Something happened a couple of days ago which made me physically remember one of the worst parts about secret drinking – the fear of being found out.
Even though it’s only 12 ½ weeks since I quit drinking, it feels like years. That’s probably why this situation caught me completely off-guard. My partner was baking some cakes yesterday and told me that the recipe needed some sweet nut-flavoured liqueur to drizzle over the cake. A friend had given us a bottle of a nut-flavoured liqueur a few years ago – and an almost full bottle should have been in the drinks cabinet… Should have been.
I was standing closest to the drinks cabinet when he told me the recipe. My stomach sank, my pulse started racing, I felt a bit light headed and anxious. I had no idea what to expect when I opened the cabinet – had I drunkenly polished off that bottle? Would it be almost empty? I kept thinking ‘How unfair if I was found out now after I’m finally on top of my problem!’ and ‘How would I explain it if it was empty or missing?’.
As luck had it, it was only 1/3 empty. Not empty enough to raise any eyebrows. I’d probably been saved by my irrational sugar phobia (sure I sneakily swigged spirits to increase my buzz – but I avoided the sickly sweet drinks… ‘cos they might give me diabetes!). I would have only ever had a couple of little swigs when everything else was running too low.
The whole incident ended up being a non-issue but it reminded me of the way things used to be. I used to spend a lot of time and energy feeling on edge – replacing bottles, worried the empties would get noticed in the bin, working out when to buy replacements, how to get replacements back in the house and cabinet without being seen, keeping the levels in the bottles the same. Now and then, when I hadn’t had time to cover my tracks, a situation like yesterday would happen which would cause that anxious, sinking feeling in my stomach when I thought I might get found out.
The event reminded me that I still have to replace a bottle of Bacardi. One of the emergency tricks I used when I couldn’t afford to top up a bottle or get to the shops, was to top up clear spirits with a little bit of water. One bottle of diluted Bacardi is the last physical reminder of the way things were.
Gee it was a lot of effort, planning and headspace. Gee I don’t miss it. Gee I’m glad I quit. I should come clean about my drinking but for now I’ll just keep focused on being sober.