I have always been independent. I made my own decision to go to university, I chose the course I wanted and the college I went to. And I chose one where I knew no-one. That was not a deliberate decision. I could have chosen Cork University where my school friends were going but instead I chose the course I loved the sound of. It was a by-product that I would know absolutely no-one.
Some years later, I arrived in London with a beau. He had moved from Australia so we could live and experience London together. We split up some time later and in the same week my work contract ended. So within 48 hours I lost the only job I’d had in London, my home and boyfriend. I chose to stay in London though. To make a go of it rather than head back to Ireland which would have been easier.
I know this. I am strong.
I have strength. Resolve. Resilience.
I have built it and I know that it has always been in me as well.
Except when it came to alcohol. I have not been strong. I have not done what I wanted to do.
I stopped drinking alcohol a few years ago. Not properly though. I would stop for a spell and then I would have the odd unexpected big night out. Sometimes I have a few glasses of wine when I go out for dinner.
I feel obliged though rather than really wanting to drink.
I have a drink to make others feel better. To put them at ease. To please them. It has been easier. Or that has been my belief. That is what I have told myself. “Just have one tonight it will be easier Susan, blend in, it will create less questions.”
Friends and family have been asking for a few years now “so are you drinking these days or not?”. I feel like they are saying – “you are such a nuisance! Why can’t you be like us! Just drink!” I now realise and accept that is my perception. I don’t know what they are thinking. I have no idea!
I could ask. Do you think that it would be useful to ask? What does it really matter what they think? It is more important that I think. And I can tell you now it is not easier to just have a drink and fit in. It is completely incongruent with who I am. I want to be me. I want to do what I want or I am unhappy.
So this morning I decided to stop pleasing others. I have decided to be myself. I am happier, healthier, more creative and more at ease when I don’t drink. I am myself.
I know that when I was out that I didn’t like those that didn’t drink. I remember at one of my former workplaces one woman didn’t drink and people complained that she always remembered the stupid things that happened. Funny isn’t it. Was that her issue or theirs? I have friends now that do not like going out with people that don’t drink. That is their belief, not mine. It is not mine to hold onto and affect my life.
I am happier, healthier, more creative and more at ease when I don’t drink alcohol. I am myself.
I thought I was more fun when I drank. That I was more interesting, that conversations were better, they flowed more, that I laughed more. Some of that may be true due to lack of inhibitions. At least for the first two drinks. Maybe. The reality though is that I am not completely present when I drink. After a few drinks my mind wanders, I flit around in different conversations, I don’t finish them, I don’t listen properly.
It isn’t easier to please. It is harder. It strips away a piece of you, little by little. Now I am regaining this. I am proud to be independent and not drink. It is a trend, a cultural one, and certainly in Ireland and the UK. I don’t need it, it adds nothing to my life other than draining my energy. So I am choosing to be me. I am choose me.
Those around me are affected in the same and different ways. I see it now and recognise it. After two hours people are taking over each other, voices are getting higher, the same stories are repeated or exaggerated. Am I really more interesting when I drink? Really?