Drunk Dreams

Sorry for the hiatus in writing.  Occasionally just get too busy actually living life to write about it.

One of the interesting phenomena of recovery is the “drunk dream.”  These are intensely realistic dreams about drinking.  They are so realistic that often, upon waking, you’re not sure whether you actually have been drinking or not.  Waking up in a sweat, panicked, thinking, “Oh shit, I drank last night” is an upsetting experience.  My sponsor tells me that these dreams are pretty much limited to alcoholics, so it’s a good confirmation that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

I’ve had three experiences recently that were variations on the drunk dream.  The first one was about 7 weeks ago.  I woke up on a Sunday morning, with the horrible feeling that I had been drinking.  Once my head cleared a little, I thought, “Oh, it was just a dream.”  As I lay in bed a little longer and fragments of memories from the night before began coming back, I was less sure that it had been a dream. It wasn’t until I looked in my closet and found the dregs of a liter bottle of cheap vodka that I knew for sure that I hadn’t been dreaming.  The horrible, sick feeling in my stomach was only alleviated by finishing the bottle.  I drank for 3 more days.  (aside-I don’t even like vodka).

The second was this past Thursday night.  I dreamed that my wife and I had separated, and I had moved back to a town where we had lived early in our marriage that had great bars.  In the dream, I thought, “Oh boy!  It’s Friday night, and there’s nobody to tell me not to drink!  I’m going to the bar!”  Then I thought, “Wait, I can’t drink.”  Instead, I picked up the phone and called my sponsor.  Still very realistic and intense, and I woke up altogether unsure whether it had happened or not.  My therapist and my sponsor both thought it was a good sign that I had a sober drunk dream.

The third was last night.  I was at a gathering of a strange assortment of people from my past-college friends, family, in-laws.  I decided to have a beer, which inevitably led to numerous others.  A feature of my drunk dreams is that I’m usually not only drinking but trying to hide my drinking from the other characters in the dream, and this one was no exception.  After my several beers, I found myself wandering through a barrio trying to find whiskey.  I woke up in terror, and again it took me a few minutes to figure out that it had been a dream.  Whew, no bottle in the closet.  What was fascinating was that I actually woke up feeling hungover-headache, sweaty, the whole deal.  I stopped having real hangovers a long time ago, but fake ones feel just as bad.

What do drunk dreams mean?  Some alcoholics call them “freebies,” drunks with no consequences.  Others see them as remaining mental reservations about sobriety.  I’m not sure, but I do know that I never enjoy being drunk in my drunk dreams, so if nothing else it’s a reminder that there’s nothing good left in drinking for me anymore.  After my sober drunk dream, I thought that maybe my unconscious finally wanted me to be sober.  After last night’s dream, I’m not so sure.  So is my unconscious sober or not?  Who knows.  All I know for sure is that I haven’t had a drink in 46 days and that I don’t anticipate having one tonight.  Tomorrow’s looking pretty good too.

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