The Diet Coke Nightcap

I am writing this from a hotel room in North Carolina where I am attending a meeting of my professional organization.  The last time I was at this meeting, some of my colleagues had to half drag-half carry me back to my hotel room.  Not one of my better moments.  That meeting, back in March, was the site of my first relapse.  It began in an airport bar, continued with being invited by the police to leave a minor league baseball game I was attending with a friend from college, and ended with the pitiful scene of my colleagues helping me back to my room while I showed them the shiny new 24 hour AA chip that I had recently earned.

So far this trip is working out differently.  After a full day of working-with lots of joking about how much everyone needed a drink-my colleagues retreated to the bar about 9:45.  They invited me to join them, and I did for a bit.  When I stood at the bar waiting to order my drink, the thought flashed through my mind: I could have just one.  Instead, I ordered my Diet Coke.  I sat with my colleagues feeling completely self conscious.  There is something in the alcoholic mind that thinks that everyone is as obsessed about the fact that I’m drinking Diet Coke while they’re drinking martinis, wine, and vodka tonics as I am.  And one person did make a comment about my drinking.  He asked if I was traveling with my own bottle of whiskey, something I had commonly done in the past.  Now, as I sit in my room, I am fairly certain that none of my friends are sitting in their rooms thinking about what I spent the evening drinking the way I am thinking about what they were drinking.

I spoke to my wife earlier this evening, and she noticed that I didn’t sound like myself.  “Are you depressed?” she asked.  I thought for a while before responding.  “No, just resigned.”  Resigned to the fact that my life is now a life of drinking Diet Cokes while my friends drink whatever they want. Resigned always to be the designated driver.  There are worse fates.  I once worked in a nursing home where most residents had to have their beverages thickened to keep them from choking.  Thickened Diet Coke would certainly suck worse. 

Getting through tonight was a big thing for me.  In early sobriety, we are advised to avoid people, places, and things that are likely to be relapse triggers.  So I spent part of the evening at a conference, in a bar, with people I used to drink with.  I got all three of them.  We are also advised to avoid becoming too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  That’s why I returned to my room, ordered some gumbo from room service, and called my sponsor.

Today is 10 days since my last drink.  I still don’t like not drinking.  I still feel sorry for myself and resentful of others who can drink safely.  I don’t have to like being an alcoholic.  I do have to accept it if I want to get better.  So tonight I’ll practice accepting a lifetime of Diet Coke nightcaps.

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One Response to “The Diet Coke Nightcap”

  1. yes…thickened diet coke would suck worse…great image — a powerful message.

    I hope that writing your blog has benefit to you — because it’s an unvarnished look into a world that I’m only a guest in.

    Travel safely…

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