Sunday, Mothers Day. Today, we hosted my husbands Nana’s 90th birthday party at ours, the whole extended clan was there. It was chaotic, noisy, the booze was free-flowing, and I was sober.
I’ve discovered that I have a few quirks. I don’t like noise coming from too many different directions, and I have a massive dislike for people standing too close to my personal space. With this crowd, I was totally screwed. Apparently, drinking numbs my brain enough to cope with noisy family gatherings.
Initially, when people started cracking open their beers I felt left out, so I tried an alcohol-free beer I’d purchased especially for the occasion. It tasted like cats piss, so I switched to Lindau sparkling grape juice (29cals a serve), which was better, and it felt good to hold a glass in my hands. And guess what, my Mother in Law and Aunty in Law both drank my grape juice, they didn’t want champers…..huh, go figure, why the hell did they not want champagne??????
I’ll be honest; when I’m drinking in these family situations I’m usually bubbly, busy and happy, this afternoon I felt awkward sober, almost like I was watching people from the outside, looking in.
Now I love my brother in law, but man he was born to give people shit, it’s his master skill, and it’s what many Kiwis love to do, tease.
He spotted I wasn’t drinking, and I knew I was done for.
Fuck he did not stop harping on and on and on, trying to figure out why I wasn’t partaking in messy alcoholic behaviour.
“What’ve you done this time’?
“Come on why are you not drinking”?
“I wanna know what you did?”
“Did you make out with someone else?’
“What never drinking again’?
“If you’re not drinking you cant come to my 40th”.
“You’re boring when you’re sober”
and on and on and on and on and on, he would not stop.
So I blurted “I’ve been getting anxiety and panic attacks.’
The room went silent. For a second all eyes were on me as I went a sparkling grape juice shade of red.
“Well shit now I feel stink, I’m glad you stopped.’ He said.
And then he started right back in again
“Nah you kissed a chick didn’t you”?
“You shat yourself in your sleep”?
and on and on and on, all the while sinking a ton of Coruba and Rum tinnies himself.
Typical Kiwi bloke. I let his teasing wash over me. I know not drinking is a decision I’ve made to put myself, my health and wellbeing first. I could’ve been offended or pissed off, but instead, I just felt a little dumb, I had no good comebacks up my sleeve! All I could think in my head was that I wouldn’t be the sucker with a hangover come Monday morning. I also consider his teasing good practice for situations where someone might put me on the spot one day.
One thing I noticed was My husband’s cousins were now old enough to drive his Aunty home, and she was having a fabulous time getting on the plonk. I thought man, our kids could drive us in a few years, what am I doing???? But then I had a vision of me drunk as a skunk in the back seat of a car that my son was driving….Nah not a good look.
When the extended family had left, and it was just us, (the mother in law and brother and sisters in law) I noticed I started to feel really relaxed and happy, the best I’d felt all day. I’ve been listening to an audiobook called ‘Alcohol Explained’ the author suggests that as human beings we are social people, we get warm oxytocin feelings from being around people and in groups whose company we enjoy. I think I’ve been using alcohol to boost my feelings of confidence and lose shyness, I need to re-train my brain and enjoy the natural good feelings of being around people I love. I also need to find ways of coping with situations that may make me uneasy without using alcohol.
My abstinence paid off in spades come Monday morning.
8 cows escaped from our paddocks because one of the kids at the party left a gate open. I was trying to get the kids fed, and sports gear ready to get out the door when I looked up to spot bovines having a whale of a time chowing down on our garden plants. Herding cattle and children was much more fun without a hangover! I thanked myself a million times over, then text my brother in law to see how he was coping with his hangover.