Sunday, 4 January 2009

A full day out

Something of a victory, yesterday. To follow the analogy of the speech at school, the second time was by no means perfect but it was certainly easier. I will not look back with the advantage of hindsight as in these cases it is tainted and useless; the temptation is there to break yesterday down into small chunks and look back on them thinking hah, what on Earth was I worried about? Yet that would be to ignore the very real fears I had at the time. I would suggest that an important part of this process of changing my feelings toward drink is not to forget completely what my old compulsions were like, but to remember and understand them as a warning for the future.

I had to field a few questions about why I wasn't drinking. The stock answers worked well enough - I'd had enough after Christmas, I was saving a bit of money (and Christ, have I saved some money), I usually try to have a bit of a break in January. It worked well enough in the whole. I think it depends a lot on who's asking the questions. With people I know well - and yesterday I was lucky enough to spend the whole day with people I know well - I can laugh off any silly answers I get back without feeling I need to explain myself. For some reason, with people I'm not too confident around I get an urge to explain every last detail of why I'm doing this, as if I'm an innocent terrorist suspect having to justify my every last action.

It was good to spend the night with people knowing I could do it without a drink. At times, I felt a little tired by the effort it takes to be outgoing while sober, and had to have a quiet moment. I felt like I would have had a better time with a few drinks, but probably only because it would have taken that edge off, that constant awareness that I had to make an effort to stay on the same level as everyone else. I was with a good bunch, though. Wit is the order of the day rather than drunken outrageousness, so it wasn't too hard to fit in; indeed, my mind is sharper while sober so I caught more of what went on. If only the headaches would go! Sugar pounding through my head from the lemonades and fruit juices... only at the end can I muster the will to get a glass of water, a moral point deeply rooted in my head from years of the stance: pubs are for drinking!

This weekend has given me some confidence. It would be easy for this to become a depressing chronicle of my fears and woes, but it's important to mark the high points too, and I'm pleased that a week into my attempt to rid myself of the old habits, I've broken through one of my main fears: being incapable of seeing people socially without a drink to help me through.

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