Browsing Category | Drinking

Procrastinatorsaurus

Today is the first post-birthday-party-Sunday in more than 20 years where I have woken up without a hangover. Every birthday I’ve had since I was old enough to  have friends with fake ID has involved significant amounts of alcohol. The venues of my birthday parties over the years have varied, but the plan has not.

1 – go to a place were we can drink

2 – drink

3 – drink

4 – drink

5 – ????

6 – where are we?

7 – how the hell did I get home and whose are these shoes? where’s my phone?

8 – oh god someone kill me Continue Reading

Dietsaurus

Last weekend I received in the post a dress I had purchased online. It’s  a very pretty vintage reproduction that I thought would work well for a number of weddings coming up this year. Having looked at the online size guide I could see that the 14 would probably be a little big, the 12 a little small, but due to the 14 being out of stock had to order the 12 if I wanted it at all. It arrived, and it is, in fact, a little small. ‘Little’ enough for  me to hope that a couple of weeks of really good food behaviour and good gym going to behaviour could just about make it fit.

I had mixed feelings about it being small. I was pleased that it was a little small and not a lot small, but at the same time I was annoyed with myself for having got quite as lumpy around the middle as I have. Since the roller derby ending knee injury last year I have found it really difficult to get back into shape again. Actually, no. That’s not true at all. It goes further back than that. In actual fact my lumpyness has been creeping up on me over the last few years – since my first serious derby injuries two years ago when I broke my rib at a practice session a mere 3 months after I broke my hand (also due to derby). I exacerbated the rib injury –  turning it from a small crack into a long  winding kidney-threatening fracture – by ignoring the pain at practice and playing an all day endurance event. It took me a long time to get back to my regular gym sessions and skating practice, and I think if I am really honest I never regained the joy in derby afterwards, and could never quite get my increasingly wobbly bottom back into a gym routine.

That gym routine only really existed because of roller derby. I’ve discussed my aversion to any sort of exercise regime previously on this blog. This last week of Mission Make Dress Less Small has actually been a great reminder that while I hate the thought of going to the gym, and sometimes I hate being there, I always feel FANTASTIC afterwards. I feel like I could run home. I feel strong, powerful and good about myself, and I sleep better. I don’t hold out any hope that I will find it any easier to make myself go in the first place, as that’s always a struggle, but I know that kickstarting my gym routine will definitely  make it easier to keep going once Mission Make Dress Less Small has reached a deadline.

Along with getting my lumpy bum back to the gym, a colleague kindly assisted by taking on my terrible eating habits – the main rule being NO SUGAR.  She shouted at me every time I transgressed, which was rather motivating. I refrained from all sorts of sugar just so she wouldn’t shout at me again. I’ve long suspected I’m over reliant on sugar, and have wanted to try to cut it out for a long time but never seem to get past the first day. But now I have Mission Make Dress Less Small and something to aim for. When I am tempted by sugar, I remind myself that if Mission Make Dress Less Small fails then I will be wearing a slightly too small dress at two weddings.

I’m keen to not make this A Diet though. I don’t like diets. I am rather scared of them. I need to look at the long term situation of me making better choices about what I eat even after once Mission Make Dress Less Small  is complete, whether I succeed or not. Giving up refined and added sugar and eating more protein and fewer carbs is part of that, but it has to be long term and not A Diet. It is vital that this remains about my health and my fitness (and fitting into the clothes I already own that used to fit) and not about losing weight.

From when I was very little, I believed that (not fat = better). That (thin = everything is ok). Of course, much of this comes from SOCIETY, but some of it (sorry Mum) may have came from seeing my Mum battle with her own weight issues.  I entered adulthood having always been veering between a little bit and a fair bit overweight and with a cast iron belief that if I wasn’t overweight, everything would be ok. I was fond of my food and fearful of exercise, so I spent my late teens and my early twenties overweight and wishing that I wasn’t, because then everything would be fine. Much of my difficulties I experienced in other areas of my life – relationship breakdowns, stress of my final year at university, family bereavement, permanent money worries, housing issues, job stress; all of those things that come with suddenly being a grown up and thinking “oh god, how can I be a grown up? I’m not a grown up” – well all of those things I knew, somehow, deep in the very make-up of my being, would be FINE and not so bad if only, IF ONLY, I was thin.

If I was thin, I could wear anything I wanted and look great. I wouldn’t think people were looking at me and thinking “what is she wearing?”. I could wear zip-up boots instead of having to always get lace ups. I could wear tight jeans and little shorts. I could wear skirts and shorts without having to wear leggings to prevent my thighs chafing. I would be able to buy tights without having to snip the waistband and then wear pants over them to keep them up. People would tell me I looked good, and would mean it. People would want to know me. No one would look at me and call me fat. All my difficulties and insecurities would diminish and fade away in the face of the beautiful THINNESS.

