First of all, let me say I’m feeling much more serene than I did twenty-four hours ago. The date I’ve just come back from is probably one of the best I’ve ever been on. I think I said before that I’ve never been on a date in my life – that might be a little lie as I probably have gone on dates, in the sense of going to the pub and getting drunk with men I’d pulled in the club the night before – I guess I wouldn’t have counted the ‘dates’ I’ve been on in the past as real dates, because I was always drinking on them, never being myself.
Tonight’s date was the best ever, because I was myself, for the first time. Alcohol wasn’t a part of the equation, and that felt wonderful. D and I went for dinner, then visited the Christmas fun fair in the square, where we decided to get on the simulator that acts like this giant rollercoaster. It was realistic and very scary – my heart was pounding for at least ten minutes afterwards. That’s the sort of thing I’d never do before. It felt very random, which I guess is why it was so much fun.
After that we went for coffee in the heart of London’s gay village, where I’ve spent a lot of time drinking coffee in the past five months. We’d been chatting non-stop all night, and this continued in the coffee shop, though it was so busy there I think D felt slightly uncomfortable. I was taken aback a bit when he asked if I wanted to go to one of the bars for a dance. I thought it would have been even busier and more uncomfortable in the bars at that point – but he seemed keen to go, so I followed him, confident that I wouldn’t be tempted to drink and hopeful that he wouldn’t be either.
We spent a couple of hours in this bar where I used to go drinking on my own all the time. It was the first time I’d been there in months, and it felt very strange going back, I can tell you. I wasn’t uncomfortable, because I have been out on ‘the scene’ a few times in sobriety already, and I think I’m used to being sober in those places now. It’s just that because I hadn’t been in this particular bar for so long, I kept thinking: ‘what’s changed?’ It didn’t take me long to realise that it was I who had changed. The bar, and the people in it, were all the same, only I was different. I didn’t want a drink at any point tonight; there was no danger of me making a fool of myself, going home with some inappropriate older man whose name I won’t remember in the morning.
That’s the person I used to be, and for a long time this bar summed up that lifestyle for me. For a long time I couldn’t imagine going there and doing anything different. Going back after all this time made me appreciate how much I’ve really changed, and how much I absolutely love being sober. I love being in control of my behaviour, having a choice over how my night’s going to end.
D and I danced a little but sat together holding hands for most of the night, whilst talking about our favourite pop music, our pasts, and our hopes for the near future. I’m now more sure than ever that we have an awful lot in common, and I already know we’re going to be very good friends, whatever happens. We’re comfortable in each other’s company; we can talk about anything, and it just feels natural. To be able to do all this sober is a miracle for me. Just to sit in that place not drinking is unbelievable for me. In sobriety I certainly wouldn’t make a habit of going to these bars all the time, but it’s nice to know I can go occasionally and have a reasonable time. They do play good music there.
At the end of the night I asked D if he’d like to do it again some time, to which he replied with a smile on his face: “Most certainly.” So, we’re officially dating now, I guess. Just before parting company, I kind of wanted to kiss him, to put the icing on the cake as it were, but I was too shy and chickened out. I’m sure he would have loved a kiss. But we have agreed to take it slow, and I’m aware that we have the rest of our lives to kiss. The old me would have been upset that that one thing didn’t happen tonight, that the date wasn’t 100% perfect. The old me would have thought that a date isn’t a date without a kiss. Well, I’m not the old me any more. I can’t fault tonight at all. It was as good as it could have been; everything that happened was meant to happen.
One thing I can be sure of is that we really like each other – which must be a good start! With past boyfriends I never waited to find out whether I liked them or not before jumping into bed with them. Never once did I just wait. There aren’t meant to be rules in sobriety, but if I could set a rule for myself now, it would be to wait. Impatience is one of the great character defects that I’ve identified in my step 4 work, so I already know that I have trouble with waiting in general. I’d still love to end up in a relationship with D, but it would be so nice to just let things grow naturally, to give it time and space. I don’t want to rush into things any more – I want to do this right. So far, I am confident that I have done things the right way.
Tonight I’m grateful for my sobriety. I’m grateful for a lovely day. I’m grateful that I have enjoyed my first sober date. I’m grateful that I’ve at least made one very good friend. I’m grateful that I always have a warm, secure home to come back to.