Sunday, 19 April 2015

Breaking hearts not bottles

It's Sunday night, and I'm sitting on my sofa, in my pyjamas, unable to summon the energy to get my clothes out of the washing machine, but knowing that I need to wear some of them tomorrow. Oh, and I've also dyed my hair orange by accident, and have work in the morning. Excellent work, great job team.
Unfortunately post-hair dye fiasco, the resemblance goes beyond being just the sentiment.

So after my 'return to form' blog post on Tuesday, I had a 'return to form' evening out on Wednesday. it was a hot day, I was busy and stressed, and I went for one drink after work with colleagues. I had one, but wasn't ready to go home, so messaged an old friend and went for a few coronas and frozen margaritas at my favourite tequila bar. Next thing I know, its 10pm, and we're in a gay pub watching a drag act, who then took advantage of my 'good nature' (read: need for attention), 'friendliness' (read: did he have a pulse?) and 'approachability' (read: I was hammered) and went for a snog. Ok then.

Arriving home at 2.30am without a bank card, having woken up at the end of the night bus, to have to wake my long suffering (5 weeks is long enough she would argue..) flatmate to ask for 20 quid so I could pay the cab driver who rescued me and was now threatening to call the police, was not what i had in mind for mid-week activities.

Why did the Mexican push his wife off a cliff?
 Universal answer to any question?
So clearly the drinking is still a work in process - and I think in many ways, it will be for a long time. I'm looking to find ways to help myself make better choices, but I don't want to force it with labels I'm not ready to deal with - do I need to add a 'yet' to this statement? I'm really going to try now to not have the mid-week drinks now and stick to the gym instead. I've also decided that having spent years of saying I don't want a relationship, and I like not having to answer to anyone but myself (and sometimes, not even then!) that I am now ready to see who is out and about. I've never felt that there is anything wrong with a cheeky one night stand, but I'm ready for something more. This is a huge step for me, and I think that my sober 31 days in Jan really gave me the confidence in myself that there was more to me than being the life and soul of a Tuesday night party. I've met up with a couple of people but am now trying to navigate the dating scene and etiquette, and the relationship that alcohol has to both of these things.

I don't really like the word 'date' - its too formal, why dress up what is essentially 2 people hanging out as anything else, and always makes me think of an exam, or audition. I'm happy to grab a drink and have a chat, see if there is the chemistry there, but I've also had 'dates' where I've got absolutely wankered and made a complete tit out of myself. Once, nearly 4 years ago, I found myself directing traffic in Pimlico at 5am with video footage appearing on BBC breakfast news due to the 'traffic disturbance' after I had been on a date the night before... I couldn't tell you how the date ended, but I know that I ended up being pointed towards a homeless shelter by a passer by, so I'm pretty sure that my date for the evening hadn't asked me to call them so we could go out again...

Regardless of how you want to behave when you meet someone - and hopefully it will be better than my own behaviour 4 years ago - you qlso need to decide whether you want to be in an environment where alcohol plays the third wheel. Will someone know you for yourself if you are propped up by a crutch of cider or vodka? Alcohol will cloud your judgement - waking up next to... erm.... eh? the next morning is a possibility (happened to yours truly week before last after date no1), but at the same time what options do you have? If you tell someone you don't fancy a drink, people will 9/10 ask why, or assume you are an alcoholic. On the assumption that you are an alcoholic, people will make further assumptions about you, as is their right, but only when their assumption is informed by experience, or something more concrete than sensationalist articles in the Daily Mail. Should I have to tell someone that I don't want to have a drink, because I want to be the best possible version of myself? Bit dark there, oh look, phone's ringing, oh darn, I do believe that I have an emergency that I must attend. Don't call me.

No more mid-week post-breakdown-at-work drinks... Eesh
I also someone this weekend - friend of a friend - who now doesn't drink and hasn't for the best part of a year. I found it so interesting, compelling and ultimately inspiring, talking to her as she is someone who is a couple of years older than me (not all people who have identified issues with their drinking are 'middle aged' you know, its not a prerequisite), and who is very attractive /good looking, and looks to maintain an active social life. Even from my January experience, you would be amazed as how many people look at you differently, and not necessarily in a good way, when you don't have a drink regardless of how quietly you sip your soda and fresh lime, or Becks Blue. Whether it is because you are 'boring,' or perhaps you have 'changed,' aren't so much 'fun' or whether its just the case that your 'mate' (I do love an air quote) feels uneasy and uncomfortable because your actions no no longer excuse, facilitate or condone their own outlandish behaviour.

As someone who has spent the last few years working in hospitality, and literally living and breathing a culture that runs on alcohol, it can be quite unsettling and upsetting to see how many 'friends' you 'lose' (i say 'lose' but really you never had them in the first place - what you had was a drinking buddy) because they think you have removed the common ground that connects you, until you realise that what this person is is dead-wood, holding you back, dragging you down.

And so for now, I'm going back to basics, sorting the dead-wood, and freeing up my time and energy for causes and persons who will play a role because I want them to in my future, and not those bit-players who had a one-line cameo in the haze that has passed. Turn on, tune in, drop out? Pfft, sorry 'mate', places to go, people to see.

Baby steps - this week I will not drink until Friday.

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