Monday, 30 May 2016

Dear Alcohol

Dear Alcohol,

We need to have a talk. You're one of those things in life that I feel was wrongly left out of my education. I mean, I'm not saying that my knowledge of photosynthesis, trigonometry and parts of a volcano are not all incredibly useful but I could really have done with a lesson on drinking: How? What? When? Why did I have that fourth glass of vodka coke when I was clearly already pretty drunk? So many questions and ones that neither my geography, biology or psychology classes ever taught me.

I was never a party animal. It never really interested me and it still doesn't. I'd rather keep my senses and memory of the night in tact thank you very much. That's why I never really got into the party scene. I didn't understand the excitement that seemed to revolve around getting so drunk you can no longer remember how your legs work or where you are. Choosing something to do for my 21st is going to be a nightmare! A tea party maybe? Movie Marathon? A good nights sleep? That was a joke...I swear...

Mum persuaded Felix to invite me to his parties, to broaden my social circles and to go wild a bit more. Starting with the blue beauty of WKD, I was then introduced to vodka and the many things you can mix with it to mask the fact that the drink itself is the most vile thing to pass your lips. Friends would hand me a glass of something orange, or a glass that resembled coke but with a slight kick to its fizz. I'd empty that but somehow it would fill in my hands. The party would go on and I would lose more and more of myself. Confidence up. Sense of personal boundaries, how close is too close, down. Attempts at flirting up. Embarrassment at my behavior non-existent.

About mid-way through a 6th form party...fancy dress...obviously
Years of the occasional partying later and WKD's are no longer there and I'm bringing my own Smirnoff to the party. An occasional fruity cider and wine if it's the only choice. The thing is, and I saw something on Facebook the other day that worded this exactly how I feel, but sometimes I think I've been left out of some big inside joke where everyone else knows how disgusting basically all alcoholic beverages are, but they're not telling me. They just stand there and laugh inwardly as I take another disgusting sip from my wine glass or my tumbler of less enjoyable coca cola and see the grimace as the liquid goes down. They wonder what is making me continue drinking it when it clearly all tastes so completely and utterly...yuck.

It's the confidence. When it comes to a party of people I either vaguely know or don't know at all, I'm going to clam shut unless something else takes over and encourages me to talk. That thing is you, alcohol. I'm a socially awkward drinker. Someone who drinks to break her own ice and allow participation in conversation to begin. Who allows a drink to become her excuse to tell ridiculously embarrassing stories and to go up to that guy across the room and tell him he's got pretty eyes because 'it's ok, I'm drunk, he realizes that, he knows I'm not weird or crazy, and anyway, it's a compliment.'...

...Ellie and I went for a summer/winter you can see
So it goes on. Party starts. Drinks flow. Shy Ellie exits. May I introduce.......ELLIE!

This version of myself appeared only a couple of days ago when, what started with an attempt at football, some fruity ciders and chocolate cake slowly slid into topping myself up, on a pretty empty stomach, with my go to friend: vodka lemonade. Drinking each glass far too quickly, not enjoying the flavour but encouraged by the way in which I was slowly gaining confidence. My voice was becoming louder and laughter was bubbling out. Glass empty? No problem, I bought a whole bottle to myself. A top up. Another. And another. Ok, last one....

A lovely dinner...before the alcohol set it...
Confusion. What's this?...A loo, someone talking sweetly and understandably in my ear. Me incomprehensibly apologizing for being an embarrassment and trying to get reassurance that, no one, particularly the host of the party, was judging me for my current state. Exclamations that I plan never to drink again. I don't even like alcohol. More back rubbing, hair holding, water giving and a slow movement up and out towards a lovely comfy bed. Shoes removed, I lie down.

Amy...the definition of elegance and style
Morning. Opening my eyes and the sun is up. The room is flooded with light and I am very, very confused. I turn and find Edd asleep next to me, my shoes on the floor, party outfit still on. Then the night comes flooding back. That moment was the worst. The part where I went from vaguely baffled to suddenly remembering exactly what happened to bring me to this point. The point where the embarrassment kicks in. Something that was encouraged away (as much as physically possible) by Edd reassuring me that 'it happens to everyone', 'it's funny' and 'you didn't ruin my 22nd birthday if that's what you think'. Ignoring the fact he then went on to tease me about it at every opportunity, the weird things I said and the passion with which I declared my hatred for drink, for the entire morning, his reassurances did help. He even helped with his own description of the time he got 'socially awkward drunk' at a party. In his tale, it was the kitchen that had to suffer. At least I had better aim.

Saturday was spent recovering. After throwing up twice before leaving, a lot of staying as horizontal as possible in bed, and eventually finding some food, I managed to feel stable enough to go to another gathering that evening. An evening where no alcohol was touched, let alone consumed and I managed to keep the contents of my stomach in tact.

Me and Daniella...At a point in the evening I still remember
What did I learn? I hear you ask. That I'm very impatient. That I can't stand the idea of feeling awkward and quiet in a room full of people and I will do whatever it takes to avoid that. That I am very aware of how confident alcohol makes me and that I do not have the patience to drink slowly and wait for it to take effect. So I just gulp it down until it all hits a wrecking ball. I learnt that when I feel drunk, I should probably stop drinking and the effect won't rapidly wear off just because I'm not keeping my body topped up. Most importantly though, I learnt, that even when I'm being a complete embarrassment, I am very good at getting my timing right. I managed to wait until my brother had gone home and the party was dispersing. I waited until I was left with a handful of friends who looked after me. Who reassured me, held my hair, fed me water and put me to bed and one whom, despite my behaviour, still spent the first 5 or so hours of his birthday with me.

I learnt that I never want to throw up because of alcohol again. That shall be the first (Dammit...ignoring that one night during freshers...) and last time. I won't let you take control of me as much as you did, to wipe my sanity away or make me throw up in Edd's bathroom sink and hopefully, oh so tipsily, I'll feel just that little bit less terrible the morning after.

And the fancy dress comes out because why be me, when I can be a viking?
I'm sorry alcohol, but you've had your fun. I like you and all, and I think we should be friends but there's only so much of you I can take. I hope you understand.

Best wishes,

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