Prosecco Dreams and Phantom Guilt: Eight and a Half Months Sober
Have you ever had a dream where you did or said something unspeakable, let alone forgivable, only to spend the entirety of the following day feeling guilty about it? You definitely didn’t steal from charity, fuck your student, or go on a murder spree, but you still walk around all day feeling sick to your stomach that you unwillingly dreamt about it.
I have always been a vivid dreamer. Sometimes, I dream so viscerally that my OCD completely overtakes my logical brain and I believe that what I have dreamt is true or will become true. I have written previously about waking from a nightmare in which my sister died, not believing she was alive until I had spoken to her on the phone. My dreams are often disturbing and rarely cathartic. Often, I wake up in the morning confused and stressed, finding it difficult to leave the bed until I have processed and understood exactly what went on during the night. As I’ve said in the past, it seems that the trade-off of the pharmaceutical cocktail that has makes my waking hours bearable and sleep possible (without the crippling anxiety of obsessing over things that I know aren’t happening but compulsively making sure that they aren’t happening) is the increased state of what I might call “dream anxiety”.
Lately, I’ve been dreaming of prosecco. Press night prosecco, wedding party prosecco, sometimes even — gasp — free champagne. In my dreams, I’m never alone. I’m always at some sort of event, surrounded by people, most of whom know I’m sober, or at least should be. And the frustrating thing is that I’ve been in those situations. Since I quit drinking in April, I’ve been to house parties, weddings, birthdays, opening nights, press nights, closing nights, wrap parties, first dates, second dates, and all sorts of anxiety-inducing situations, and I’ve done them all sober. I’ve tended bar sober, sniffed my friends’ wine, even on a couple of occasions held a mouthful of delicious bubbles in my mouth for a few glorious moments before spitting it into an empty glass (not something I recommend, but I am proud of my restraint). On my second date with my now-girlfriend we ran into our (yes, our) ex-boyfriend and I managed not to have a drink. It’s been 259 days now since I’ve consumed alcohol of any…