Next month I am going abroad, to Italy for a weekend. It is a very close friends 50th Birthday. Her husband is taking her to Venice and Florence for a few days break – they will spend the first days alone and then her sisters, and some friends (including me) are joining them for a surprise weekend party in Florence.
When I was first asked if I could attend. I was really pleased and excited. I quickly asked my brother if the children could stay with them for the weekend, and booked a flight. But as the time draws nearer I’ve started to feel really apprehensive, and I’m not quite sure why.
The obvious answer is that I arrive late (11pm) in Bologna and then have to get myself somehow to Florence… either by car , or by public transport, or by taxi perhaps? But feeling anxious about this is nonsense. I’ve navigated myself around Kathmandu, and a little planning and organizing will sort this one out.
I’m not worried about the kids, they will be fine with their Uncle, Aunt and cousins. I’m not worried about work – I timed the flight to fit in, I live reasonably close to Heathrow, so I’ll drop the children and have plenty of time to catch my flight.
I know three of the other attendee’s very well, apart form the birthday girl and her husband. Two are amongst my oldest and closest friends. I also know the host’s sisters who will be there, so I’m not anxious because the weekend will be spent with strangers.
I know what it is.
It the spectre of alcohol. Its knowing that others will be drinking whilst I cannot, that because its a celebration, a stolen weekend in a foreign city, some people will drink a lot. And I can’t. And so I will feel edgy, anxious, left out. Uncomfortable in one way or another, sitting in the evening at a table whilst others slowly get drunker, with a rictus smile on my face, feeling exhausted and bored with the conversation because people who are drunk are boring unless one is also drunk. I really, really don’t want to be in this position, edgy, anxious and feeling conspicuous. I don’t want to talk about my abstinence, certainly not to people I don’t know well. Its private. Unfortunately, my previous reputation, and their former experience of me, as a ‘party girl’, will mean that my ‘not drinking’ WILL be noticed and potentially commented upon, questioned ….
It’s been quite some time since I was in this position. Last Summer I went out for lunch with a large group, a long boozy lunch, that the end I was pretty keen to leave… not since then. The last time I went out to dinner with a group, my brothers birthday, others were not drinking, ad i was driving so it was no problem… No one will be driving in Florence, no-one has work the next day, or a babysitter to get back for. There is even mention on the Whats app chat group of ‘clubbing’ and ‘Karaoke’…
This whole thing sends me into a panic, but if I calm down and appraise the situation carefully I might feel better. So …
Friday evening I won’t be there for dinner. This is a shame, since (although I didn’t realise it initially) this is set to be the ‘main event’. However my flight doesn’t leave ’till 8pm… so I will arrive very late, and just go to bed
Saturday will be sightseeing – and probably a leisurely lunch. I expect that some others might opt for soft drinks, but if not, its hardly unusual to avoid alcohol at lunchtime. I absolutely DO NOT want my abstention to be a ‘BIG ISSUE’ – I can’t imagine anything would hate more than having to explain why I don’t drink to a crowd of people ..
No, the problem will be Saturday evening…. so what options do I have?
I could not go out with the group – whether I tell the truth, or obfuscate, claim an headache / tummy ache etc…and at first glance this seem the best option. Removes me from temptation (although that’s not the main problem) and I’d be quite happy with my kindle for the evening … Or go out for dinner, and plead a headache after dinner before any club / dancing ( because I am NOT going to do that) I never liked clubs even when I was drinking, sober its just my idea of hell…
Or i grit my teeth and ‘do it’ so as not to draw any attention to myself, just put up with the whole entertainment as agreed by the whole group.. this risk there of course is that I get the ‘fuck it’ moment ….
Sigh .. Once Sat night is done, I will be ok; my flight home is late afternoon Sunday …
I think now that I’ve ‘named it’ and recognised it, the anxiety about the whole things is assuming (slightly more) reasonable proportions. I have quite understandable concerns, and I need to do what is acceptable for me to deal with them …. I just need to decide what that is. In my worry I’m falling back on some of my earliest sober strategies … plan, plan, and then plan some more !
Or I could just not go …. right now, that looks appealing (which gives some indication of how worried I am )
On the positive side, no matter how much I am stressing about this weekend it has not ONCE crossed my mind to just have “one drink” .. this has to be a good thing!