Monday, February 05, 2007

Getting old and staying on the wagon

It's my dear friend Theo's birthday today - Happy Birthday Theo! That's a photo of the two of us in our third year of university (circa 1995) at a wine tasting society dinner. Theo was very drunk, I was very drunk and very fat. The two things did and still go hand in hand for me.

We exchanged emails and reflected on how quickly the last 10 years have gone - and when you start talking like that, it's evidence in and of itself that you’re getting old.

I remember being about 13 and my friends were all on holiday, and I was stuck at home on a Saturday night. I was out of my mind with boredom and anxiety - sure I was missing out on something, somewhere. My father looked at me sympathetically and said, "I remember how lousy it felt when I was stuck at home on a Saturday night at your age." I hoped he might offer to take me to a movie, but instead he happily sloped off to enjoy something on TV.

Nowadays Robert and I get excited when we have a free Saturday night in our diary. Usually I put the pizza in the oven, and he lines up a recorded episode of ‘Prison Break’. You’ve never seen two happier, more thrilled people. Sad I know.

The other thing I've noticed is that I've started sounding like my parents. “Oh I don't like that place, it's so loud you can't hear yourself think!” or “I don't know how some people do it, come 11pm and I want my bed.” I no longer buy wine that comes in litre bottles, and when choosing a restaurant, the effect on my digestive system is a serious consideration.

Yesterday I tried explaining to Robert's sisters and their partners why I wasn't drinking, and how I worry about such things as binge drinking. There's also the aforementioned historic relationship my body has between alcohol consumption and ability to do up buttons on my jeans, which I stupidly forgot to mention. They looked at me as though I were quite mad and informed me that I had it all wrong - considering not binge drinking, now that was something to be worried about.

My family just aren't big drinkers - they can take it or leave it, and my mother and most of her family are teetotal. In my case however, when I'm in certain social contexts, after two glasses of something I just want more, and then I smoke and smoke and smoke, then it's morning and I'm awake after 3 hours of sleep feeling anxious, sick, and hating myself. After the 368th time of this happening, you eventually wise up to the fact that maybe, just maybe, it's time to change your behavior somewhere along the line.

Being reluctant to give up my partying ways, I tried changing the way I felt about myself the next morning, i.e. the self loathing part, but have failed miserably. I'm remarkably good at self loathing, and giving up alcohol just seems a lot easier and less painful.

I lapsed on Friday night, when, after a severe bout of PMS Robert handed me a glass of champagne and said, "I realise you aren't drinking right now, but if we are going to get through this evening (with me not killing him or breaking the stereo system - which he didn't mention but I knew he was thinking), you'd better have this - even if it's just the one." Three of those and two glasses of wine later, plus about 5 cigarettes, and there I was sitting in bed the next morning berating myself for being such an idiot, and throwing in a few things I hadn't done but might have done, just to make myself feel extra bad.

I’ve learnt that one thing leads to another with me, so it's best to avoid the catalyst – which in this case means booze.

I was told, again by a Smithson sibling, that not drinking at my birthday party would be considered rude to my guests. I’m not sure how valid this is, considering I have friends who are recovering alcoholics and never think of them as being rude when they don’t drink in my company. But I suppose as a non card carrying non member of AA, I may not be able to garner any sympathy from my friends, and I’ll be expected to join in the festivities. Robert reckons there are some great low alcoholic beers out there meaning you can enjoy one or 6 throughout the evening and not get quite so drunk or sick from it the next day. I’ll report back after the fact with my findings.


Ugly Pig said...

Haai Siestog biellie - just say NO ! or not, whatever, life is too short. I read an article recently that advocated mothers having a drink a day (usually in the evenings :) ) saying that it actually made them better mothers because they were able to relax ... makes you think ?

letters from london said...

It's not the ocassional glass of wine I have a problem with. It's just that in some contexts, I overdo it, and I want to avoid drinking in those contexts. I hate being hungover - my body feels toxic, and I land up wasting a day by feeling tired and sick. And it's all self-inflicted which just seems stupid really. Also, it's fattening. Aghghghg - you can't win can you?!? ;-)

Anonymous said...

You don't have to drink to be fun, interesting, engaging, whatever. People who think they do are making a sad admission about their personalities or lack thereof.

You've written before that you can go out and have just as much fun without drinking, and if it works for you, then go for it. Don't be swayed by what other people say.