And then, one day, I decided to do it. To not be overweight any more. I don’t remember why, or how, or where the determination came from.  I became obsessed. I got a Weightwatchers  calculator. For a year, nothing would be bought in a shop without being run through the calculator. Shopping took 2 hours longer. Nothing would pass my lips without being recorded on my food spreadsheet. Over the months, I started looking good in trousers. Getting compliments. Fitting into size 12s. Feeling like I didn’t have to breathe in all the time. It took me much less time to get dressed to go out, as I started looking better in clothes. Ok, so I was hungry pretty much all the time and all I ever thought about was food, and I kept fainting, but It Was Happening! The rest of my life was starting! Here I go! I am NOT FAT! HELLO WORLD!

And then, a bit like a wave that starts from far, far away, slowly at first but growing in size and pace until it finally crashes with immense destruction on a tiny fishing village, came the realisation that everything is not ok. All of the other worries were still there. All of the anxiety. The self doubt. The grief. The unresolved issues from deep, deep inside my childhood years. My relationship problems, The money worries. The crippling low self esteem. It was all still there. Being ‘thin’ hadn’t cured it. It had maybe hidden it for a little while, but about as well as an elastoplast on a broken arm.

This might all seem very obvious to you, but to me it was catastrophic. Remember, my entire world view and firmly held belief was that everything is fine if you are thin. I was thin. And everything was not fine. I don’t know if you’ve suddenly had something you’ve believed your whole life suddenly been proved to be not just a little awry but completely and totally wrong; if you haven’t I hope you never do. It’s not a good feeling. I can pretty much pinpoint that time in my life that the depression took hold, and thus followed many years of ill health, physically and mentally. It didn’t help that I have a small boned top half and at the “right weight for my height” according to Weightwatchers I actually looked half dead. I don’t think that all this was the reason I became depressed, I think there were many reasons, but I do now look back at this as a catalyst.

It took me a long time and a lot of tears and therapy to crawl my way back to mental healthiness, and along the way the weight all came back too. Along with my improved mental wellbeing  these days I feel much more at peace with my own body. I now know that the only thing that is different  about my life if I’m less overweight is that I am weigh less. Getting back to the gym won’t make me thin, and  at my fittest when I was training 3 times a week and at the gym the other 4 I wasn’t ever thin – and I was significantly happier as a heavy curvy fit person than a hungry all the time fainting person. What it will do is make me happier because I am healthier. The desired result of Mission Make Dress Less Small  is purely and simply to make the dress less small. And if as a result the rest of my clothes fit better, and I have fewer sugar crash headaches and a bit more get up and go, then Bring It On.

Moral of the story, boys and girls. Being thin, or being not-fat, will NOT make you happy, and it will NOT make all of your problems go away; unless it is the only thing in your life that is making you miserable. And if it really *is* the only thing in your life making you miserable, then cheer up, because you have a really great life!

It's the glass that counts, not what you put in to it

This weekend was a big test for my continued sobriety. A combination of a full social calendar and a most unseasonable weather forecast I suspected that my resolve would be sorely tested. I will admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to  make it.  As Friday evening approached  I knew I was facing two of my biggest drinking weaknesses:

  1. The Free Drinks
  2. The House Party

1 : The Free Drinks

I work for a local authority. We don’t get work dos, or christmas parties, or client lunches. Our money is your money, so we can’t have big jollies at the expense of the taxpayer. The oft repeated mantra at work is ‘spend it like it’s your own’. Once a year however we put on a celebration for the Foster Carers who work for our borough.

Foster Carers do, in my opinion, one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and they do it for very little pay. It’s a 24 hour job, particularly with children not at school. There’s no lunch break, no 25 days holiday, no bank holidays off. The children they care for are often quite traumatised and need patience and understanding. I am not sure I could do it. A celebration to say thank you is something even the hardest hearted of taxpayers surely can’t begrudge. I support the management team of the fostering service, and along with joining them for dinner I had the pleasure of helping decorate the room, set out flowers, hand out raffle tickets and badger the technical staff until they turned on the glitter ball.

Before the dinner there was a drinks reception, with Prosecco, and we had some wine on the table for dinner. Up until the point when the doors opened and we started welcoming the Carers I thought I’d be fine – I didn’t want to get drunk here. I was at work. I  needed to keep my wits about me and represent my department and more importantly some Big Important End Of Level Bosses were there and falling on my face in a pool of tax payer purchased Prosseco in front of senior managers is probably a sacking offence.

