can continue drinking. I’m sorry I can’t be like ‘normal’ drinkers. I’m sorry I can’t control myself. I’ve ruined it. And now, whenever I come round for dinner you will feel a little uncomfortable being the only person drinking a glass of wine. I’m sorry.
“Oh…….ok!” I could see the disappointment in her face. For a second I wanted to say ‘Just kidding, as if I’m not drinking anymore, you’ve met me yeah?’ But I couldn’t, I wasn’t joking, this is me now.
The rest of the meal was lovely. They didn’t ask any questions about my decision not to drink, which I was relieved about. This whole experience has been a massive wake up call for me. Being sober for a while now I, unknowingly, have become complacent. Lock down is not normal life, I have been sheltered from alcohols pull for over four months, so much so that I thought the pull had gone. It hasn’t. It’s still here alive and kicking inside me, just waiting for that moment to attack my senses and disorientate me into having a drink.
I must be more prepared.