The funny thing about quitting booze is that you simultaneously don’t feel like going out all the time but you also don’t want to be left out. The other night I was sitting on the bed whilst my partner was getting dressed to head out for the evening. ‘Now that you are leaving I feel like coming with you’, I said as I looked on appreciatively at his long legs as he tugged on his beige dress pants. ‘Well you still can’ he replied in the rational way that balances my lack of it. ‘Nah, I’d have to get changed and I’m still not feeling well’, I dismissed it. However as he yelled out goodbye and I heard the door click shut a feeling of FOMO clutched at my chest.
I have never really experienced this before, as well, for years I have been a yes person, even when I wanted to be a no. I constantly agree to things then complain about them right up until the point of attendance. Often I come home espousing what a great time I had, and wondering why I had been so negative about it but there were still times when I wished I had stayed at home with a pizza. As my age continues to hike up the ‘fine wine o-meter’ I’ve gradually become more of a ROMO kind of person: relief of missing out.
Romo is that feeling when you’ve packed too much in and then you decide to fuck off one of your activities, and just chill at home for the evening. Or when you’ve made early morning yoga plans and you wake up to a text from your friend cancelling, and you mentally high-five yourself and go back to sleep. When I was drinking I would often booze to see myself through the outing I didn’t want to attend, internally saying to myself, ‘what this situation needs for me to engage is more alcohol’. I’d try to imagine myself like some sort of Madmen-style character, working the room with a martini, when really I was more like Dory: just keep swimming.
However before I knew it, I would be floating with warm fuzzy feelings for everything because when the booze beast is in town feelings of indifference or even flagrant disregard for situations slip away as the alcohol consumption rises. A perfect example of this was the weekend of my work Christmas party a year and a half ago. I had been out drinking on the Friday night with my booze hag cohorts until 5am. I’d gone to sleep at 6am Saturday morning, and woken up at 4 in the afternoon to get ready for the party that night. I really didn’t want to go. I felt like a jellyfish left in the sun all day, pungent and melting. Nebulous. I also had to go down the coast the following morning to go parasailing for a dare as part of a series my friend and I were filming. I remember laboriously getting dressed and thinking to myself: ‘I won’t drink tonight, I’ll make an appearance, and then disappear. I have to be up early tomorrow. Gosh I’d love some pizza right now’.
I arrived at the party, hosted in a Chinese karaoke restaurant, and in the middle of the table were several bottles of wine. My boss snapped one out of the silver wine bucket, ‘wine?’, she tilted her head questioningly. ‘Oh go on!’ I replied without even really thinking about it, because in my head the only way I could survive the evening was to drink. However, I didn’t just leave it at drinks with dinner. When the restaurant closed I was already walking with the work mates who were kicking on at a bar down the street. Eventually we headed to another bar that necessitated a cab ride. We even passed my apartment as we drove along, and I did have a moment when I thought that I should really just get out of the car. Go home. Go to bed. I had parasailing tomorrow. However, then I remembered if I stayed in the vehicle there would be more booze, and the allure was too strong. It wasn’t until 3am that I finally managed to make it home. Let’s just say parasailing was the last thing on my mind Sunday morning but I soldiered on.
Now that I am sober I have my limits, like there’s only so much socializing I can do before the desire for a book in bed gets too strong, and I suddenly need to be at home in my own little world. A few months into my sobriety I had this revelation on a Saturday I had jam packed with activities. In the morning I went to yoga and breakfast with a friend. This was a great start to the day, and made me feel really good. Afterwards, my friend dropped me off at a cafe to meet another friend for refreshments followed by a talk at the art gallery on genetic engineering. This was also enjoyable, as well as very interesting. However as I sat on the bus on the way home I felt like my socialising quota had been reached for the day. I’d gone out, been entertained, felt the warmth of beautiful friends, and shared laughter. I’d worked my mind, body and my taste buds. There was no need to venture outside the house again. Only problem was I had a party to attend that evening.
I considered cancelling but I had not shown up to this friend’s last party, and I felt obliged. When I got home my partner had to listen to me whine about not wanting to go, like a child listing why they shouldn’t have to go to school. However, I made it to the party, in costume and all, yet I couldn’t turn my mood around. Without alcohol to assist me to get into the spirit of the evening I felt like I was just going through the movements, but not engaging. I knew I was being boring. I imagined myself floating above the party looking at my shell of a body on autopilot playing the movie extra role of ‘party attendee 4’, and I yawned as I watched my typecast self. It was like I had used up all my charm and humour earlier in the day, and was now running on an empty tank. I gave it a good go though. I mingled as much as I could handle, little mineral water bottle in hand, and then at 11.30 I decided enough effort had been made and I vamoosed.
I couldn’t really see the point in my attendance as I felt like I had simply made up numbers. I know sometimes you just have to show up regardless of how you feel but without the alcohol to booster any situation I am more attuned to what I need and want, so on occasion I am just going to have to say no, plan my days so I don’t pack too much in and get ROMO. The alcohol made me into a more social person than I am in my core, and now without alcohol to perpetuate this image, it feels like I am finally coming home to me.
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