When the waiter offered up a tray of shining champagne flutes to colleagues and carers while I took a tumbler of orange juice I felt like a child sitting at the naughty table. When you are wearing a pretty dress and a feathery fascinator and your best make-up and jewellery it just feels wrong to be holding a big heavy tumbler as you play hostess and greet guests. On a whim, I asked if I could have a glass of cranberry juice in a champagne flute. My request got me some odd looks, but as if by magic I felt so much better. I was too busy helping run the event to de-construct why that might have been, but for the rest of the evening I used a wine glass for my table water while the others drank wine. I didn’t feel any lack of confidence and found it perhaps easier to get up and dance and talk to people I didn’t know when I was feeling more confident that I wasn’t going to trip over my dress and slur at them.

2 – The House Party

Feeling great the day after a do with a free drinks reception is one of the big bonuses of being booze free. I was able to be up early and Get Things Done; things which included joining a walk for International Women’s Day. It was a wonderful event, with a great sense of community. Afterwards I joined some of my fellow participants for a pub lunch. It was a beautiful day – unusually warm for March which enabled us to sit in the beer  garden – all of my lunch buddies chose fruity ciders which sparkled in the sun. Inspired by my experience of the day before I asked for a wineglass with my Elderflower Pressé. It got some funny looks but again I was able to forget I wasn’t drinking and got on with enjoying my day. I enthusiastically endorsed the Soft Drink In A Wine Glass tip as if it was a tried and tested method.

Before the house party I met up with some old friends for dinner and chose lime and soda again insisting on a wine glass. I was starting to realise that the wine glass was deeply psychological. It felt completely different.  It wasn’t just about my drinking companions feeling more comfortable about my being sober because they knew I wasn’t drinking  – but somehow it was easier for me to forget that I wasn’t drinking. I was able to just enjoy the company and the conversation without constantly feeling different or on the outside. Somehow a wine glass just feels classier, nicer to hold,  easier to drink out of and somehow makes whatever is inside the glass taste nicer.

It makes sense if you think about it  –  after all, there’s a REASON people drink wine out of them rather than from, say,  a giant Sports Direct mug. I was most nervous about the house party – but by the time we arrived everyone else was drunk enough to either not notice or not care that I wasn’t drinking, and there were two other people who also weren’t drinking. One just for a short break, but the other gave up alcohol a few years ago and IS STILL COOL. I have several friends who don’t drink and  ARE STILL COOL and whenever I have a wobble or feel like a bit of a loser I remember N and C and how DAMN COOL they are and feel confident again that perhaps I too can be cool and sober. Well, sober anyway.

It was at the house party I started to have a bit of a revelation about my drinking. I noticed that whenever my drink was empty I wandered to the kitchen to re-fill it. After the third or so time I was looking at the options (soda water, a weird squash you will hear more about in a future blog, mango juice or water) and I didn’t really want any of them. It wasn’t that I wanted a vodka or a mojito; it was that I wasn’t thirsty. Why had I gone to get another drink? It was clearly out of habit! I was at a house party, my glass was empty, so I needed to re-fill it. Suddenly it clicked into place why I get so astoundingly hammered at house parties – because whenever the glass was empty I’d get another, regardless of whether I was thirsty or drunk enough or barely coherent. Having a drink in your hand seemed so much more important than having a drink.

Upon that realisation I put my glass down and rejoined the party, deciding to only drink when I actually wanted a drink. I made it til the early hours of the morning before I started flagging. Fortunately for me most of my friends appear to be entirely charming drunkards, and it wasn’t a case of needing to escape lary behaviour. I was simply at a point where I’d had a lovely evening and was ready for bed.

On the walk home Mr RDP (who had been drinking like a champion, safe in the knowledge I’d be able to carry him home) and I discussed the habit of constantly refilling the glass at a party. He wondered whether it was partly to do with being slightly socially awkward (although I suspect many of my friends would admit to being somewhat socially awkward) and having a glass in your hand gives you an ‘out’ to a conversation when you run out of things to say. “Oh look, my glass is empty, I’d better get another” is better than “I have run out of conversation. I’m going to go this way now”. Normally I would have thought that being sober would make conversation harder because sober I’m so terribly dull. But being sober at the party I actually found conversations more interesting – I had a longer attention span, and could really focus on people’s answers. Once I’d realised I didn’t need to constantly have a drink in my hand I settled down more and paid attention to trying to enjoy the party, not just the drinking.

I am starting to discover that the clumsy, awkward, charmingly scatty person that I think I am when I am drunk is actually pretty  much the person I am sober. The only difference is the false confidence of the alcohol, stripping away your inhibitions because you can blame stuff on being drunk.  Being unable to blame falling over or getting mixed up in conversation on being drunk means that I am having to learn to be more mindful of what I say, how I react, and also to develop a better ability to laugh at myself when I say stupid things or fall over or knock drinks out of people’s hands. If I say or do something stupid I have to own it there and then and either apologise or get over it, and then get to wake up in the morning and not have waves of anxiety – false alcohol driven over-confidence takes its payment in the form of double the shame the next day.

