Thursday, 29 January 2009

Something of a setback

I'm feeling pretty low at the moment. To cut a long story short, it seems she doesn't like me much at the moment, because I've been having a few drinks. Even just something moderate, which is what I've been doing. I haven't been drunk even though I've had a couple of things on this week, and it was good getting through crappy wintry days at work knowing I could relax with a pint and a natter with people at the end of it. I've missed that over the last month and I thought everything was going okay with it (because we'd been out together a couple of times and she seemed fine with me, even said she had a good night) but she's since been funny with me all week and it turns out she'd got the idea I'd been secretly drinking, or keeping it quiet, or something - not sure of the specifics of exactly what I'm supposed to have done, but you get the idea. It all stemmed from a misunderstanding over an empty wine bottle - I'd had a glass and as the recycling had just gone out, I put the bottle back in the cupboard rather than start a new pile straight away. Didn't give it a second thought really, it was just one of those things with a simple reason that you do a hundred times a day and forget about. I don't know why she's gone looking in that cupboard at my house to find this bottle and get angry about, and I haven't asked since it would detract from the main issue, but it's just spiralled from there. I asked her last night what was up and when she said "if you'd finished with a bottle would you put it back in the cupboard?" this massive wave of gloom washed over me, it felt like we were back at square one and I'd made precisely no progress with her at all. In addition, I have a very low boredom threshold with absurd arguments and that misunderstanding just left me so exasperated I was almost laughing out of delirium.

I'm trying to be rational about my feelings because I'm very wary of being defensive. But I think I've broken that defensiveness down already, by going on this very mission to change things. It would have been easier to reject her opinions and carry on regardless of the end result, but I like her too much to risk that. I feel really disappointed. I don't know if I've kept so much of this to myself that it hasn't been obvious the effort I've put in because I care about her, but a little bit of compassion from her would have been nice. Instead I find I'm still not acceptable, and I feel very much on my own and thinking I may as well keep it all in my head since people like her have the empathy of a disinterested pebble quite often. It was hard for about four or five days when I first gave up, but that was mostly boredom kicking in and I got over it and did a month sober absolutely no problem, in fact it was a really good way to get through God-awful January and I might try to recruit someone to try it too next year. So yeah, I did that no problem, and have been sensible in the past week and either gone home early or really slowed my drinking when I can feel it. I know I've said I don't have an off switch but I'm not a fucking junkie and I can stop when I want to. So it seems like I was right in what I said a few weeks ago, that she's inevitably formed a comparison between me not drinking at all and me having a drink, and prefers the former. That original problem with drinking too much has become drinking at all, because she prefers the other. I am now in the situation where even moderate social drinking annoys her. I think the root of the problem is that she doesn't like that part of me that I wrote about earlier, that I become a bit more extrovert in a group situation and pay less attention to her. I thought she'd know that's how I am in a group and indeed how all group situations, by very definition, work, that there are more people so you can't pay as much attention to each one. I haven't had enough time yet to develop my thinking beyond that, but from what I've managed to get out of her that area is the real problem and the other things that have come up are extraneous symptoms that have been distracting from the real point.

I am disappointed. It feels shit to try really hard at something, and think you're doing okay, and then still be told you're not good enough. I can't help feeling a bit down about that. I sit questioning myself and what I'm like after I've had a beer, and I know I change - that's the very nature of it! But it changes everyone, so I guess the question is what I'm doing or being that she doesn't like. I am a bit angry too, I must admit. I've known from the start she's not the most tolerant person around and her character is pretty aggressive sometimes, but that's part of the deal in being with her and it doesn't usually bother me much at all. I used to get annoyed at her ranting about work straight after work, but then I realised I'm lucky enough to be able to forget about it straight away whereas she needs to vent it, and I shouldn't stop her doing that. Part of me thinks that she is being intolerant of me and wanting me to change rather than accepting things about me, but there's also the other (dominant) part of my nature that presumes I am in the wrong and tells me I must change to accommodate her. I did it a lot with my last girlfriend, bended and gave in on a lot of things so that we fit together, but in the end of course you can only change so many things in your nature before it makes you serially unhappy with what you're trying to be. I hoped the sober month showed that not drinking wasn't a big deal to me, and the odd bit of social drinking would be fine since it's something I enjoy like most people do, but if even that's a problem... I don't know. I'm not going to bother even telling myself I might lose patience trying to accommodate her because I know I'll assume blame here and set about fixing things, but it does spark a series of thoughts about what my path to inner contentment is and whether my desire for peace and love (maaaan) is inadvertently causing me distress.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A sober month completed

I haven't added anything new for a while because the past couple of weeks blurred together. The impulse to do something at the weekend wasn't there and I was quite content passing the time doing odds and sods, bits of nothing really - I watched a lot of TV, not much else.

I did a month without drinking and had a few drinks at the weekend. I'd been out on Friday for a birthday, but found it really boring by the end. I'd never really thought of it that way before, but I couldn't imagine going round to a mate's house and sitting talking for four hours solid, but that's kind of what I was doing by going to pubs sober. I'm still not the biggest fan of going out and not drinking, although I know it's not that bad really, so in future I think I will be happier just not going out if I am not drinking. I don't enjoy the company of drunks and feel bad for making people awkward and self-conscious by having a sober person sat there with their brains fully switched on while they begin to relax and get silly. I don't like putting people in that situation by my presence, so I'll probably just stay at home more often than not.

I had a few pints of bitter and felt fine - no "going to my head" episodes! I was paying attention to the speed I drank and managed to control things okay. It was a pleasant night and although I went out again on Sunday I was tired and didn't have many. Yesterday was an interesting one. I was curious to compare how I would feel then as opposed to the past month. And I could feel the crooked fingers of gloom trying to paw at me. It is a combination of the depressant effect of alcohol with having to be up too early to go to work, meaning the first part of the day is spent fighting against its effects. I take two things from this - firstly that I am at that age now where my body doesn't recover as quickly as it once did, and that drinking more than a couple of nights in a row is probably the point when I begin to get a bit boo-hoo afterwards. It certainly didn't use to depress me quite so much but that doesn't change the fact that it does now, so to keep that at bay I'll have to give my body all the time it needs to handle things properly.

I think I'll pass this on to my girlfriend now. She's been good for the past month, and any time I've got defensive I've realised after a moment that it was just me being silly. I hope the past month showed her that I take what she says seriously and that I'm not a slave or addict to anything; the thought of that repulses me so I can understand why she wouldn't want it that way either. We come from different backgrounds and trying to adapt to her ways is really difficult sometimes, this being just one of them, so my hope is that the changes I'm making help us meet somewhere in the middle. As I said right at the start, conflict goes against everything in my nature which is probably why I've gone on this masochistic journey in the first place, but to people like me, well, it's better to take the hits yourself if it keeps the peace. The next step is to work on keeping things moderate. Everyone knows that silly voice in your head that says "just another one", and everyone gives in to it sometimes, but it seems to piss her off so much if I slip that we stop liking each other. I know where she's coming from since I don't like her much either when she's had one too many but I've never known it be such a problem to someone before. So, well, the great experiment I started a month ago continues and I keep on trying to re-program myself to be a better man.