First of all, sorry for the three day gap between updates. This is because the past few days have been fairly hectic – I didn’t expect my birthday weekend to become so packed, but by a stroke of luck I ended up with a whole weekend of things to do. First thing on Friday, I’d arranged to meet a good friend for lunch near to my University, as he was staying in the area. I initially found this friend through this blog, and it was wonderful to finally meet him. Although Thursday was my actual birthday, lunch on Friday kicked off a great day which felt more like a proper birthday. We had a good chat about my recovery, plans for the future, hopes and aspirations. It was a lovely couple of hours; to that friend I am extremely grateful.
After that was over I had to walk round the corner to University, for a three hour afternoon lecture. It was then that I discovered I’d scored 70% in one of those coursework assignments which I handed in three weeks ago. A score of 70% or more constitutes a First – the best grade you can get. I was chuffed, as I realised that the hard work I’d put in for all those weeks was worth it after all.
The three hour lecture itself was pretty interesting. Throughout I was unable to stop my nerves about the evening ahead from gradually increasing. I had plans for that evening, and I wanted everything to be right. That’s only natural, isn’t it? I left Uni at 6 to head straight to town, where I’d booked the table in a nice pizza restaurant for fifteen people. At this point my nerves weren’t being helped by the fact that my mobile phone’s battery was about to die, meaning that anyone who happened to get lost trying to find the restaurant wouldn’t be able to get in touch with me.
I got there about ten minutes early, to find that we’d been placed down in the basement, which could only be found through an obscure door at the back of the restaurant. I was the first one there, and when I sat down at the big table on my own I was convinced that no one would be able to find me that night. The little remaining power in the phone’s battery was my only hope.
Luckily, it lasted long enough for me to send a text out to everyone who was due to come, telling them to come downstairs. Within half an hour, ten people had arrived, and I was some way back to feeling better. Unfortunately, two of the friends who’d marked themselves as ‘definites’ on my guest list never showed up; I knew this was because they might not have my number, so there’s every chance that they found the restaurant but couldn’t see me or any stairs leading to another floor, so they would have just assumed that I wasn’t there. I was pretty annoyed with the restaurant for having such a strange set up – but it was a lovely meal nonetheless. A while ago I would have felt guilty for my missing friends, but on Friday I knew there was nothing I could do about the situation. I had no way of getting their numbers to contact them, as none of the others in the group knew them.
We were in the restaurant until around 10 o’clock. To have so many people around me celebrating my birthday was, of course, lovely, but to have a few people who’d been there for my last birthday as well was even lovelier. What I’ve always wanted is a solid group of friends who are always there through the years, and I’m starting to get that now. Many in the group on Friday were actually new friends from AA – with any luck I’ll still be in touch with these people next year, as I have no intention of leaving AA now.
At 10pm we left the restaurant to head to one of the Soho clubs for a dance. I badly needed a dance; it had been at least a month since I’d had one. A few members of the group seemed apprehensive about coming to the club that I eventually chose; when we got there they stood to the side, clearly not enjoying themselves, while the rest of us got down on the dance floor. The music in the club was incredibly loud, and quite heavy – I can appreciate that not everyone would have enjoyed that kind of atmosphere. Again, a few years ago I would have felt guilty that not all of my friends were having a good time, but on Friday I realised that it wasn’t my responsibility to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves. My only responsibility had been to invite them. It was up to them to make sure they had a good time.
We danced for a few hours to heavy dance music which reminded me of the old days, when I used to dance to such tunes on a regular basis. To be completely sober felt normal. I didn’t consider having a drink once all night. Many people around me were drinking, of course, but I’ve been in enough bars in sobriety to be used to that by now. Four months ago I wouldn’t have believed I could survive in that environment any more. To be able not only to survive it but to have a reasonably good time as well was fantastic.
By midnight I was becoming tired, and knew instinctively it would be time to go home soon. Gone are the days when I can’t have a good night out unless I’m still dancing at 3am. These days I really value the ability to go home comfortably at a reasonable time. In my drinking days I had no choice in the matter – I had to stay until the very end, otherwise I would be completely miserable. Now I don’t think I could last much past 1am. I left the club at 12.30 and was in bed by 1 on Saturday morning. A tiny part of me still doesn’t like coming home alone, because it’s not exciting – but I’m older and wiser now, and I can’t lead an exciting life all the time.
Yesterday was another great day; I finally went to meet my aunt M for lunch, which I should have done two weeks ago. Instead of talking about my father, like we normally do, we just talked about general things for a few hours, such as our plans for Christmas. Two weeks ago I was disappointed not to see her because I wanted to ask about sending a Christmas card to my half brothers, who I never see; yesterday it didn’t come up in conversation, probably because I was too scared to mention it. I’d still like to send a card to my brothers, but at the moment I don’t think my higher power is going to make it possible. I can accept that.
It was great seeing my aunt, nonetheless, and I remain secure in the knowledge that our relationship is strong. Maybe she’ll see her brother this Christmas and tell him how well I seem to be doing; I know that they have conversations about me sometimes, even if it never leads to anything.