Just two days to go until my first sober anniversary, and I am enjoying a pretty good weekend. Yesterday I was secretary at the west London meeting for the second time; it went as well as I could expect it to. Afterwards I travelled to South London to meet S and D for another big night out. We danced to great music into the early hours of the morning, just as we did last weekend after pride. Once again it was great fun dancing with fellow alcoholics. I love their company more and more every weekend. The only disappointing aspect to the evening was that I didn’t meet anyone ‘special’. I thought I’d learnt years ago not to expect to meet Mr Right in a nightclub, but clearly I hadn’t!
For some reason I went out last night expecting to meet the man of my dreams, just as I used to every weekend in my drinking, and of course I didn’t meet anyone in the end. There were lots of lovely men to look at, as there always are, and the chances are that at least one of them would have been interested in me. I’d love to have had a nice kiss and cuddle last night, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t make the first move on anyone. One guy kind of flirted with me on the dancefloor for a while, but I was scared to take things any further. S kept telling me to just go for it, I wouldn’t get anywhere if I continued to give into the fear, but sadly the fear was too great to conquer yesterday. It was the absolute fear of rejection – even if one of these guys had said “yes” to me, any kind of encounter could ultimately have led to rejection.
It all boils down to the tragic fact that I still think I’m unattractive. I saw S interacting naturally with all these gorgeous guys, and the voice in my head was saying: ‘I could never be good enough for any of them.’ S absolutely exudes confidence, and I don’t, and I know that confidence is what they find most attractive. I also know that most people are pretty shy about this sort of thing, which is why someone may well have found me attractive but decided not to make the approach because they were just as terrified as me.
I realised a long time ago that I’m never going to meet anyone if I don’t take the risk every now and then and make an approach. I also realised that meeting anyone in a nightclub is hardly going to be the basis of a meaningful, long term relationship. You hear about people meeting their long term partners in these places occasionally, but the reality is that it’s very rare to find anything other than casual sex on the gay scene. I should know, after all the years I’ve spent on it. And that’s fine, casual sex is fine if that’s what you want. Is it what I want? The trouble is, I don’t seem to know. S said today that it doesn’t matter if all I end up with after a night out is a meaningless one night stand, because all I want is for someone to take my clothes off and do rude things to me. My instant, old reaction was to take offence, because S should know that I’m not interested in anything other than deep, intellectual conversation. But then I thought, hang on – it’s been seven months since I went with anyone, more than a year since I enjoyed anything with anyone. Can I really afford to be picky about what encounters I choose these days? More to the point, is there anything really wrong with me having a casual one night stand after all this time of uneasy celibacy?
When I was drinking I met and spent the night with guys all the time. It was so easy, because I would go with anyone who’d have me. When I got sober I made a very conscious decision not to behave like that any more. If I had approached the one guy who seemed to show interest in me last night, it might have felt like I was acting out. I’m not entirely sure that it would have been proper ‘acting out’, but it might have felt that way. If I’d gone home with that guy it could have been a brilliant night, but I’d still have woken up in a strange bed this morning, with the possibility of a long and tiring journey home ahead of me. I’ve woken up in my own bed every single night except one this year, and I have gotten rather comfortable with that. Waking up in strangers’ beds was never pleasant. Despite the fact that I would have been entirely sober last night making the conscious decision to go home with that person, they would still be a stranger living in a strange, unfamiliar part of London or elsewhere, and I can’t ignore the slutty connotations of that behaviour.
I really want a meaningful, long-term relationship with someone who I have jointly built up trust with. Ideally they would be a friend first. How the hell am I going to meet someone like that in a club? How the hell do I meet anyone like that, full stop. My dilemma grows in magnitude every day. I don’t want to lower myself to something casual and cheap, but while I’m waiting for Mr Perfect to show up, my physical needs are left unsatisfied. I’m starting to think that my fear of all casual, quick encounters is less to do with my morals and more to do with fear of rejection. In my drinking days I came across many men who didn’t care that I couldn’t perform brilliantly in bed, and I came across many more who did care. I face exactly the same problem today, in that I still can’t perform in bed, because of this stupid self-consciousness which tells me that I’m ugly. So I risk humiliation with every man that I get involved with. It happened in December, one dreadful night when I made the mistake of travelling across London to meet someone from the internet. The truth of the matter is: I’m not avoiding sex because I don’t like it, I’m avoiding it because it terrifies me. Many people coming into recovery say that they feel like virgins again, and that is precisely where I am. I don’t know where to go from here. Well, I do: I have to start being brave, clearly. I have to make the decision once and for all whether I want to meet guys in clubs or not, and then I have to start behaving according to that decision. I can’t stay stuck in this quandary forever, because it’s really bothering me. I drank on it for years. Once again I’m reminded that drinking wasn’t the problem, it was the symptom.