All the things I will never remember.
One morning, years ago, I woke up with blood all over my face, and a broken tooth.
I remember – or, more to the point – I don’t remember a lot of things that happened to me during that time.
I don’t remember why my tooth was broken (I do remember the guy that kissed me straight afterwards though – gross). I don’t remember how I got into that hotel room, or where my bag was. I don’t remember where my friends disappeared to, or why I thought running out on everyone to go clubbing was the best idea I ever had. I don’t remember why I wanted to miss that flight home, or how I fell off that stool. I don’t remember why I was feeling so bad, or so happy. Why I was crying or laughing or feeling or not feeling. I don’t remember much to be honest.
It’s been about four and a half years – after 20 odd years of being a mega-mad-non-stop-party-animal that I finally decided to quit.
It’s surprisingly hard to write about. I’m not shy about it, I am open about the experiences I had and have spoken about this so many times, to so many people. Yet writing it seems more permanent, like I am exposing myself to some sort of guilty behaviour. I don’t want to be that girl – especially when for so long I was that cool-wild-fun-girl. Especially in the UK, where binge-drinking is the norm. Especially at a uni-like course where that’s how everyone decompresses and has fun (no judgment by the way!) But I kind of feel like it’s important for me to. We’re working hard to get jobs in adland, and being sober when it’s considered anti-fun can be tough and even scary at times. There’s clearly still a long way to go.
And I speak from experience. Recently I was invited to an awards ceremony. I had to fight to get a free drink that wasn’t orange juice in a huge blue plastic cup (whilst everyone was sipping crisp cold champagne from CHAMPAGNE FLUTES may I add). I looked like a 5 year old at a grown-ups party, and not because I was wearing a cool black pinafore dress ok? Hey, I may be sober but I still want to look cool dammit. And yeah, it felt crap.
So it has been hard. Of course it has. I lost friends, people didn’t understand, and sometimes they still don’t:
- Ah so you’re the boring sister then?
- Why aren’t you fun anymore?
- Surely you can have one? Just a glass of wine?
(for the record I am still VERY fun, I’m just no longer a liability when I do go out partying, you’re welcome).
The truth is I tried for years to have just one glass, but I would blackout immediately. I tried cutting back: blackout. I tried doing the whole one alcoholic drink, one glass of water thing: blackout. I tried everything: blackout. It was fun at times of course, and I was fun – it was crazy and stupid (good) and exactly what I needed at the time (probably says my therapist). But it was also self-destructive, dangerous and incredibly stupid (bad).
The last time I ever got drunk I had an argument I can’t remember, got carried home, I can’t remember putting my son to bed, and I can’t remember reading him a story.
And do you know what?
Who cares why I smashed my face, or forgot my friends, went clubbing on my own, or missed a flight? But I swear on my life, that never again will I risk losing one moment with my son. And for that alone, it is the best decision I have ever made.