I feel it around sundown, sometimes a little earlier.
A low rumbling in my chest, or an ache in my belly, a feeling of incompleteness, like I'm missing something.
I start to get cranky, short with the kids. The idea of cooking dinner feels like an insurmountable task.
We're out at our beach cottage. The weather is spectacular- the sunset fills the sky with hues of pink, purple and red. A slight breeze comes in through the open kitchen window, bringing with it the smells of summer - honeysuckle, BBQs and suntan lotion.
I hear the 'pshhhht' of a neighbor opening a cold beer, and the tinkling of some ice in a glass somewhere further off. All around me, people relax on porches with sweating glasses of white wine, or a cocktail full of exotic juices.
The kids and I have had a fun-filled day on the beach, but now we have that sandy, itchy, sweaty feeling. I need to give them showers, find something to eat, rummage around for some clean clothes for them to wear.
I don't want to do any of these things. I realize, finally, that what I want is a drink.
This has been happening more this summer than it has in years. I know, logically, that it's the trauma of the past year, the anxiety that plagues (and triggers) me. Even though the anxiety is better, I self-medicated for it for years with alcohol. Now that it's back, the siren call of a drink is louder.
I won't drink. I know where it leads. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.
Later that night I sit on the porch with my husband, admiring the bright stars and enjoying the cool air. The urge for a drink has passed; it always does. I tell him about the cravings, how they are hitting me more frequently, and why.
He nods his head sympathetically. "That makes sense," he says, and I'm relieved. "That would be hard for me, too, if I were in your shoes."
"Last year I was out here for two weeks and all I felt was gratitude for my sobriety," I say. "This year, I'm not feeling it as much. I'm grateful I'm not drinking - I know where that leads - but I'm not head-over-heels in love with my recovery like I was last year."
It feels better to admit it. It feels smaller.
He nods again, this time his brow furrows a bit. "Is there anything I can do?" he asks.
"No," I reply. "Just listen."
He puts an arm around me and we sit quietly.
That hollow feeling that something is missing evaporates, and I am grateful.