The Sober Hang-over
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
I went out to dinner last night with some close friends. They are not big drinkers so that makes things easier for me. The pressure is off. I’m not getting nudged to the bar. There’s no expectations of me. No need to perform.
But, unfortunately I don't know another way of being. Putting on a show is in-built. It’s my role. My job.
Be a good friend by making everyone laugh.
That is who I am, the funny one, the one falling over, the one having her pony tail held as she regurgitates sex on the beach in to a plant pot.
Now sober, this act has side affects. Trying to be the drunk me… sober, is difficult. I want to give my friends the impression that I’m relaxed, enjoying myself. They’d never question that I was happy and content sat there stuffing Arancini balls down my neck whilst sipping on a ginger ale. But the truth is I’m still putting on an show. I’m trying to relax in an environment that is foreign to me. I feel like a new born brat thats bloody head has been pulled from a womb and be told to do the Macarena.
I don’t know how to do it. I haven’t been to AA. I’ve simply quit drinking (not so simply, terrifyingly) I have no instruction manual to teach me how to do this. It’s still very possible I will fail, buckle at the sight of a cold tap beer or a crisp Pinot Gris. I almost want to fail.
I sit with my friends, lauging at the right points. Talking about my children, pretending to care about theirs. My mouthful of rice ball gets stuck in my throat, my lips are dry and I’m so self aware that I can feel my heart pumping in every part of my body. Sure, I tell joke and make amusing quips like I’m supposed to, but the aftermath is tepid. I’m present to witness the unconvinced chortles and the awkward pauses.
In my drinking days I would have laughed so loudly at my own hilarity that it would have drowned out these awkward gaps. I would have flung my hair from one side to the other and ordered shots. Not giving a flaming sambuca what anyone thought… until the next morning…
Then the fear would hit as questions seeped slowly out of the black out. I oozed self hate and shame. Anxiety is the main reason I had to stop, (well that and the fact that I was passed out when my baby needed breast feeding) I thought giving up drinking would stop those heebie jeebies, instantly. I was surprised that my anxieties hung around like the whiff of sour vomit after a tipsy kebab gorging.
I woke up today (the morning after my very normal sober night out) with an apprehension in me. Not a gentle awakening, more of a jolt. Fear over what I had said, of how I’d come across, filled me from head to toe. My heart raced. Usually that was a sign that i’d over done it, that i’d poisoned myself, that my recovery was going to be long and full of panic, that I might choke and die…
But what did it mean now? What is this feeling? How can I be hung over with no alcohol?
I sat back on my squashy pillow and pondered this. Is it possible to feel embarrassed about behaviour when clear headed. Is it possible to regret when un-drunk? Do sober people act like twats too?
I soon realised my sober hang over is because without the vail of alcohol I had nowhere to hide. If I ‘d been drunk last night and said a silly comment, offended someone or made a tit out of myself I could simply blame the bottle. Drinking had been a consistent excuse for my very questionable behaviour. Slept with a taxi driver, dont worry about it I was wasted,hahhahahah!…
Now, all that is left is me. There is no bottle to hide behind.
I sit up in my bed with a hot cup of tea and try to talk myself out of the darkness.
‘You’re fine, you were funny last night, people still like you, even if you are a boring tit, you’re doing the right thing’As I sat there I went over every moment, every word, from my night out. But there was nothing. Nothing bad and nothing I couldn’t remember. There was nothing to regret and if someone had been upset by something I said I would have noticed because i was there, phisically and mentally to see how my behaviour impacted others.
There was be no need phone friends to say sorry. Everything I said and did was real, true.
It didnt take long. Half way through my cuppa the feeling had subsided. No full days in bed sleeping off the vodka shots here. No sir! I got up and sat down at my computer to write.
It’s weird that the realness that filled my heart did so with an impending doom? I have been drunk for so long that I ‘ve become accustomed to waking up in shame.
Shame over what I said, who I slept with, how I danced and shame over what I had forgotten. That damage will take a while to undo.
I’ve lived like that my entire life.
Thats not a life. Thats a prison. It’s a place I went to, a place where I could avoid life.
Practice will fix me, I will have to endure many nights out feeling self aware before I accept this new me and get to know me.
I’ve spent 26 years drunk, talking shit and falling over. I mean, there’s only so many times I can walk down the high street with a traffic cone on my head. It gets boring after a while, and heavy.
I’ve done drunk. it’s time to put down the cone and do sober.
Awkward nights out, sober hang overs and all.
Follow me in a non-stalky way..
Photo is my late 90's skate girl phase - never had a skate board, never skated - I just did it because I fancied skate boys. it didn't work. I thought I was cool - actually I was just drunk.