I started the weekend wondering if I’d make it to Sunday booze free, but instead discovered that I don’t need to have a couple of bottles of wine inside of me to feel better about myself, or to feel like I am fun or interesting. In fact, I don’t even need to have wine inside the wine glass. Drunk me is sober me, but with fewer memories and a sore head in the morning. Lime and soda in a wine glass is lime and soda, but COOLER.

The benefits of clarity, the price of Tch

The last week of Dry January has been an easy one for me – very few opportunities or temptations as Mr RockstarDinosaurPirate and I are moving into a little flat he’s just bought – he’s on the first rung of a very expensive property ladder. Therefore this week has featured mainly planning, packing, and occasionally camping out in the flat enjoying the empty space before it’s taken over by all of our possessions (we have so much stuff. Oh god. So. Much. Stuff.) The activity and minor stress of the week has left little space for drinking, and I haven’t wanted one.

Mr RDP completed in the week that it was revealed that the average house price in Hackney, where I lived happily for years before moving in with Mr RDP and where I work, is HALF A MILLION. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hackney, I think it’s great, but HALF A MILLION? House prices are high across the country, but in London they are insane.  BabySisterDinosaur (my  half sister is in her mid twenties and she’ll be my baby sister for ever. Even when she’s sixty and I’m seventymumble.) has also recently bought a flat, but in North Devon. The comparison size for size, cost for cost, finish for finish from her place to Mr RDP’s place is not favourable. By comparison, hers is a sprawling perfect palace at a teeny price. Not, of course, if you factor in wage difference etc etc, but it’s hard not to make that comparison.

Daddy RockstarDinosaurPirate and The Wicked Stepmother  (a long used and utterly inaccurate nickname for her, for she is not at all wicked, and is in fact completely lovely)  came to visit this weekend  Daddy Dinosaur is a builder by trade, and he spent several hours happily knocking on internal walls, poking things, making ‘humph’ and ‘tch’ noises, scrambling around in the loft (to my alarm; he’s 60 and needs an artificial hip)  and drawing on the walls. They also live in North Devon, and were shocked at the comparison to BabySisterDinosaur’s flat. I had a copy of a local paper and showed them some of the other properties that are going in our area, where prices have risen about 20% in the last 6 months (partially due to Hackney becoming so unaffordable).  You would naturally expect prices in London to be more, and living here I guess I get a little desensitised to it. Seeing the folks’ reaction to it from the perspective of outsiders really brought it into focus. Especially when Dad started pointing out all the things in the flat that needed doing up, fixing, changing and improving and how much these things might cost. 

Due to excellent planning, entirely typical of the RockstarDinosaurPirate household, Mr RDP is away for the weekend with some old schoolfriends, back late tonight, with the removal van arriving tomorrow. While ‘camping’ at the new place, we discovered that there was a gas leak. This resulted in me camping at the new place on my own for most of the weekend while gas men make ‘tch’ noises at the boiler (illegal) and the pipework (nonsensical). The costs of buying the place itself was bad enough, but all the ‘tch’ noises I’ve heard this weekend seem to add up to lots of ££££. I have been astounded at all the things a survey *doesn’t* bring up.

I suspect that if I wasn’t on my non drinking trip, while camping I would have got myself a bottle of wine or some boozy ginger beers, thinking that they’d cheer me up and make the weekend more fun and bearable – but in the cold light of sobriety it’s clear that actually they would have made me less able to cope with the ‘tch’ news and the early mornings and the bad news. The clarity brought by lack of booze-fog has made being a Practical Grownup so much easier.

Ok, so perhaps being in my pyjamas on a Saturday night by 6pm and watching Miss Marple isn’t the most rock and roll ways to spend a Saturday night, but I didn’t feel sad, or anxious, or lonely. BabySisterDinosaur even commented on my FB this week that “You’re so happy all the time when you don’t drink!”. I made a joke about it on the time, but have been thinking about that comment a lot – have I? Has it been easier to cope with stress and ‘tch’ when you just have to get on and COPE, and not go fuck it, I’ll have a glass of wine to chill out? This is something I’ll have to think about as the months go by. I have had problems in the past with anxiety and depression, and there are clear links between mental health issues and alcohol. I’d never even considered in the early days of my non-drinking experiment that a side effect could be improved mental happiness. I’d been more worried about people thinking I am boring, not going out as I wouldn’t know what to say or how to have fun, and getting more depressed. But perhaps the opposite is true.

Judging by the about of ‘tching’ I can hear from the gas men in the kitchen right now, I am going to be glad I am not spending money on booze as much of it might be needed to go into this flat, and glad of increased resilience over the next few months.