The other day, I found myself sat on the floor of my workplace office. Cross-legged, arms folded, a defiant ‘and what’ smirked across my face. No, this wasn’t a new interpretation of an office plan, where we were all encouraged to do the same, to promote an informality, a creativity or even a sense of mindfulness. It also wasn’t ‘bring a child to work’ day. I was sat on the floor of the office, because I could. Excuse me, one bucket full of attention please, yes – to have in, thanks, I’ll just be sat over here.
Approaching my five months-sober mark, I have found myself becoming increasingly restless. It is not about getting attention, but this is how it often manifests itself. I am restless for change, for excitement, progression – to achieve everything I want for my future, and everything I missed in my past. All at once please, hit me, for now I am sober and not hungover and hiding under the duvet, I have so much to do, and such little time to do it.
I had wanted to prove to myself and the world that I can do everything that I would have wanted to do before whilst drinking destructively, but I can now do it 10 times better, more efficiently, and I can still have fun whilst doing it. All the fun, all the time – now, who wants to come with me to a sober rave at 6am on Wednesday morning? I’ll be wearing hotpants, sunglasses, and my biggest pair of boots, along with my snarkiest gives-a-fuck attitude.
Safe to say, I am exhausted. I feel like a Sunday-brunch frying pan that someone has been taken a brillo-pad, and half a bottle of fairy liquid, to before leaving to dry in the sun – for hours. Sometimes, I feel like I have as much charisma as this pan, spotless yet scratched, as much energy as a drained bath tub.
Frying pans and fires – it is a game of extremes – is anything sounding familiar yet?
I am struggling at the moment, actually. The difficulty isn’t staying sober, but to channel the sobriety to ends that don’t involve me sitting on the floor of my office because I can, toddleresque, or making a flippant remark I know could, and probably will, hurt someone’s feelings because I want to see how they react as a form of human-behaviour research. My emerging God-complex, I can see, is no longer just tiring for me, but for others too. More than that, it can also be destructive.
How about now?
I looked back at the past 2 months – I have achieved a lot, and I have been more socially active then I have for a long time with dinners, nights out, social groups, nights out, coffee catch ups. I look back to a year or two years ago – I achieved a lot, was very socially active with nights out, nights out and nights out, but I just happened to be drinking at this time. Drinking rather a substantial amount, quite often, have I ever mentioned?
“No paramedics in 2015” – I remember this clearly from the new years eve party I attended in 2014.
Beyond the removal of the drink, I find myself wondering if much has changed between now and then in how I present and conduct myself? My bedroom is as messy today as it would be at the end of a 4 day binge, my laundry gets washed as often, I can do ‘off the wall’ just as well but without the slurred words or glazed eyes, I still don’t shave every day. I am no better at constructively voicing my frustrations, or anger – in the last 10 days, I’ve punched a wall three times, and I’m still using sex destructively, of validating myself through the interaction with another.
The term ‘dry drunk’ is one that comes out of traditional 12 step recovery groups, like AA, and is used to describe someone who, whilst sober, behaves as they did when they were drinking. It can be seen as someone who hasn’t made the emotional changes, developed an alternative mental construction, to move forward in their life. Web-sites tell me that ‘superiority complexes’ are often symptomatic of this condition, representing a fixation on the self as the centre of the universe. When manifesting itself it at most extreme, this state of being can become ‘terminal uniqueness’ – the belief that the self is so unique, that no-one else could possibly understand one’s situation, or emotional complexities.
Just as an aside, someone should really introduce Shoreditch kids to the idea of ‘terminal uniqueness’ – it may help them put a term to what they all feel.
Am I a ‘dry drunk?’ Certainly I do identify with elements associated with the term – I live by the ‘I do what I want, when I want’ mantra, but I do this because I feel that I want to be selfish at this point in my life, surely that is acceptable. Note the lack of question mark please.
At the same time, I am not isolating myself within my problems, not knowingly anyway. This blog itself is testament to wanting to connect, share, listen and collaborate.
I am not trying to justify, myself but I wanted to exhibit the stream of consciousness that I am going through, because you may be going through the same. Maybe your boyfriend, girlfriend, mum, dad, child, best mate has their issues, and this may help you understand.
It also also helps me to understand.
At the end of the day, progress is progress – I’ve had 149 days with no hangovers, no black outs, no regrettable sexual encounters, no lost phones – and whilst that should be celebrated, I wanted to stand here and say that actually, sometimes **all this** fucking sucks. I look at my friends in the bars when I’m with them, sipping on my soda and fresh lime, and they seem so at ease with themselves, so confident in their approach with others – I’ll have what they’re having please. Oh, wait…
“Bullshit” I hear the drinkers out there cry – “we suffer from our own insecurities, we are people too, you just see what you want to see!” Yes, you are absolutely right, perception is everything, and the grass may be always greener, but my perceived ideas are still indicative of what I want to be able to achieve – an easy, care-less, floaty kind of ‘gives a fuck’ incredible.
I don’t have a yardstick, I don’t know what to measure anything against. I don’t know if the previous sentence is reflective of reliving an adolescence that I drank through the first time around and missed, or if actually, hey, this is what it is to be an adult and have to work it all out by yourself. More than this, and far from ‘terminal uniqueness,’ this is something we all have to do, so actually, my struggle should be far from individual.
This post isn’t about grabbing your attention, your pity or pathos, and nothing I have written about the positive elements of not drinking in past posts has been a lie, or embellishment. This is me sitting in a café, listening to Fleetwood Mac and waiting for my tinder account to reactivate (too many likes, too little time) saying that for all the positives, for all the places I feel I can now go, it is still difficult, every day poses riddles that I can’t always solve, and so I look for these answers elsewhere – from you reading this, the internet, Rough As, books, podcasts. Sometimes, I just have to accept that this knowing may only come in time, if it does at all, and that will have to be enough.
I feel like this is also part of the grieving process that I felt I was finished with. I need to let go of what has been, and all I felt I was and had, both the good and bad, and quite simply move on. Grief may sound like a strong word, but I challenge anyone to find something to encapsulate better what it feels like to mourn for something that now feels completely unobtainable – a ticket to play in the same way as I see others being able to, or perceive them to.
It is a process that hinges on an ability to learn how to be alone, before learning to be with others, to form organic human connections. I thought I was done with smoke and mirrors, but it is a complicated, twisting game where you can often be as much your own enemy as friend.
Hit me up, or find out more about me and this blog here….