I have no social life. This is in part due to the fact that I had a baby three months ago, and for the weeks that I spent heavily pregnant (and the size of a large building) I had absolutely no inclination to leave the house, other than to walk the dog in a half-arsed attempt to work off a few biscuit calories. So I sort of got accustomed to being a homebody, and really rather preferred being sat in front of Grand Designs to lumbering around some bar in a badly fitting maternity frock, drinking mineral water and being stared out sympathetically (“Oh, poor thing, isn’t she huge! She must be ready to pop any minute now…”) by the other clientele.
The weight is still something of an issue (a stone left to lose) but not so bad that I feel like a freak show whenever I’m out in public. The issue is that I have no idea how to have fun in a social situation when I’m sober, and rather than try to learn, I’m finding it easier to hide in the living room with Kevin McCloud. I stopped drinking eighteen months ago, and in that time I have been out socially on two occasions. Yes, two. And I’ve noticed that of late, I have become a bit of a misery guts when it comes to other people enjoying themselves, especially when they do so under the influence of booze. For instance, last night I was woken up at 2 am by a bunch of girls falling out of a taxi outside our house, who then proceeded to dissect the night’s events for the next half an hour in voices like foghorns, right underneath our window. I lay in bed listening to them and wishing I could lay my hands on a handful of rotten tomatoes to chuck out of the Velux at them.
I walk past signs advertising alcohol outside bars – ‘Why not stop and enjoy a refreshing cocktail?’ – and I feel my eyes narrow in disdain, my lips pursing together as I go all Presbyterian on the world. I glare when somebody smokes within a hundred metres of me, expressing my disapproval loudly just like my Mum used to do when she was trying to put me off cigarettes when I was younger, causing huge embarrassment to whoever I am with. And it is pretty hypocritical, all of this disgust I feel towards people who smoke and drink and socialise. Up until eighteen months ago, I could be found sitting outside my local in all weathers (heated and covered outdoor stable yard, great for chain smoking in tandem with necking vast quantities of booze!) several nights a week, or bar-hopping between cool establishments filled with glamorous people, sipping Champagne cocktails and feeling oh-so-sophisticated (until I fell over on the way out, stumbling in my efforts to stand up again in my stupidly high stilettos).
So why do I feel as though all of this is out of my reach, now that I no longer befriend Mr. Pinot Grigio? After much soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that the reasons are as follows;
a) I don’t know who I am. In certain social situations (i.e. evening, where everyone else is drinking alcohol, and in public places) I just don’t know how to act without the prop of wine. It’s easy to pull on a veneer when you drink – the personality just falls into place as the cold, crisp liquid runs down your throat, warming your insides and reaching the part of you that can’t come to the surface when sober. Brimming with confidence, witty, knowledgeable – at least to begin with anyway; as the night wore on a different face would appear – heavy eyelids, blanked out expression, fixed smile – my mind would shut down as I drifted into my own little blanketed world of security, a place where nobody else ever came with me. But sober, I am a completely different kettle of fish. A bit shy, not very confident, sometimes I can’t get my words out and I stutter a little, especially in front of people who I don’t know or who make me feel nervous. I don’t feel worthy, I don’t feel interesting. I have nothing to say.
b) I feel unattractive and plain when I am not drinking. Even before the first sip of wine had its effect on my brain, I would begin to feel a frisson of excitement, sexiness, just at the thought of what lay ahead. And when I had the glass in hand, everything came together, I felt complete. In my hand I clutched magic, something which turned me from a plain Jane into the most fabulous woman in any room. Without it I am just, well, the same as everyone else.
c) I hate watching other people drink. Hate it, with a passion.
d) Conversations are hard work for me when sober – I have to try a lot harder and often I get easily bored. Alcohol must have smoothed over an awful lot of boorish behaviour, and I thought everyone I spoke to was wildly interesting. In the cold reality of sobriety, this is, sadly, not so.
These are some of the reasons why a night out no longer appeals. Oh yes, and I am breastfeeding, which gives me the perfect excuse to keep up-to-date with Grand Designs for a few more weeks yet. Come the autumn, however, I will have to think of a new one – or learn how to enjoy socialising when sober…