My last post was spent outlining the vaguest, most hopeless of plans for alcohol reduction; abstain for two days a week and generally cut down. I know that is not going to win any awards for most innovative, ground breaking new method to deal with alcohol dependency but hey, it was my plan and it’s a start! The trouble was that at the end of my first week of this staggeringly complex plan, I had been invited to attend a massive gin festival in London.
Now gin is a favourite tipple of mine so I thought a couple of tastings, keep it under control and then leave at 3 (the official end time for the afternoon shift at the festival) would mean I could enjoy the experience and not get too pissed. Trouble was, as we entered the lovely venue at Tobacco Dock, my friend informed me that all the gins (over 100) were free samples with no limit on how many you could try. Simultaneously I was elated and thrown into panic, “Oh great, 100 gins, and all free, oh God I’m going to get wasted!” Well I did try quite a few and it was fascinating talking to the distillers and makers of this now outrageously fashionable drink. I was in my element; great drink, convivial atmosphere, interesting discussions, lovely people, laughter. All the ingredients for the type of day that makes me feel good that I drink alcohol. Ah, but then comes the other side. We leave at three. The rest of the party have enjoyed themselves but now fancy a cup of tea. Tea? Tea! No way. I am on a roll, stuff the tea I fancy more booze, let’s keep the fun going. Luckily one friend agrees to stop at a pub before going back to join the others. A couple of pints in a pub; I feel home, I feel comfortable, this is where I am happy.
By the time we get home I am feeling the beginnings of the come down. I have drunk too much. I might fall asleep but its only 6 and we have a meal coming up. I decline a gin and tonic and sip a medium strength beer. I’m doing Ok but I feel a bit wasted. A little voice from far away inside does remind me that this was supposed to be my first week of cutting down. I tell the little voice to stop being so miserable. We sit down to dinner and the wine flows. Half the party are basically sober and I do not want to become the drunken bore so I consciously pace myself on the wine. Luckily my friend has drunk more than me so he takes the role of “funny drunk.” Later I join him. Feeling almost sober again after only two or three glasses of wine in three hours I switch back to the gin and the evening ends in fun, laughter and jokes. I go to bed concluding that the day has been a success.
Why is there always a next day (well of course one day there won’t be but today there was). No headache but feeling still sozzled, tired, queasy stomach, all the indications of a 20+units day. That means no driving but it will mean a day of eating fatty food, sugary drinks and achieving nothing. Today is the day after the day after and I am still not right; poor sleep, feeling anxious and feeling a bit disappointed in myself. In a way, Saturday encapsulates everything about my relationship with alcohol. Enjoyment, excess, self harm and regret.
But let’s be positive, I did have two days last week where I had no alcohol and the gin festival was quite an exception. I know that the things that separate me from the other people with whom I attended the festival are:
- I wanted to carry on drinking after the festival finished whereas they had done the gin festival and wanted a break from alcohol
- I spent the day thinking about alcohol, they talked about and did other things
- They woke up feeling fine ready for the day on Sunday and I could do nothing but try to cope with a hangover
I now have just over two weeks before my next big challenge which is attending a concert with friends. There will be the usual, meet in a pub, go for a meal and then go to the concert. Probably this would normally involve 5 or 6 pints and a bottle of wine. I have two weeks in which I will carry on recording my alcohol intake, try to drink less at home and come up with a specific plan or strategy for the forthcoming concert.
One interesting observation. Prior to writing this post I did my usual avoidance routine. Find things to do to avoid writing my blog. When I have to do certain things such as writing I become anxious. I look at the anxiety, where does it come from? I comes from fear. Fear that what I do will not be any good, fear that I don’t measure up to others, fear that I will prove to be a disappointment. I have lived with such fears for a long time. They hold me back.
It leaves me pondering how as a teenager the fear of being rejected by girls fuelled the anxiety in social situations that first led me to drink. There is a bigger concern; has most of my pattern of drinking been framed by fear? Is it time at long last to confront those fears and anxieties instead of hiding from them behind a bottle? Much to ponder. Thanks for reading.