Navigating Nights Out – Part 1

Good evening!  I’m going to have to start writing at a more respectable hour of the day as I’m tired and know that I should be preparing for bed, but what the hell.  Why not?  And by the time I’ve finished, I’m sure I’ll be wide awake again!

I’ve called this ‘Part 1’ because I get a feeling there may be more to report on in the future!

I went out last Saturday to try a new place in town that has been taken over by a couple of creative people who will be using the space to show artwork, hold events of different natures, promote creative iniatives etc.  On this particular night they were hosting Guerilla Eats – an array of different street food sellers who would be able to sell from there for around two weeks.

We all met at a different bar and when I got there a few had already turned up and as it happened my friend and two others had been drinking since 1pm and even been home for a nap in the meantime!  Once everyone had arrived we had a drink (cranberry for me) and made our way to The Wonder Inn for some of the marvellous food on offer.  I had a double beef burger with cheese, which might not sound exciting, but it was awesome and perhaps one of the best burgers I have EVER had.  To wash it down I had a San Pellegrino lemonade.  There wasn’t much of a bar going on here and for the ‘drinkers’ there were a few speciality beers and ales, so I was surprised they even had San Pellegrino as a soft option! (They are nice, too nice, but full of sugar.) Two drinks later, the general consensus was to move to another bar – fair enough.

Now, I had been thinking about this night out for a while.  I have been out since becoming sober, to a number of things in actual fact, and haven’t overthought the issues of everyone else having a drink.  For some reason this night was different.  Perhaps it was because it was a Saturday night? I don’t know, perhaps I had a sixth sense that it would be different, you know? A bit more ‘full on’.

Anyway,  having thought about it for so long and knowing that there was nothing different about my mindset – I knew things would be fine.  Strange, but fine.

So, here I am in the middle of ‘The Alchemist’ in the Northern Quarter of Manchester on a Saturday night.  Everyone is drunk.  Everyone.  With each round of drinks – bourbon cocktail, gin cocktail, bottles of beer, pints of lager – I have a mocktail.  And as the first one is passed over the bar, all of my friends slur, ‘Woooooow, that looks amaaaaaaaaazing’.  Too pineapple-y, actually, but thanks! (They lost interest by the time I got to my favourite – an apple mojito!)  Half an hour in and a friend of a friend, and the bar manager, decided to get a round of tequila shots.  He puts one in front of everyone including me and as my hand was half-raised to say, thanks but I don’t drink, my friend launched herself at me and locked me within her arms and shouted ‘Nooooooo – she can’t! I’ll protect yooooou…..’

I was in stitches and the shot was given to a deserving member of bar staff.  A lot of the group were giving me funny so I said that yes, not drinking includes not drinking tequila shots!  I get the feeling that they felt sorry for me, like I was really losing out. I much preferred sambuca shots to be honest – never was much of a fan of tequila 🙂

Prior to this display of love and ‘protection’ by my friend Hannah, I was asked by one of the guys why wasn’t I drinking.  I haven’t really been asked this so directly before and I said I gave up just before New Year’s Eve and have been sober since then.  To which he replied, ‘But when are you going to start drinking again?’

‘Well, I haven’t thought about starting again.  All being well, I won’t.  I feel a lot better and can survive without it.’

‘But wouldn’t you rather have a drink now? We’re all drinking…’

‘Oh my goodness, even if I chose to tonight, I can’t.  I’m on medication.’

‘When do you take your medication?’

‘Huh?’

‘What time of day?’

‘Err, in the morning.’

‘Well, you should be alright now then?’

‘No, it’s medication to deter me from drinking.  I take it every day.  I can’t have a drink because if I had alcohol now I would be very ill – vomitting, pounding headache, racing heart rate…I would probably have to go to hospital.’

‘Can you sick it up?  Not take one in the morning? It would be worth it, wouldn’t it?  You could drink more to numb the pain?’

OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!! Who is the fucking alcoholic here?  I’ve probably explained LESS to Hannah who wanted to ‘protect me’ from tequila shots (bless her) than I have to this dickhead who now knows I am taking medication for alcoholism and he is trying to tempt me to have a drink.  Fucking idiot.  Fucking ignorant, uneducated, dumbass fucking twat.  And he’s a teacher!  FUCK ME!!!!!

I was talking to the bar manager at one point a bit later and we were laughing about the shot incident where Hannah and I nearly ended up falling on the floor, legs akimbo.  As I was bemoaning the downside of mocktails being too sweet a lot of the time, I said, ‘I expect I am your least favourite type of customer, not drinking alcohol and moaning about the non-alcoholic drinks!!’  He looked completely affronted and said that the most important thing to him is making the customers happy and if they want a drink without alcohol, then the job of the bar staff is to make me a drink without alcohol.  And if I find that too sweet, tell them and the next one will be tweaked to make it better for me!  He was a charming, lovely man (also drunk as he was off-duty) and made me feel quite special amongst the mayhem of merry punters.

So, the night carried on.  I danced my little socks off, declined a dance with the arsehole teacher which made me feel better (!) and I didn’t get home until 3.30am!  Dirty stop out.

