We went to a drinks party yesterday afternoon. It was on that seasonal knife-edge between really lovely and unbearably tedious… my children certainly felt the latter and congregated with a few other unlucky kids in the utility room. I felt like joining them at some points but resolutely did the social dance of catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a while, or over Christmas. It being New Year’s Day quite a few of my peers were conducting post mortems of the night before – who had ended the night with more of a bottle of Amaretto inside them than they would have liked this morning, and so on.

I didn’t miss having a drink as social lubricant, although of course there was that familiar pang of denial. Many people did have some wine, just the odd glass, enough to raise the conversational volume and bring roses to the cheeks of a few Miss Marple types attending. When I am not actually physically at this sort of event, this is where I tell myself I still miss drinking. The anticipation of feeling left out and weird. Whereas in reality quite a few of the people I spoke to were on orange juice. (Very nice fresh orange juice too, with bits in. Not stuff that tastes as if it came out of a can. Urgh.) No-one questioned what was in my glass at all. Of COURSE they didn’t. 

I did have the becoming-familiar wobbles afterwards. I had timed a run for after the party, as it was hideous weather here all yesterday and I was going to get very wet and muddy whenever I went. During the course of my run I came to a point next to a small river where it had come up over the road. This was on an isolated country lane. I stood at the edge of the water for a few moments, trying to decide what to do. I had a route planned out in my mind and was cross at the idea of having to change my plans. I could have run through it – it probably was only a foot or so deep – but in the end I turned round and ran a different loop. It wasn’t worth the risk.

At the moment that is pretty much how I am feeling about alcohol. I have to stay completely away from even the idea of it.

I shrink at the idea of being pulled back down into the depths again. Being swept away, out of control. Dragged under.

I don’t think it is fear. I hope it is a healthy respect for a dangerous substance. And for now that is a protective mechanism, keeping me safe, so I get home to my family and the warm and dry.