Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Goodbye my old... friend?

When I quit smoking for the zillionth time it left a scar.  One of those livid ones that will always be a little tender to the touch.  I know for certain that should ever the medical profession suddenly announce it was all a mistake and they aren't shockingly bad for you, I'd be the first in the queue clutching my tenner and sparking up.  This is not, nor is it likely to be the case so I have to face the fact that my dear old pals - they saw me through some tough old times I can tell you - are no longer a part of my life.  I will never forget them.  I think of them wistfully in moments of stress or anxiety - these are common moments for me as adrenaline, cortisol, and anything else the body usually produces as a fight or flight thing are a major part of my natural state - something I daily try to overcome and hope the Yoga will continue to help with.  Or when I'm working on something 'academic' and having to concentrate properly like a grown-up; with certain people; in certain places; after a good meal; first thing in the morning... these times, I still get a flash of yearning for a Camel Light or even a Silk Cut (Silver would do...).

Here's the thing, I thought it would be exactly the same grieving process with my dear old pal 'Vino'.  I thought not downing a gallon (or even a galleon) of wine at a party would mean I sat alone in a quiet corner pretending to sort out the fascinating contents of my handbag.  But no! Not only have I not yet missed having any booze at all for some weeks now, I'm actually preferring it.  My whole adult life (well, since about 13 I guess) has been punctuated by hangovers, groggy days and dehydrated nights with a tongue swollen to 8 times its usual size yet simultaneously wrung out like a giant sun-dried tomato (ew! that's those off the lunch menu then).  I've lost whole evenings to the demon drink - and days too.  I've danced on tables, fallen down stairs and philosophised about the most random things in that way only a drunk person can do - earnestly and repetitively.  I have thought the world my best friend and sobbed uncontrollably whilst babbling total nonsense to complete strangers. Once I was even told to quieten down and go home by a (frankly, rather stout) policewoman. 

I'm not, by the way, a raging alcoholic, but I've always loved a drinkie as many people do and since I passed 40, I'd begun to notice it's taken less to hit me hard and increasingly longer to recover.  Oh, most of the time its been great of course: shared meals and lazy afternoons with friends and hysterical evenings with family, Birthdays and Christmases etc., laughing, dancing, singing (oh and I am AWFUL so it is best left off for that reason alone) and I'd not change a single thing.  It is not worth regretting stuff - life is WAY too short but despite the many good times, most of the bad times I've had were never helped by drinking (and frequently made worse).  My choice was made for me with this diabetes thing and the medication I have to take so I thought I'd kick up and resist.  I believe some people do get away with one or two 'now-and-again' on Metformin  but somehow it just felt like a good time to call my love-hate relationship with alcohol off.  Quit while we are both still in with a chance of finding love elsewhere (I'm speed-dating rebound drinks at the moment. Diet Coke was a one-night-stand and a mistake - makes me burp too much to be sociable.  The fruit  juices are too sweet and soda water looks like I'm trying to be cheap; so far, slimline tonic is looking like she might get a second date...)

But, but, but, I cannot believe just how liberating it is to be free of alcohol.  Not only am I losing weight (not just giving up the grog is doing that, I know, but it is making a difference) I'm sleeping won-der-full-yyy and dreaming things I can remember and want to!  I have slept right through the night every night, for a few weeks now and it's great. That alone would make it worthwhile.

I had two 'events' last week that would usually have involved a lot of boozing, carousing even! And I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how it would be for me (that's a bit sad isn't it?!). The first was a dinner with my wifey (yes, wifey - tis no great big deal these days I hear) and the two Es - the funniest pair of lively, young buddies who make each other laugh and it isjust plain fun to be around them.  The dinner was to be followed by a game of 'Cranium' (we live right on 'the edge' in Surrey - sometimes we even play board games... outside).  I would usually drink throughout the evening.  Probably a couple whilst cooking, a couple whilst eating and a couple more to follow.  I'd wake the next day, groggy but functioning but very much aware of being tired, a bit grumpy (a bit grumpier than usual) and just a bit 'off'.  I'd also probably doze off at some point or be wanting to during the evening.  Instead, I had a brilliant time, slept like a log and woke up raring to go the next day.  A lovely, relaxed night - aah, my team lost the game but you can't have it all.  A board game that involves 'play-doh' and 'eyes-shut drawing' is bound to be a challenge.

The second event was a party for a gay friend - this I mention purely for the reason that only when you know this (if you also know gay men) can you get a full picture of what the evening would, inevitably, be like.  Middle-aged gay men, cake and champers = a definite, full-on, camp carousing opportunity: heavy on the fabulously scented grooming products and no holds barred on the designer footwear daahling.  This was no exception.  Birthday boy was already flying when we arrived and so was his Mr.Right.  Naturally, as you would expect (no point in avoiding stereotypes when they are so very right) the food was delicate, decorative, canape-ish and "Oh, had it delivered in, love, by a little woman just locally, pricey, but so worth it!".  The cake was two cakes (well, of course), one being an enormous pavlova, the other a large, gooey, creamy, spongey affair that called to me like a lacivious old hooker from the minute I arrived.  I resisted  obvious charms but by god it was tough.  Anyway, you get the picture, it was a lovely do.  And there was champagne. CHAMPAGNE! No-one turns that down. Do they? Well, yes indeedy:  I do!  I enjoyed my slimline tonic water rather more than I thought I would (it was a warm night and I was actually glad not be be dehydrating) and I had lovely chats with lovely people and I can still remember their names and what we said - which was, on my part, coherent. Imagine! How cool?  Well, to most people, probably not very - but to me it feels like something of an achievement.    

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