After the last two months, I know that I can cope with anxiety and stress without drinking.
I truly believe that there is no problem in life that cannot be made worse by alcohol.
When the s**t hits the fan, you need a clear head, not one befuddled by booze, or hijacked by a hangover.
But I still miss it when it comes to celebrating.
(Not the tiny 'celebrations' of old, like making it through to 'wine o'clock' with all three children unscathed, but the proper biggies).
Two weeks ago, when my oncologist told me I didn't need chemotherapy, he suggested that Mr SM and I "go crack open the champagne."
(And this was after I told him that I didn't drink).
Somehow, in those types of situations, eating a piece of cake just doesn't feel adequate.
And Christmas is like that. Along with birthdays, it's the occasion when a Becks Blue feels a bit bleurgh.
I have never done a sober Christmas. Even when I was pregnant I allowed myself (with my obstetrician's blessing) a glass of wine or two on Christmas Day.
So, knowing that December 25th may be tough, I'm limbering up in preparation.
Step one is being honest, which means revisiting the Ghost of Christmas Past.
When I think about drinking at Christmas, the glasses I remember are:
(1) The crisp, chilled white wine while wrapping the stocking presents on Christmas eve.
(2) The glass of champagne while getting Christmas lunch ready, and
(3) The full bodied glass of red with the turkey.
(Even typing that list I can hear the Wine Witch whispering ooh yes. Go on. You could have just those three. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? For f***s sake, you're celebrating Christmas, nine months sober AND getting over cancer!)
(For more on the Wine Witch, see my post: The Wine Witch)
But the trick is to force yourself to remember all the others.
Because I wouldn't drink one glass while wrapping the presents. I'd drink a bottle.
I'd often put the wrong presents in the wrong stockings leading to bemusement the following morning as one of my daughters would find football socks, and my son a Barbie.
("Ha! Ha!" Mr SM would chortle, "Santa was at the whisky again last night!")
I'd wake up, as usual, at 3am and toss and turn, sweating and hating myself, until around 5.30am when the troops would pile in. Three children and a dog, brimming over with excitement and anticipation.
Instead of joining in the joy of Christmas morning, I'd try to hide my aching head under a pillow, while panicking about preparing Christmas lunch for ten, on three hours sleep and a hangover.
By 11am it would feel like we'd been at it for hours, and we'd open the first bottle of champagne (the only day of the year when drinking before midday is not only acceptable, but obligatory).
By 1pm I'd have drunk most of a bottle and lunch would be going seriously screwy. Juggling turkey, stuffing, five vegetables and gravy making is testing at the best of times, and near impossible when drunk and knackered.
The children would be high on sugar and consumerism, and behaving terribly in front of grandparents. Requiring more alcohol to dampen the stress.
Finally sitting down for lunch was a huge relief, requiring....a toast! Plenty of fine red wine, continuing well into the afternoon. After all - IT'S CHRISTMAS!
Final tally by the end of the day: two bottles? Maybe three?
An afternoon and evening spent dozing on and off, and trying to ignore the children. A toxic night tossing and turning, and Boxing Day feeling like near death.
Was it just me, or were your Christmases anything like that?
So, having made myself re-live the reality of Christmas Past, I now have to find a way of really appreciating Christmas Present and Christmases Future. Without the booze.
And that's the subject of tomorrow's blog....