The other night I went to a dinner party with my partner. It was a couples dinner party. Just a normal one, not a throw your keys in a bowl type. As per my usual, by the afternoon of the event I was less than enthused to go, and was thinking how nice it would be to remain in bed, reading, eating chocolate, generally embracing my dried date self. However, my partner knows the routine and said to me, ‘you’ll enjoy it once you get there. You do this to everything beforehand, and then afterwards you are always “I had such a lovely time”’. He was right, this is my standard, so though running slightly late, we eventually motored off in the direction of the party, me at the wheel.
A quick side note, since becoming a sober sally I have been learning to drive. At 34 I am finally taking the plunge into the realm of personal automobile transportation. I would say there was other extenuating circumstances why I didn’t drive but definitely one of them was I never wanted to be the designated driver, I always wanted to be the drinker. I remember thinking what a waste of a night it was when people drove. I thought they were boring. I guess I was probably a bit boring to think that.
I had tried to learn to drive when I was seventeen but my driving instructor, a very funny man, though possibly not the most encouraging driving instructor, told me I drove like I was in a bubble and in front of me was rainbows and sunshine, and behind me was fire and mass destruction. For years I thought it was quite funny until one day I told a woman the story and she looked very concerned, and a little like she might cry, and said ‘that’s incredibly sad’. ‘Eh, yeah, I guess so’, I had replied and wondered to myself: is it incredibly sad? Have people been politely laughing with me for years but secretly thinking how sad I am? Regardless, after 17 years I’m finally back at the wheel, giving it another shot so take that lady.
However, I digress. After expertly driving to the dinner party we finally arrived, and were greeted with warmth by our oh so lovely hosts, and I was instantly glad I had managed to get out of my laziness bubble. The hosts offered red wine but didn’t query me when I poured a kombucha into a wine glass. They knew I had quit drinking but didn’t ask, ‘how’s the non-drinking going?’, like some people do, like they think it’s just a phase. Not that it bothers me when people do this but it’s a relief to not have to explain yourself all the time. Or when I know the person I’m talking to is really not interested so I try to cut it off by saying ‘really good thanks’, and then awkward silence hangs in the air for a few moments. This is not a ‘non-drinking’ thing, but a life thing. I don’t want to have pointless polite conversations about something I don’t want to treat like a pointless polite conversation. I’d rather just talk about something else.
The funny thing is, I use to work with a majority of the people in the couples group, and they have seen me pretty loose on numerous occasions, like most nights a free drink was deposited in my hand, which happened frequently at our work place. One of the group was my previous boss, and she has not only seen me comprehensively pie-eyed but also had to put up with my perpetual lateness for years, half the time because I was too hungover to get out of bed. Let’s just say, I certainly wasn’t employee of the month on the reg.
The couples group have been meeting every few months for nearly a year now. When it started I was newly back on the sauce from when I had gone 5 months no booze last year. We hosted the first one. Earlier that week I had paid $120 to my hypnotherapist to de-program me from binge drinking, and less than a week later I was back to my bingy self, hosting a dinner party. The last time I had been on the booze at one of our gatherings I had thrown back coffee flavoured Patron like water at the end of the night, and my partner had to take me home due to my obvious drunkenness, and I don’t even really remember it. I remember snippets but not the whole picture. You might think that not knowing is better, but it isn’t. Blacking out is like leaving a part of your mind somewhere else for the night, and not being able to figure out if it was in a safe or a dark place, and you will never know. It’s scary. By the end of my drinking days this had become more of a common occurrence.
However, there was no black-out drunk this night. Someone had to drive home, and I was excited it was me (look at me not drinking and driving cars world… beep beep!). The truth is, I had more fun that night than any of the couples evenings I had been drinking. At one point I laughed so hard I struggled to breathe. Everyone was in such good spirits and so easy-going that I didn’t even think about my sobriety, which is rare. Some nights, even if I am having a good time, I will be aware that I am not drinking, like I’m just not the same as everyone else. I told my mum the other day how some days I wished I was normal in terms of drinking, and she said, ‘but you’re better than normal’, and I liked that. After the dinner party I pondered why I had felt so at ease, and not like the special guest ‘non-drinker’, and I decided it was because there was no judgement, wherever you are on the scale, from a bit slurry drunk to completely sober, it didn’t matter, and it didn’t have to become a topic of discussion. It just was.
As I drove off (with a slight stall in neutral instead of drive. No judgement) I thought to myself, I would definitely rate the night as better than normal.
For the beginning of the Ex-Boozer Chronicles click here
For all Ex-Boozer Chronicles click here