Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tempus fugit

Good lord, Thursday already? I'd done a good job of writing daily until now, but as always seems to happen with these things, it's proved impossible to keep up the pace. Truth be told, anything in the last few days would have only been filler. I have been busy every evening and by the time I'm home I rarely have the energy to sit and muse.

By Saturday it will have been two weeks. As I said to a mate yesterday, I'd half-hoped I'd be leaping about with excess energy by now, but it seems that all alcohol does is cream off the top 10% so you still end up feeling pretty much the same. I was curious what effect it would have on my other little ailments, namely my chronic heartburn and strange little pain around my hip. So far as the heartburn goes, it has proved helpful in offering a little support to my belief that I'm not so much suffering from persistent heartburn, but rather a burned or damaged oesophagus which is irritated by occasional heartburn. It feels vaguely better but that may just be psychosomatic. As for the hip, well, that's just the same so it's probably unrelated to drinking completely.

My girlfriend wrote a note on the internet last night that causes me to ponder where to go from here. She was full of praise for how over "the last week and a bit" - what a coincidence! - something "has clicked". In these situations, I become WOPR and fly into the future to predict as many scenarios as possible. Invariably, pessimism wins and I then have to conjure ways of defeating what has not yet happened. The future with the highest likelihood seems to be one where she associates me not drinking at all with things being great. I do not want this association to form as I'm tired already of even thinking about the long, dull conversations about moderation, temperance, a little bit of everything, etc etc etc...

Undeniably, things have been mellow over the past fortnight. But then again, things are smooth 99% of the time anyway so it's not much of a change, really. All it's done is stop those times when I've had a drink (not anything excessive, just a normal few drinks) and it sets my mind free from the normal routine of how my head works, I lose myself and begin to think extrovertly rather than introvertly; a consequence of this is that I want to do and feel things I normally can't so I lose interest in the touchy-feely stuff and pay her less attention because I want to communicate with other people. I guess that's not just down to drink but also my attitude to a group situation, that I don't want someone next to me niggling away all the time while I've got the group to think about. She doesn't seem to think that way and in the past has probably blamed it on drink but perhaps Saturday night may have shown her that it is how I need to be in a group.

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.