Sunday, August 28, 2011


I've been thinking about the 'click' lately.

Maybe you know the one?  After you've had a drink, or two, and life just seems to click into place?  The edges get all warm and fuzzy, you love everyone and everything, and boredom and anxiety feel like distant memories?

Yeah, that click.

It is Friday night, and we are hanging out at our beach camp, lounging on the porch and watching the sun go down.  The neighborhood has gathered on someone's porch for drinks, and they are having a grand old time.  The sounds of laughter and clinking glasses permeate the air, and I listen wistfully.

I have that sun drenched, salty feeling; the one that goes so well with a smooth glass of wine. 

My back is sore - I threw it out again early last week - and the kids are clamoring for dinner. The thought of sweating over the grill, or the stove, makes me tired right down to my bones.  Oh, how I want that click.  It would ease my back pain, make the idea of cooking dinner seem palatable, I think.

To distract myself, I go for a little walk, up to the lighthouse on the point next to our cottage.  I sit and listen to the birds, feel the cool evening breeze on my face.  

I think about all the women I have met recently - either in person or through emails - who are brand new to sobriety, or who are struggling to get sober.

This is why it's so hard, I think, to stay away from that first drink.  Nothing beats that click, not really.  It's the antidote to boredom, a prescription for instant relaxation.  

I take deep breaths, feel my lungs inflate with the fresh air.  In.  Out.  Think it through, Ellie. 

The difference between me and a normal drinker is that the click is just the beginning for me.  

Normal drinkers ride that warm feeling, have a drink or two and coast along on happy, relaxed sociability.  They milk the click for all it's worth, but for them it stops there.

I was born without an off switch.  Once I hit the click, I no longer control how much I will drink.  It has always been that way.  

I remember how I tried everything - everything - to get to the click and stay there.  I tried only drinking beer. Or wine. I tried only drinking on weekends, or only when I was out with friends.  Even if I only drank on occasion, there was no telling where I'd end up once I started.  Sometimes I could control it, and for years I thought only about those times when I was able to rein it in, stop at the click.   There were only a few examples to choose from, but I kept them close at hand, and discarded all the evidence to the contrary.

With a sigh, I turn and head back to the cottage, a heavy feeling in my bones. I miss it, I think.  And that's okay.  Ride it out.  It will pass.  It always does. 


Later that evening, after the dishes are washed up and dessert devoured, we settle down at the kitchen table to work on a 550 piece puzzle.  The only light comes from a portable gas lantern, and it casts a warm glow over the kids' faces, like a campfire.

"It's family puzzle night!" Greta grins.

Finn furrows his brow, looking for one certain piece.  When he finds it his face lights up: "I FOUND it, Momma!  That makes FWEE pieces for me!"

I would have missed this, I think. I would have gone into numbness, there-but-not-there, my mind distracted by whether it would be okay to pour another drink.

Greta leans her head on my shoulder, "I love family puzzle night," she says with a contented sigh.

And, all of a sudden, there it is: I'm content, relaxed.  I'm happy.



  1. beautiful, revealing, and authentic. love this. <3

  2. Wow. You captured what I was thinking. It's my 3rd day (again) and I'm alone watching the kids play. Feeling kinda bored and found myself hella pissed off that I "shouldn't" have a drink, getting irritate and thinking, well, "one won't hurt...everybody else does it!"

    Thanks. Your post was timely, and to the point. I'm not drinking today.

  3. perfectly right on- you just "clicked" for me and I needed it tonight. Thank-you. Again.

  4. <3 Ellie you have a way of saying, perfectly, what so many of us think and feel. Thank you.

  5. Ellie, like you i could never stop with a warm glow and never knew where I’d end up. Finally laying it down and being present won out and it’s been nearly three decades now. Thanks for sharing this post.

  6. This is such a heartfelt and honest post. Thank you for sharing and congrats for finding your 'click' another way.

  7. Wow. I love this. What a great way to describe the difference between a "normal" drinker and somebody who can't stop...something I am always trying to be mindful/aware of as a daughter of an alcoholic (sure, I feel "normal" and in control when I have a glass of wine now, but I'm mindful that that can change, and sometimes the change creeps up on you. Like I'm sure it crept up on my mother.

    You are such an inspiration, Ellie.

  8. What an incredible post--great writing, so moving & honest. Wishing you many great family puzzle nights ahead.

  9. I don't know if you know this, but your blog helps so MANY of us who don't drink but have other 'click's in our lives - depression, sadness, stress, etc - and we get through them with your help and your example. We just have to 'own' that we have weakness that are every bit as real and cause damage to our spirits too.
    Thank you Ellie

  10. Ellie, this was wonderful! Really good. Hits home. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  11. OMG Ellie, I have been thinking of the "clink" since I think Friday, it will not shake. But you know, it helps to see that people with good sobriety get the thoughts too!! I have been talking with my sponsor about it, I think she is nervous because I am so far away, I think I am so nervous because I am so far away from her!! Thank you so much, I feel better, I know I don't want to go back, but boy you nailed it, I wish I was walking with you that night, it would have helped us both. Thanks again!!!