Reconnecting with my wife has been one of the most precious gifts of my sobriety. In the depths of my drinking, there were times when I felt that I’d lost her emotionally — times when I felt like we didn’t connect at all — and I didn’t know why. The reason is quite clear in retrospect, but when you’re stuck in your shit, you don’t see it.
In the early months of my sobriety, when I was waking up to feeling things again, I was often overwhelmed and my defense mechanism was to retreat into myself. There were times when I felt that I was completely blank. Times when I didn’t know what to say or do. And during those times, I was fearful that things wouldn’t get better, even though people told me that they would.
Gradually, as I became familiar with feeling my own emotions again — my actual emotions, rather than emotions heightened or dulled by intoxication — I started to find that I wasn’t completely broken. I began to mend myself and my relationships.
When I was in the depths of my drinking, my wife would try to get me to come out of my shell. She would propose date nights, dinner and a movie. And I resisted. I didn’t think that I liked movies and dinner meant not drinking the way I wanted to. Those nights were pained. We would go to dinner, I’d pregame with a secret glass of bourbon before going out, and then order a drink at dinner. It would disappear before the server was back for our order.
We would go through the motions of having a date, but I wasn’t there. No conversation took place. Imagine two people sitting in near silence at a nice restaurant eating dinner, glumly. That was us. And it sucked, for both of us.
After I’d had a bit of sober time, learned a few things about myself, and started to actually relate to other people again, the idea of a date with my wife was appealing. Suddenly, it was actually something that I looked forward to, and that I enjoyed.
This past weekend, we took an overnight trip to Philadelphia on Saturday and had a great time. It was largely unplanned. It wasn’t until we were going to bed Friday night that we decided that we’d be going to Philly on Saturday.
Saturday morning we went to our son’s basketball game before we got ourselves together to head out. While my wife was busy after the game, I looked over a few hotels she’d suggested. One was totally booked, and the other was a bit more expensive that we really wanted, but I found another that looked like it would be nice and fit our budget. When she got home, I booked it on my hotels.com app.
We packed up and took Mr. Grey to his cousin’s house and then got on the road. We got to Philly around 3 PM and had dinner reservations for 8:45 — late, but we hadn’t counted on the fact that this was the weekend before Valentine’s Day and just like us, others were celebrating too. Since we had a little time, we hit Reading Terminal Market and had a snack at Tommy DiNic’s.
I know you’re thinking that Philly is known for Cheesesteaks, and it is, but in my not so humble opinion the much better sandwich in Philadelphia is the Italian Roast Pork sandwich. Slow roasted pork, sharp provolone, and broccoli rabe. It may not sound as good as shaved rib eye, caramelized onions, and cheese, but trust me — its that damn good.
After that snack, we walked up Chestnut Street and ducked in and out of a few shops before heading back to get ready for dinner at the Butcher Bar. Dinner was a bit of a bust. The food was fabulous, but the atmosphere was just not our scene. Lesson learned, don’t ask your thirty-something coworker for restaurant recommendations when you are in your mid to late forties.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the Green Egg’s Cafe, where I had short rib eggs Benedict — yes, poached eggs atop slow roasted short ribs, with potato pancakes instead of english muffins. It was divine.
At several points during the weekend, I was keenly aware that we were having a lot of fun, just being together. We’d woken up and made a loose plan, gone to a different city and enjoyed the city as best we could during the short time we had there. It occurred to me several times that this is how things are supposed to be. I was keenly aware that we were having fun and it was a lot like when we were first dating. I know deep down in my soul that this is a gift of my sobriety. And for that gift I’m grateful.