…sometimes I even add it to the food. WC Fields
I was doing dishes yesterday after baking banana bread and was looking out the window, enjoying the view of the woods, nature and my 2 dogs enjoying the warming Spring-like weather. Then, I noticed a quote in my window I had received as a gift. A small wooden sign had the wine/cooking quote from WC Fields. Anyone who knows me and my love for wine and cooking knows this rang true for me. I love wine, particularly good red wine. I lived with a French family in Luxemburg as an exchange student and grew to appreciate fine wine through that experience. When I lived in the UK, the wine store was 2 blocks down and with a wider variety of wines than most US stores at the time (late 90’s), I expanded my palette. I turned 30 when I lived there in Chester and a friend gave me a bottle of French bordeaux. He told me to keep it for a special occasion – perhaps my 40th. I’ve transported that wine now from the UK to North Carolina to Puerto Rico to Indiana, guarding it for a special occasion. I didn’t bring it out for my 40th, but had been saving it for the right small gathering of friends who could enjoy it with me.
Then 12/21 came…and I entered recovery! And although I primarily identify myself as an addict, I recognized early on that alcohol was a trigger. More than once, my resolve to lay off the meth was melted with a vodka martini or cosmopolitan. The wisdom from other addicts proved true recently when I almost stumbled with a lingering bottle of aged rum. It reconfirmed for me that alcohol is just another drug; that my illness is cunning and will go to great lengths to seduce me back into active addiction.
I can remember telling my dad, less than 60 days out of treatment, that “for now I choose not to drink. But perhaps some day I’ll be able to enjoy a nice glass of red wine with dinner.” Even as the words rolled off my tongue, I knew the foolishness of what I was saying. The experience of others confirms the misconception. I heard a story this week of a guy who started with just a sip at a party of a new lemon martini…and within a month, he had fallen hard. The good news is he found the strength to come back in the rooms, finding the support, encouragement and unconditional love he needed to reclaim sobriety. But, not everyone is able to do so.
Seeing that sign was a reminder…that a glass of red wine with dinner would turn into drinking a bottle of wine while cooking, then into worse. Nope, I understand even more deeply – I’m an alcoholic addict. Full stop. No reservations or qualifications.
So what became of that bottle of wine?
I recently went to dinner with some very dear friends, one of which I’ve known for almost 20 years. They would have been one of the couples with whom I would have savored the wine in celebration. I brought them the bottle and explained its history. At first, as I expected, they insisted on keeping it until I was able to enjoy it with them. But I explained to them that this is a lifelong process — there are no pre-planned detours — my life depends on that. So, while my primary drug of choice is crystal meth, I must face the truth that all drugs must go with the same conviction and commitment. I could see in my friends’ faces a deeper level of understanding and acceptance. I caught a glimpse of sadness as they realized the gravity…but I also know there are so many other ways that we can celebrate and have fun. And, I know they understand that as well. For starters, he and his wife know that I’m here – alive – able to celebrate period! Had December 21st transpired differently, that wouldn’t have been the case.
So, WC Fields – I also bid you farewell. I’ll talk with B. and ask her to replace you with another saying more in line with my recovery. Deeper than the quote on a board was the gift and the memory it brings of friends and family. That, I don’t want to lose. So, I’ll simply replace it with something that can carry the same message and be in line with my recovery….further proof that recovery doesn’t mean the end of enjoying life. In fact, it’s the beginning of really enjoying the emotions & experiences that life brings — on life’s terms. For that, I’m grateful.