Today I hate everything and I’m desperate for escape. The work situation of a few days back has blown back up again, and is dragging to the surface a whole bunch of issues from a few years ago – not that they were buried, but they’re right at the forefront of my brain at the moment, and they basically boil down to Being A Big Fat Failure At Life.
I’m headachey. I got nauseated on the bus this morning for absolutely no discernable reason except to remind myself that being nauseated in the mornings is thoroughly unpleasant. I’m liable to burst into tears at any second and hormones aren’t to blame. I’m stuck in a job I hate and I don’t have enough money and I don’t know how to find something better and also I’m pretty convinced that if I tried to get something better I’d be turned down and if I wasn’t turned down I’d be awful at it and get fired. So that’s obviously a fun set of beliefs to be dragging around.
I’m eating the way I drank, and obsessing about it the same way. Every afternoon on my way home I think do I have any snacks in? Should I stop? And then feel relief when I remember the bag of nuts hidden at the back of the cupboard. YES, REALLY. Because obviously drinking was giving me something that I’m trying to replicate as closely as possible, which is – I think – creating a bubble of escapist isolation. I don’t want to go out and run, or craft, or write, I want to forget myself.
My favourite way to drink was this: cask of wine, so I didn’t have to think about the level or count glasses, and a good book, and solitude. And I’d just read and drink and read and refill and read and drink. And the world would be reduced to that, and that was exactly what I craved. Not excitement, not glamour, not socialising. Just me and my story and my drink, the latter turning off the ‘me’ part so that I could become fully immersed in the story and nothing else.
Obviously that didn’t always work. When it did, it was far more about the power of the story than the alcohol. I didn’t need wine when I spent entire days lying on my stomach on my bed as a child, travelling with Bilbo Baggins or Mary Lennox. But when I was a child, solitude was an abundant resource. Now it is scarcer than sleep, and I’m driven to creating an illusion of being alone. So I lock myself in the same bubble; book, snacks, couch. And it doesn’t work, and I’m getting fatter and unhappier.
Today I’m just so disappointed in myself. Why can’t I advocate for myself better. Why don’t I have the discipline to go for a run, to apply for a more satisfying job, to take out my patchwork again. Or run a scented bath, or book a massage, or paint my nails or just STOP EATING CRAP AND BEING CRAP.
I didn’t expect my life to become magic when I stopped drinking. I did expect to rediscover hidden depths of motivation and discipline. Turns out, they were never there anyway.
And yes, of course, therefore I’m thinking what difference does it make if I drink again? A Facebook thread between the members of my book group hit me hard yesterday. One friend posted that she was enjoying the book but very tired all the time at the moment. First reply; a photo of a glass of white wine by an open fire; ‘I decided to stop work at lunchtime today and pop a bottle!’. Third friend, who wasn’t drinking at all last time I saw her, and in fact could tell us how many days she’d been sober, so I did wonder whether she was sober-sober or just taking a break after a particularly embarrassing incident back in January; a photo of a glass of red wine. Fourth friend, who I gather from the background has been taking a break from drinking for reasons I don’t know, posted that ‘not drinking is pants, I think I’ll give in tomorrow’ and then posted her own glass of wine an hour later, to choruses of ‘good for you, lasting ten days, enjoy the wine!’. Ouch ouch and ouch. If there’s something worse than watching people drink guilt-free, it’s watching people go back to drinking guilt-free. And obviously it’s just Facebook and who am I to know those women’s stories. But still.
I’m rehearsing the lines I’ll use to the people I told I wasn’t drinking, to sell them on the fact that I am again, but no big deal, you know, it never was forever and there’s no harm in an occasional Friday night glass of red, right? And underneath that is the seething mass of something else: well, you suck anyway. Might as well drink.