Anti-Social Drinking – I’m an unfriendly drunk


I have a strange relationship with alcohol.

I’m shy and quiet. In a Brady Bunch context I’m much more Jan than Marcia. I don’t really enjoy social interactions. But, for some unfathomable reason, despite my proclivity for solitude, I still feel the need to socialize every once in a while. Whether that’s because of some human biological need or simply because today’s media, and social media, make it seem like if you aren’t surrounded by a big group of friends you aren’t living life, I don’t know. Either way, when the urge to socialize presents itself, I turn to the bottle.

A glass of red wine or two help to warm up my conversational side. After half a bottle of pinot noir I stop worrying that everything that comes out of my mouth is nonsense. A couple of cocktails might see me to the dance floor and keep me blissfully unaware of the awkward way my limbs flail about, slightly out of time with the music. If I ever hit the hard stuff (gin, in my case) I can be inclined to utterly lose my integrity.

It goes like this; a few glasses of something drive my social anxiety away. But a few glasses of something also usher in someone I like to call “Drunk Me”. Drunk Me doesn’t stop after a few glasses, she keeps drinking and drinking and drinking. The consequences are usually embarrassing and almost always lead to a headache.

So what, Sober Me doesn’t like the Kardashians? Drunk Me has found a group of impossibly well-groomed girls who look like they’re all about having a good time. They’re propping up this bar that serves brightly coloured drinks that all taste like sherbet. They love the Kardashians, in fact, they might be Kardashian-Jenner super fans. Drunk Me suddenly develops a deep love for the Kardashian universe and even squeezes out a hysterical tear when she tells her glossy new friends that, “Khloe’s weight loss just really inspired me, huns.”


Drunk Me won’t stop there, either. You like Love Island? So does Drunk Me. You only listen to Ed Sheeran? Drunk Me thinks that’s a spectacular idea (despite once declaring Ed Sheeran, “the worst thing ever, literally please take a hammer to my head rather than playing his record.”) You’re vegan? Here, hold my bacon, because Drunk Me is now vegan too.

Sober me is strictly monogamous and super loyal. She holds all her friends up to her own moral standards, because who wants to be friends with cheats and flakes and liars? Not Sober Me. But Drunk Me, whilst she would never cheat on anyone (just like she’d never murder anyone, she’s drunk guys, not a nut job) has no issue whatsoever with her friends cheating or lying. Drunk Me would happily listen to the details of a friend’s affair with as much enthusiasm as if she were listening to a recap of her favourite box set. Drunk Me would have no qualms facilitating an illicit rendezvous. She condones the kind of behaviour that Sober Me despairs over. Just like Andrea, the drunk psychiatrist on Kimmy Schmidt.

When I’m sober I’m private and withholding. Sober Me chooses to share her most intimate thoughts with only those closest to her. Even then she draws the line at her most secret secrets, “some things are for me to know and no one else,” she reasons. Drunk Me has no barriers and no social decorum. She’ll share and overshare whether the timing is appropriate or not.

I drink to cope with the anxiety that socializing places my introverted self under. But drinking doesn’t make me a friendlier person. Sure, after the first few sips of a crisp gin and tonic my confidence is artificially boosted and I become more smiley. Eventually, though, it turns me into a liar in the pursuit of acceptance. A liar for a good (if slightly pathetic) reason is still a liar at the end of the day. Alcohol makes me dismiss the values I consider important in order to feel more involved with people who don’t consider those values important whether they’re drunk or sober. Drink unleashes in me a self-centred child who must have attention at all costs.

Oh, it’s your birthday party? Let me be a complete downer by spilling all my sad secrets. Not because I want to share these with someone, in fact my sober self has already decided to keep this quiet, but because right now I want everyone to look at me and say, “aw”.

But Sober Me is a good person! Yes, a little shy, a touch reserved. People don’t count on me to be the life and soul of the party. But I’m kind, for the most part considerate and I’m honest to myself and the people I know.

Drunk Me might be louder, more dynamic and armed with enough temporary confidence to dance on a table, but she’s a bad friend. And the person she’s the worst to is Sober Me.

Perhaps it’s time I hung up my wine glass for good?

5 Embarrassing Things That Keep Me Awake At Night


I’m sure we all have a list of embarrassing moments that we replay in our heads instead of sleeping.

My own list of embarrassing, insomnia-inducing moments is a mixture of stalwart classics (see #3) and a few ever-changing elements that I tend to replace in my cringe hierarchy rather quickly.

Without further ado, here’s what’s keeping me up at night:

1) When I tripped up in front of a long queue of traffic last week.
I was wearing new shoes. I tried to tell myself no one saw. EVERYONE saw.