I suppose that there are always going to be people that can’t accept that some people choose not to drink, whether they know the reason for that choice or not.  And there will always be those people that just accept a person’s decision without question.  And we sober superstars must accept that.  I have no desire to talk to an idiot, arsehole, thoughtless dickhead, let alone try to change them and the way they think.  I really do think that some people are truly, truly dumb.  Others are jealous and may try to force you into having a drink because they can’t do it and don’t want to see you succeed.

Don’t give your time and energy to people who don’t want you to succeed, please.  Don’t ever feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone about the reasons you choose not to drink alcohol.  If someone asks a legitimate question, sure, answer it.  They might be asking because they want to do the same and want your opinion.  They might genuinely care and want to understand so that they can offer you support.  Hannah nearly crushed me with her arms and almost knocked me off my chair because she cares and didn’t want me to be subjected to the temptation.  Given, it wasn’t exactly discrete, but no-one else said a word after that! (And neither of us ever really ‘do’ discrete anyway.)

Nights out – they are a minefield for us for all sorts of reasons – but I can’t wait for the next one!

I’m off to make a hot milk as I’m not so sleepy anymore 😉

Toodle-oo for now xx

Smorgasbord

by Ruthoz

‘Causes’

• The disease model ¬- characterised by helplessness, the disease is chronic (always present and incurable)
• The psycho/social model – characterised by poor choice making, personality issues, lack of self-discipline in challenging situations
• Genetics – some of us are born predisposed to addictions (but don’t necessarily develop them)
• Environment – our family, friends and workplace influence our behaviours

‘Treatments’

• Counselling
• Group support (of which AA is the best known; based upon and an advocate for the disease model)
• Medication
• Hypnotherapy
• Books, diets, retreat programs, other commercial ‘cures’

My history

I first became sober in 1991 after 18 years of abusive drinking, and remained so for five years. For the first six months, I went to AA daily, including an intensive three-week rehab. I still didn’t get it though, and eventually irritation with the ‘power greater than myself’ issue drove me away. Apart from that, they all smoked non-stop and the coffee was vile. (Despite the fact AA has detrimental effects on some, there are ideas I have taken from there into my own sobriety).

However, life was a very definite ‘then and now’, and as such, my new life just took off. I started my master’s degree, reacquainted myself with chocolate bars and found a strong personality (oops!). The now was to be preserved and pursued at all cost. And cost it did, as I lost my partner to someone needier. The new me wasn’t as acceptable! Full of optimism I battled on and eventually settled down again. This time the man in my life didn’t understand the alcoholic person I will always be. And the alcoholic person jumped at his argument – hey, maybe I am cured, and can in fact have just one drink! Within a few months I was back to drinking again – heavily, secretly, disastrously. Sigh, AA got that right. Read and learn my friends, that was to last for another 15 years.

My current sobriety began on November 13th 2013. It was a day like many before it, that of being too sick to lift a glass, let alone drink from it, feeling all the self-revulsion, remorse and the feeling – here we go again … I made many attempts to stop drinking again and desperately wanted my old life back. This time I found on-line support, and made friends with people in similar circumstances. I was able to experience the understanding of the AA meeting attendees without the philosophy and dogma. Now I can speak with my new friends daily, and at all hours, as some are on the opposite side of the world. I have travelled and met with them. It’s my own little community and we are supporting each other and ourselves.

My plate
Group support has been vital for me. I need to be reminded daily that I have issues with alcohol and cannot touch it. The disease model works for me. Trying to control my drinking was a miserable pastime dogged by fear of failure and a desire for more. It dominated my life whatever the quantity, and simply is not worth the risks involved. I am comfortable accepting that I am a person for whom alcohol is not possible at all. There is far too much to lose anyway. The label does not bother me. It’s a good shorthand. The politically correct version would be ‘I am a person with alcoholism’. Too wordy. In a social situation I usually say, ‘No thanks. I have problems with it.’ And leave it at that.

I have tried medication. But if you believe what AA tell us about the cunningness of alcoholism you can work out for yourself what happens with medication. Either it isn’t taken, or one simply drinks more and faster to break through the effect. I have used Naltrexone when I have felt vulnerable – with mixed results. For me it’s nothing or all, and I don’t want all again, ever.

As for counselling, I find that a bit too trite and convenient. My life has no deep dark secrets. I am no more nor less confident in social settings than anyone else. My childhood was happy. I can do all their tests and answer all their questions, they are pretty obvious. No light bulb moments there.

I haven’t read books about fixing alcoholism in three weeks, though there are plenty of those around. There are plenty of diets too. Let’s just say I am a cynic, and if the research hasn’t been done, I am not spending big bucks on something to make someone else richer. Making money from our misfortune is, I think, immoral anyway.

So my advice is to pile your plate up with as many samples as you fancy. Try a bit of everything. Don’t be afraid to try something new and unfamiliar. Find out what approach, or combination of approaches, works for you. And stick with it.
22.02.2015

Ruthoz