I went into downtown Washington, D.C. today to have lunch with three women I worked with nearly 25 years ago. I still can’t get it through my head that I can say I did anything as far back 25 years ago. (Yes, I worked when I was five years old). I hadn’t seen them since I “came out” about my alcoholism. I know they read my blog so they are aware of my sobriety.

We met at an old favorite Mexican restaurant and I watched the waiters bringing margaritas, cold beers and shots of tequila to other diners. The cold beers looked really good. So did the margaritas. The tequila shots seemed a bit much even for me, an alcoholic, on a normal Wednesday afternoon. I thought about how in the old days, pre-sobriety, I would have been knocking back margaritas without giving it a second thought. But my friends all ordered non-alcoholic drinks, as did I.

I used to drive into DC from Northern Virginia every day when I worked as a lobbyist. Today, I felt like I was driving to Mars. Driving in the city brought a tsunami of memories as I passed bars I frequented, restaurants where I wined and dined colleagues and offices I visited for meetings, usually hungover. The liquor store near my old office was still there. Always a convenient place to pick up bottles of wine for Christmas gifts for others, or bottles of something stronger for Hangover Thursday gifts for myself.

The memories were both good and bad. Certainly many laughs and lots of good times. But also lots of mistakes and escapades I’d rather forget. The flood of memories came just after a string of several big disappointments the past two days. Suffice it to say that I had gotten my hopes up for a few things only to be slammed back down. In addition, a friend relapsed. And I have a nasty sinus infection. And none of my summer clothes fit. So my point with all this whining is what you ask?

Any of these things on their own would be enough to feel like a kick in the stomach, but the perfect storm of crap that has blown in the last few days has me thinking how nice a big (huge) drink would be right now. It’s that swirling around of so many different feelings in my head (much like the swirly margaritas I drooled over today at lunch) that makes it tough as an alcoholic. I used to drink to get all these feelings in check, or, more accurately, to get them to go the f— away. I drank to numb, so I didn’t have to actually feel the feelings. But now I do.

While feeling the bad feelings hurts (immensely sometimes), feeling the good ones can be an inexplicable joy. Memories fall into the same category. And the farther along I get in my recovery, the more memory bubbles that keep popping up. As much as my head hurts at times like this, and I’m not sure what to do with all these feelings since I no longer wash them down with booze, I’d still rather feel the ups and downs than not feel anything.

Yes, I know that life is full of disappointments. And yes, I understand that I just need to suck it up and put on my big girl panties. But sometimes I need to whine. And whining is better than wining. So thanks for letting me.

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything– Kurt Vonnegut