Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, me a neglectful and lazy blogger! Despite it being busy at work and the last few weekends being full to the brim with Things, I’m still feeling a large, low cloud of guilt about not having blogged for two whole weeks. BUT, and it’s a big but, I am still here, I am still not drinking, and somehow, thanks to a good following wind and bloody-minded determination, I am now…drum roll, please …50 DAYS SOBER!!
50 sounds big to me. It’s now officially my longest stint in booze-free-world (which sounds like a lesser-known and much less popular park in Westworld, where the newly self-aware droids suddenly start mixing amazing cocktails and calling all the guests boring party-poopers rather than killing them…) and I’m extremely pleased to be here. I’ve also set up a Twitter account as @thissobergirl so that I can follow inspiring sober folks and wave at them from my tiny corner of the blogosphere! In addition, I have received approximately 7,000 GDPR emails, conquered a tetchy week at work, screamed loudly at everyone on the internet to support the Repeal the 8th movement, belatedly discovered Brooklyn 99, and learned how to make a kickass mushroom soup. And now I’m propped up on pillows in my bed, tapping away at my keyboard.
In addition, over the last two weeks, I had two big, potentially challenging social events to navigate: one very late-night Eurovision party that we host every year (THANK YOU, my many pregnant friends: this time we outnumbered the boozers!), and one all-day royal wedding party hosted by my lovely friend Seamus. Now, true story time; at the last royal wedding party I attended back in 2011, I was charged with the duty of making an epic royal family quiz for the assembled guests to enjoy. I happily obliged, being a now-fervent republican with a childhood history of a semi-worrying level of obsession with the royal family, and created a five-round masterpiece which I then promptly got too drunk to deliver, tried to do so nonetheless and then slowly fell off my chair in the middle of attempting to conduct a picture round about previous royal wedding gowns. Memo to self: all-day drinking and trying to use your laptop = an expensive accident waiting to happen, especially when said laptop ends up smashing through someone else’s pinot grigio and you get both wine and glass-shards in your precious MacBook. Oh, and your own thigh. Further true story: one of the guests, an old friend of mine, was a literal FORMER ADDICT AND ADDICTION RECOVERY MEDICAL SPECIALIST. Sometimes, real life gives you fourth-wall-breaking side-eye that would put Deadpool to shame.
Remarkably, after that little display, I was invited back by m’dear friend Seamus for this year’s festivities. The BBQ was delicious, the sun shone, the hallowed, traditional arguments between monarchists and Corbynite lefties happened, and I drank tonic water with lots of ice and lime. We had to get home in time to watch the FA Cup final, so had our excuse for an early vanishing act, and I enjoyed myself immensely. One of the guests, however, was baffled by my not-drinking. I’ve thus far managed to avoid the worst of other people’s opinionated perspectives on my not-drinking: for the most part, everyone I know has been pleased, positive and completely respectful of my decision, and I’ve even met a few fellow, stealthy, under-the-radar quitters as I’ve started to open up about my current sobriety. THIS GUY, on the other hand…well, he had the full script ready and insisted on going through a complete-wanker-table-read of this brand new episode of “Challenge a Sober Person on their Stupid Life Choices.”
“Are you not drinking?” I am drinking. It is called tonic water and is easily identifiable as a liquid. I am not drinking alcohol, no.
“Oh. Are you pregnant?” Uh, none of your damn business, and literally who gets to his (fairly raddled) age without knowing that people might just have a complicated, private story of fertility issues which make this a fairly insensitive question?
“So would you call yourself an alcoholic, then?” See above. I might call YOU an alcoholic, though, Mr Second-Bottle-of Yellow Tail.
“Why give up, then? Why not drink less?” Genius, mate. I can guarantee that no problem drinker has ever thought of that, much less tried it. Let me get AA on the phone and they can all retire.
“But don’t you want a drink?” Sweetie, I would gleefully leap across the room and drain that entire glass of cheap red wine in your hand in one gulp. YES I want a drink. Welcome to THE ENTIRE POINT.
“What do you even DO on a Friday night, then? When you’re tired and fed up after a week at work? How do you relax?” Badly. Badly. I am learning new strategies like going to the gym and taking an hour’s alone-time and having a bubble bath and planning a delicious meal so I have something to look forward to, but no, it’s not the same as the feeling of pounding back a socially-sanctioned bucket of booze. And I actually have to sit with my frustrations and my weariness without medicating it away.
“And how long are you going to keep this up?” Aha. That’s easy. It’s literally in the title-line of my blog. First for a year, then…we’ll see.
“Isn’t that a bit…extreme?”
And reader, at that point, I grabbed the BBQ skewers, ritually disembowelled him whilst cackling, and turned him into a fricassee-de-moron to accompany the artisan lamb-burgers.
Ok, so, that would probably have been even more of a social faux-pas than the falling-off-chair-wine-glass-smashing saga. So I didn’t do that. I answered his questions with as much of a smile as I could muster, and when I couldn’t cope with his combination of inquisition plus red-wine-swilling any longer, I made my excuses, went outside into the sunshine and vaped like an angry dragon.
I mean, it had to happen. There was always going to be one. I didn’t let it ruin my day, and I didn’t let it get to me…well, not TOO much, anyway. And I don’t know that guy: I don’t know his issues and struggles, and I certainly don’t know if his confrontational response to a sober person was driven by genuine stupidity, a core of arrogance or, just maybe, a defensive, dark place of knowing that he, too, sitting at a party drinking very heavily, might have a problem.
What I did come away with, as we drove home, was a rock-hard feeling that I am doing the right thing. The Booze Bitch, who was hovering balefully over my shoulder and eyeing his wine, scuttled back into her cave and settled back down. And a week later, on Day 50, I get to head off to the gym with a clear head, a sense of achievement, and a string of clear-headed mornings which sit between me and my last hangover, getting me further and further away from the Bad Mornings.
(Coming soon…Day 51, and Andie frets about next week, in which she must travel to a far-away land for a VERY long weekend which involves a friend’s wedding, a house-full of pissed-up former drinking buddies, and a series of temptations which will make Odysseus and the Sirens look very much like a leisurely walk in the park.)