Today has been one of those days where my mood lifts but only for a short period at a time, much like the periods during which I managed to find a live stream of the United match the highs are short lived and unsatisfyingly fuzzy. I blame the dress; although it is gorgeous; a mac design by Topshop which has to be pinned together at the bottom to stop any Cheryl Cole esq front rump, (yes I know she is having a hard time but really why did this mean we had to see so much of her) but even still I am not a fan. It is partly because I feel I look too healthy to be wearing it, the last time I wore it I was decidedly more slender. The other reason is that wearing it reminds me of a bad decision I once made in it when I had too much to drink and trusted someone to look after me who was a friend, but isn’t any longer.
The details are unnecessary but it is foolish decisions like this and my tendency to feel low for days after if I have had too much that has led me to want to give the booze a rest during lent. I am not giving it up as such, I find that as soon as I give something up it is all I can think about so I am going to treat alcohol in much the same way as I did cigarettes. I’m not giving up, I’m just not having it at the moment. This way I don’t put myself under too much pressure and if I fancy a glass of wine one night or am out for a friend’s birthday I wont feel the need to be a total kill-joy. I just feel I need to get back to the point when I have a limit on what I can drink which I know suits me and which I can stick to. .
The last time I tried to give alcohol up for lent I was in an incredibly intense but simultaneously extremely destructive relationship. I was utterly in love with the guy, not at first but he wore me down and eventually I let myself go to him. Unfortunately when I met him I had just recovered from my first episode of depression and having left my first boyfriend I was vulnerable and although the euphoria of falling in love at first kept the lows at bay, once they returned he couldn’t cope especially when I drank to try to get me back to what everyone expected me to be, fun.
To be fair to him he was younger than me by a year and prior to meeting me was widely known as a man who played the field. It was inevitable that something so intense would end in tears, and it did when he got with someone else whilst I was back at home trying to put myself back together. I had sunk too low and he wanted to be with the girl I was when we had first got together, I tried desperately to get her back but with being away from home and a doctor that was keeping an eye on my moods I couldn’t lift myself and so understandably he went elsewhere.
What was so strange is that when I decided to knock the booze on the head for lent he brought me a shot of vodka and placed it in front of me. I don’t know why, perhaps he too hoped the drink would cheer me up and it did if only for a time. After things fell apart, as all destructive relationships do, I was left a sad little soul and it wasn’t until a year later that I really began to recover from our affair. Eventually I got my drinking back under control, I learned what my limits were and avoided drinks that had a tendency to send me tearful and other times just chose not to drink.
The one person who helped me throughout this period was a boy I lived with in my flat in the halls I was President of at the time. He was a muslim who was enjoying his first taste of freedom, loved getting down to R&B as I did and cooked the nicest curry I have ever had in my life. He also shared my insomnia patterns and so we would stay up watching Godfather together and playing silly computer games and pranks. He kept an eye on me and never let me unravel too far and even put up with my pathetic tears. If it wasn’t for him I think I had the potential at the time to fall into full-blown alcoholism simply to escape the hurt and sadness which had as much to do with my mental health at the time as it did with the humiliation of being publicly betrayed.
What my friend taught me which was extremely important at the time was first and foremost to hang on; that I needed to get my confidence back because I was a good person I just couldn’t see it. The other was why it is that we give stuff up during lent and the importance of sharing ones wealth for one’s happiness. During Ramadan I joined with him in his fast, unfortunately I only lasted two days because of my delicate disposition, my low blood pressure and my tendency to faint if I stand for too long. What the experience and my friend taught me is that we give things up to recognise how much we have available to us. although for me it is essentially a religous tradition it is equally a chance for me to reflect and be grateful on all I have.
He also told me about how it is the done thing in the muslim world (and forgive me seriously if I am getting this wrong I am happy to be corrected but this is what I remember) to give 10% of ones earnings to the poor. I always thought it was such a brilliant idea as if we are lucky enough to have money why not share it. Even when I’ve had jobs that paid I’ve always been struck with how much I have compared to how much I need. The boy told me I was crazy when I suggested this to him as he pointed out that tax means I don’t need to give it away as someone will do it for me but it is a nice idea and I hope i will one day get paid again so I can carry it through.
For the meanwhile though this will essentially be my last day of chocolate and sweets. Also because I want to make sure I can and because I am concerned about what the latest drugs may be doing to my liver this glass herein pictured will be my last glass of wine for 40 days and 40 nights, I’m gutted it isn’t bordeaux.