When I first stopped drinking, I had a recurring dream in which I was raising a large martini glass to my lips. I’d inhale the juniper aroma of the gin, spy three large olives bobbing, and watch as beads of sweat rolled down the sides of the glass in sensual anticipation.
They probably lasted just a few seconds, but these dream sent my brain into utter mayhem.
Before I could take a sip, I’d catch myself, realize my mistake – that I had forgotten my decision just long enough to come so close. There was confusion, guilt, and shame.
And longing. Could I have just one sip? One glass? Would that be enough? Or would I get back on the un-merry-go-round?
Awakening, I would wish I had realized I was dreaming. But I lacked the Inception-style self-awareness that might have allowed me to enjoy my drink guilt-free knowing that in reality, I’d kept my promise. If I were more creative – or perhaps if I’d conjured Leonardo DiCaprio to help me navigate my dreamscape – I might have created a dream within a dream in which my first-layer dreamer stayed sober while my second-layer dreamer willingly delved deeper and drew deep on that glass to satisfy a curiosity and indeed a thirst – the best of both worlds.
Part of me is ashamed to admit I would have taken that sip had I realized I was dreaming. This decision I’ve made feels like one that should extend to the far reaches of my conscious and unconscious mind. But this decision I made – and make every day – has consequences only in the real world, where tops spin out and stop and only I know what is real and true.