"Take a drink. Go on, take a drink"

It's no secret I have some problems when it comes to drinking. Somewhere along the line my "stop" button got broken and there have been times when I have had several drinks too far. I have had blackouts, found myself coming-to in places I have no recollection of choosing to go, sometimes with people I can't even remember meeting. I have lost hours, days. Once I found myself being hovered over by two paramedics: I was in a foetal position and yelling - drinking had released a traumatic memory and I had regressed to the age of around 8. I remember seeing my friends and flatmates looking pale and stunned, the paramedics very pissed off and all I felt was shame and confusion. The hangover the next day seemed like a welcome punishment - it was a pain I could understand- unlike the pain both numbed and released by drinking. My flatmates avoided me and my friends were almost painfully concerned. It was frightening.

Sure, I can drink "socially" perfectly safely (for example, I'm perfectly content having the odd one or two with Theo and I never feel as though there is any pressure to have "just one more...") and I have had some great boozy parties and softly winey evenings . I know that I need to steer clear of spirits in almost every shape and form, but I also have to be aware that one drink too far can take me further than I would ever want to go, particularly if I am feeling nervous, anxious, emotional or vulnerable in any way.

I can become frightening when drunk. Howlingly drunk isn't just a colourful phrase, it can be my reality. Self-pity overwhelms me, and I obliterate myself to get rid of it. Drink becomes a cushion between me and the world: I cancels me out so I am no longer there and don't have to feel the discomfort and fear. I am weak when it comes to drinking.

My workplace has a drinking culture. It's not unusual in frontline services working with the homeless - tough work leads to hard play, or something like that. I'm not convinced. I'm also somewhat alienated from the team-building drinks - I've avoided them on two different occasions, citing different excuses each time. I'm not sure how many more excuses I can come up with... So far this week all conversation has been focused on a leaving do that happened last Friday- the do I missed, very much deliberately. I was interrogated by a team member as to why I was absent. I had the handy "excuse" of both being on annual leave and recovering from a visit to the dental hospital, but I felt harassed and flustered - and angry that I should feel as though I needed an excuse to not turn up to something outside of work hours.

Even the thought of going out socially with my colleagues fills me with dread. I don't want to have to explain that I have a problem with binge drinking- and I don't feel comfortable enough with them to just have "one or two". I know I won't get "howlingly drunk" - but I don't want to feel the pressure that I should even get mildly inebriated. Drinking soft drinks isn't an option. Within the Scottish "take a drink" culture -particularly this organisation's "drink as play" culture- I might as well admit to murdering small fluffy animals as to preferring an orange juice. I'm worried that I won't be seen as part of the team unless I adopt the culture of the team (somehow ironic for an agency that does youth work and tries to empower young people to avoid peer pressure and to make healthier choices when it comes to drink and drugs) but I don't want to be part of a culture that damages me. I can't risk damaging myself for the sake of a job, regardless of how that decision affects how I will be perceived.

There is an "away day" coming up- a team-building "fun" away day that will inevitably end up with drinks. Attendance is obligatory - all work, all client visits, all shifts, stop for the day. I'm already dreading it- and I don't know how I will be able to get through it without taking a drink, or explaining just why I really would prefer not to.

6 comments:

Let's Kill Saturday Night said...

Tell them you're on antibiotics for an ear infection and you're not allowed to drink.

30-Something said...

Just tell 'em you're a recovering alcy. They won't even mention the word "drink" in your presence again.

Even if it doesn't work it might be worth it just for the can-hear-a-pin-drop type silence that'll descend across your place of work.

30-Something said...

p.s. you should get your missus to wax your back. nice red 'n yellow shoes tho..

Random Reflections said...

The thing is that there are probably other people you work with just go along with the drinking because that's what the others do, and they just don't feel as though they can say anything.

I hate the expectation that others put on people to drink. It's not big and it's not clever!

But as LKSN said - maybe you should just lie!

creepylesbo said...

Yeah, saying you have a medical condition usually works - especially if you say it's a peptic ulcer or a hernia in the top of your stomach and to drink causes you blinding pain and to start vomiting blood. People tend to leave you alone after that.

Just me said...

I have the same problem, am a binge drinker though been dry for about 5 years now after 'falling off the wagon having been dry 20 odd years. Now I just tell them straight am alcoholic and you are right it shuts them up. The 'can hear a pin drop' thing happens all the time but it just makes me laugh. Just you be strong for you and do what is right for you.