This weekend is my baby brothers 40th birthday .. he celebrates every year in the same way by having an all day session in a pub in a beautiful setting near to where we live. Everyone looks forward to the annual pilgrimage .. some come by boat, some by bus, some by car. And it is drunken. Very drunken.
So I woke up yesterday dreading it. As most of you know, I've gone from a social butterfly to a social recluse since Soberdom, unsure where I fit. So much so, that in May I decided I would no longer socialise in pubs or around very drunk people. Apart from yesterday, when I had no option of backing out.
I guess my feelings where a mixture of fear, shyness (can you believe it?), apprehension & dread. Not much excitement to be seen. The day was to start at 12pm & carry on long into the night at a surprise party. The day ahead felt long,scary and uninspiring.
It really was a case of mind of matter. Did I want to sit there all day 'with the face on'? Did I want to ruin my brothers special day by being a misery? Did I really have to be a misery or was there a very small chance I might actually have a minuscule amount of fun somewhere along the line? Could I actually, possibly, maybe, still have an ounce of fun in me to pull out of the bag?
To make matters worse, my favourite sober buddy who had been by my side for the last 8 months, had selfishly gone to the hospital to give birth, leaving me to complete this challenge alone. The absolute cheek of it!
The event had been planned well in advance. I had agreed to drive & take my toddler nephew & the dog Lola. This was the logical option but also gave me a good excuse to leave if I needed to.
And so the day began at 12pm. It felt so very odd & 'against my religion' to be in a pub at that time. Well, to be in a pub at all. I felt twitchy & weird, but in my head was telling myself to get over it, that freaking out at 12pm was not gonna help me get to 9pm! There was a good selection of AF drinks and so I chose something different to feel different.
When we arrived at the main venue, the sun was shining & people started to arrive. There were people who'd travelled to be there from afar & people I hadn't seen for ages & people interested in my sober journey. Yes, people were getting pissed around me but actually, I realised I was having fun. I started to feel normal in a social setting. It wasn't as bad as I thought. So much so, that when the time came to take my nephew home, I wasn't wholly ready to leave! Unbelievable!
After a couple of hours break, it was then time to join the surprise party. This was the bit I was truly dreading. People had now been drinking for more than 8 hours. They were on repeat. They were slurring.
But, some were not. Some were still in my gang, not totally sober but not totally wrecked. And these were the people I gravitated to. I met new people, saw old faces & actually had conversations. And I enjoyed it. I actually had fun! I actually felt like myself again & didn't care that I was drinking soda water! And I got high on that. That I was finally out out, that I was finally enjoying myself at a party. That there actually is a life beyond alcohol. That perhaps I don't need to be a social recluse!
And finally, the biggest miracle of them all happened when my pregnant buddy gave birth to a beautiful bouncing boy called Bernie.
Welcome to the world Bernie, it turns out it's not as scary as you think it might be!