I got an email the other day about an event this Friday for new faculty. It sounds like something I’d benefit from, save one little detail:
“We hope to address any problems and welcome your suggestions about how we can make things easier for new faculty. We’ll have some wine.”
Therein lies the rub, my friends. Mind you, I would have been all about this not too long ago. Wine in the middle of the day…and on a Friday? Sign me the hell up. Add in a potentially awkward social situation, and I’d be set for Friday and for Friday evening, because Lord knows the drinking wouldn’t have stopped at the meeting. Oh, nooo, that would just be the appetizer. The only irritating thing about drinking with colleagues would have been my constant worry that I would drink too much. At the same time, I would have looked at the diminishing wine in my glass and longed to refill it…but how much time to wait between refills?
Even though I didn’t discriminate when it came to drinking days and times, Friday was always a favorite. The moment I read that email, my brain automatically launched into feverish planning mode: Ah, a legitimate reason to drink, and that could give me a good base for the rest of the afternoon, and then I could stop at the store on the way home and get a decoy bottle, pick up the kids, and then kill the first bottle while making supper, and then start on the other bottle like it was no big deal, and then we could watch a movie and then…
…and then what? And then the struggle to see without closing one eye. The hesitation to use certain words because I know I’m going to slur. The sneaking into the kitchen to chug two glasses of wine and then pour another to “casually sip” in the living room. Then stumbling to bed to pass out, only to wake up with a mothertrucker of a hangover. Probably throw up before trying to eat breakfast. Grimace while drinking coffee and hope to keep that down. On the way to work, start planning how soon I can get another drink in my system.
Whew, talk about playing the tape. At a recent AA meeting, a man said playing the tape wasn’t an effective strategy for him, but it sure is for me. Everything I described about would happen except much worse; I would have to face my wife and children and tell them I relapsed. I have a sinking feeling that if I did relapse, it wouldn’t be one of those, “Whoops, I had a drink. That was stupid. Back to sobriety, nothing to see here. Move along, folks.” No, I’d dive back in with reckless abandon and drink myself unconscious, or worse. The pain I would cause my family and my support group would be too much to handle, and my solution to that dilemma would be–take a wild guess–to drink.
I’m not sure if I’m going to the meeting on Friday or not. Many teachers don’t hang around Friday, and my absence wouldn’t be noted (unlike with my previous employer). I’ll see how I feel. Today, I feel strong, but that will probably change during the day, to say nothing of the days ahead. If I feel that I can be among people drinking, I’ll go. If not, I’ll teach and go back home, or treat myself to something nice.
As you were, sober people.