Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Small reminders

I've tried not to make much mention of me stopping drinking because I loathe people reminding me about it. Part of the battle in giving something up is removing it from your thoughts, which isn't easy when it's not only a mental compulsion but a physical one. (I don't get cravings as such but there's a definite alcohol comedown I've noticed in my body, partly good and partly bad.) As I mentioned last night this is the reason I haven't mentioned it to her yet as I don't want it to be the dominant subject of the day; I feel I can handle things much better by thinking about them properly in my own time and switching off from them the rest.

There was a little comment this morning that sparked the briefest flame of defensiveness. I say that word because it wasn't anger, or resentment... it was me, not taking enough time to think and be calm, feeling an impulsive reaction. Three of my friends have been made redundant and today is their last day, so everyone's going to the pub at dinner to say farewell. Normally I'd probably have a couple of pints of bitter over an hour. She said, "are you going for a lemonade at dinner then?" I'm not sure yet what it was about this that made me feel defensive. There is nothing wrong about the statement as I was fine in my head with popping over for a bit and having a brew or whatever. It was probably one, or both, of two things:
  • it being spelled out loud that I'm one of those people who has to cut down on drink so who goes and has a soft drink, explicitly - not "for a drink" or "for a beer" as is the norm, but "for a lemonade".
  • a vague first impression or suspicion of being patronised, of having the piss taken out of me, of being seen as a weak case. Or more accurately, a side swipe at my image as being one of the lads here who go for a pint.
The second is probably true, to be honest. It's been one of the things I've enjoyed about working here, with a good bunch of people and right in the town centre. Once or twice a week we go to the pub at dinner and it's been a great way to get to know everyone. I've made some great friends here, and not just drinking friends: I've been abroad with one, another one has been adopted by my parents, another took me to Glasto, and that's not to mention meeting my girlfriend at work. To tell the truth, I'm scared of losing all that. It's always great when I see my old friends but they're around less and less as the years go by and I can't get through the days with just a girlfriend and a passing acquaintance or two to keep me going - I like connecting to lots of people and getting to know the ones I like deeply, and I worry that by stopping drinking I'm going to see people less socially, and... that scares me.

It's funny how lemonade can trigger an avalanche of thoughts like this.

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