These days I don’t do conventional socialising very well. And yet I still force myself into the space that looks at me with suspicion when I say I don’t drink alcohol anymore. The drinkers, the normal people, say it doesn’t matter that there is a sober one amongst them, and in truth, it probably doesn’t matter to them.
The issues that arise are entirely in my own head. My life problems, that crept in by stealth from my lack of control over alcohol consumption, still fucking haunt me. I can’t shake them. I crave a new normal that focuses on what I have achieved, rather than constantly finding routes back to what I have lost. And in some areas I have achieved that, I have a job I enjoy and was recently promoted and I have great relationships with my three wonderful daughters. But I keep friends at arms length, virtually all of the time.
I am beginning to think that this is down to a fear that if I go back to the old normal with my friends that I will go back to the old normal with my drinking as well. And that festering open wound just won’t heal.
All of my old friendships were forged around a heavy drinking culture. I do not have any friends left from my pre-drinking days, i.e. when I was under 18. Sure I’ve made some new friends at work, but the socialising with them is always cut short by me. I leave when the drink really starts to flow. Lack of trust in myself usually makes my mind up. I reach that point where I say to myself – to continue here I need to join them; lighten up; have a drink. And I have contemplated that on a few occasions, none more so than last Christmas. But I know only too well that the first drink will lead to a lake full and I’ll start the drift back into reckless abandon. So thankfully I always leave.
I went on a date recently. It was a daytime thing, and it was pleasant but there was no attraction spark, so that relationship will probably go no further than it has. A good female friend of mine suggested that if I arrange a proper nighttime date with someone that could give a better chance of a spark of desire. Presumably she meant that it would be a more relaxing atmosphere rather than somebody would have to be blind drunk to find me attractive. So I took her advice and arranged another date (with somebody else).
We went for dinner. And probably at the most inopportune moment, I felt obliged to share the reasons why I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore. I had driven there so that should have been enough of an explanation on a first date. However I couldn’t just leave it at that. I think subconsciously I wanted to show that I was normal once, but it probably had the effect of highlighting that I am in fact quite odd. Maybe I’m over thinking (again) but it strikes me that the thought that must have gone through the mind of my date is, if he can’t trust himself how could I ever trust him? We parted with a promise of arranging another date, so I’ll just have to see if I’ve aroused enough curiosity for her to want that, or whether my second-guessing of her thoughts was in fact correct. We shall see.
So this morning I put on a Spotify recommended album, Working’ by the Miles Davis Quintet. It was released in 1959, before I was even twitch in my father’s scrotum. However, it was perfect for the moment. It allowed my mind to wander away from self-reflection into a creative space. I mixed some pictures from flowers and seed head photos I had taken (they’re below), wrote these words and am now contemplating how to fill the empty space in my Saturday before the football kicks off at 5.30pm.