There it was, my poison sitting right in front of me, compliments “on the house,” like a welcoming gift. Nothing really separated this occasion from all my others, except this one involved a press trip and not someone trying to get me into their bed. I smelled it. I assessed it. I contemplated if “one” shot would mean I broke my sobriety and what that would mean afterwards. I thought back to AA meetings where fellow addicts talked about temptations, relapsing and going on a drunken bender.
When the chef came over I asked him what it was, just in case in 8 months I forgot what alcohol was.
“Honey flavoured rakija.” Nope, I was right.
Aha! I knew it but surely if it’s honey flavoured, this usual balkan poison would be softened, perhaps sweeter? “Oh, it’s alcohol… I can’t drink it then…“
“No no, it’s not alcoholic.” I knew there was no such thing.
Balkan humour has a funny way of tapping into your psyche and my turkish coffee had barely hit my blood stream and I was in no way to let anyone know at 10am they were in actual fact talking to an alcoholic. The word ‘alcoholic‘ means different things to different people. And in my 8 months of sobriety I have learned that many people are highly uneducated about the disease of alcoholism.
When I was fuelling my alcoholism, I thought this meant I was an alcoholic but the word alcoholic is a term used to define your disease for the rest of your life. You defeat alcoholism by staying sober one day at a time.
I messaged my sister in Sydney and told her I was tempted to take the shot, I kind of didn’t want to feel rude. She had her own opinions, “Do what you want but I don’t think you should, you’ve come so far.” My sister knew me too well, no matter what her opinion, I was going to do what I wanted anyway.
I thought ahead, so if I took the shot, how would I feel afterwards? What was my intention? One shot of rakija would never make me drunk or more comfortable in my surrounding, it was never my drink but it is very normal for people in my country to take a shot in the morning to ‘wake them up’ and get the day started. However, one shot of rakija would make me question why I felt the need to take that one shot. What was I trying to achieve in that moment? I’ve said no to foe friends who have dangled my disease in front of me hoping I’d relapse and feed their ego. Why was this moment not a no-brainer? I have never been afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings in the past.
In the end I didn’t take the shot, not a sip or another look at it. I left it on the table. Many of you will read this and think I am a nut job to dissect a normal situation like that. You’re not alcoholics, you’re not addicts. You’ll never understand this text. But for any of you who are and who do understand the finer print, one day at a time.
I have two sayings or mantras that keep me strong in recovery-
One. What would someone who loved them self do?
Two. The last time you were drunk and high you wished your life looked the way it does now.