2) In university my tutor returned one of my essays with the comment, “I can only assume you did not mean to submit this.”
He thought it was a draft! It wasn’t a draft!

3) When I wet myself in front of my entire class in primary school.
Pretty sure I will still be blushing about this when I’m dead.

4) When my friend complimented my other friend’s shoes but I assumed she was complimenting my shoes.
My shoes were new, and a bargain, and I was very proud. “Thanks!” I bellowed confidently, “they were in the sale.”
My friends paused momentarily to look at me with disgust and then continued to discuss the shoes the compliment was intended for.

5) The time I lied my way through a job interview for a craft magazine.
The interviewer asked me about what crafts I enjoyed and instead of being honest, I spouted a load of bullshit about paper crafts. The interviewer pressed me for details and rather than back down I carried on talking about scrap-booking (or, what I assumed scrap-booking was).
I did not get the job. Are you surprised?

So embarrassing, I’m blushing just typing this out.

What’s keeping you up at the moment? Let me know in the comments below, or get in touch via hello@terriblypersonal.com.

Why do I always lie to taxi drivers?


I stand out on the street in the 6am quiet. My lower back rests on the pointed wall that boarders my tiny, graveled garden. Through the pastel mist of morning light I watch the sheep in their field opposite making small movements. Some shake their black heads as though they’re waking themselves up, some stretch their necks to reach a few tantalizing blades of grass, one ripples the muscles along its back in response to an annoying itch.

Now I turn to look down the road. It climbs, steep and grey, towards town. Down dips, up hills, and juts left and right around Z bends which are banked on either side with stone walls, fencing off more fields. To my right, immediately next door to my house, is the graveyard where the quietest neighbours I’ve ever had reside. That’s all that’s here; the sheep, the graveyard and me. The sheep, the graveyard and me.

Far off I hear a low rumble. A tractor, maybe. But as the sound builds I realise it’s heading for me. Moments later a grey taxi skirts the hill, up past the graveyard and slows to a stop at my feet. The door opens with a click and with it I invent a million possibilities of who I might be today.

You see, for all the bends and dips and hills that make up the long road to town, there isn’t one single stretch of pavement. “Who’d need such a thing?” a man from the council with glasses and a love of egg sandwiches might have asked. And who indeed? The sheep don’t need a pavement. The dead certainly do not need a pavement. “Surely, anyone in their right mind who decided to live smack bang in the centre of nowhere would be able to drive?” The man from the council, who’s job it is to decide where pavements go, might ask again. And he’d be right. Except in this case he is wrong.

So here I am, every morning, waiting with the sheep and the dead for my taxi. Every morning the taxi arrives and the drivers ask me a variation of these three questions:
Where are you going?
What are you doing there?
Why did you choose to live in the wilderness when you cannot drive?

At first I told the truth. I’m not naturally dishonest. But the truth began to embarrass me. My job felt boring, my inability to drive made me groan inwardly each time a driver commented on it, my life felt small.

So I began to embellish.

“I actually have my driving test in two weeks,” I blurted defensively once. The cabby wished me luck, “I won’t be seeing you again then!” He called cheerfully as I paid and got out. Then it became, “the car’s in the garage.” I liked that one, taxi drivers were always interested in that and I made up all sorts of mechanical ailments to satisfy their need for more information. “My boyfriend works away and needs the car,” became another favourite and made me feel important as it tripped effortlessly off my tongue.

I never manufactured these tales, I didn’t think about how they would make me come across. I wasn’t trying to create a persona. They truly just came out, ready formed, with lives and narratives of their own. They were instant reactions, like screaming “ow,” when you bang your elbow.

“Ow, that question makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“Ow, I can’t drive. Still.”
“Ow, no I don’t have a proper job.”
“Ow, you’re inadvertently making me question my own self worth.”

Once, I clambered out of a taxi after an extremely detailed account of a weekend in Kendal that had never occurred. I claimed I drove there (which I can’t do) and I went with my husband (who does not exist – though I do have a long term boyfriend and at the time felt narratively that ‘husband’ suited the lie better). At the end of this encounter I actually wondered if I was, in fact, a psychopath.

“Why do I always lie to taxi drivers?” I asked myself. Baffled. Easily as baffled as you are reading this.

But it was only taxi drivers, I assured myself. It wasn’t as though I was lying to people who actually knew me. I wasn’t living a lie, not outside of a car, anyway.

I was avoiding small talk, something that cut my introverted soul like a rusty knife. A fifteen minute taxi ride is not long enough to do your life justice, and it’s also not the arena to attempt it. I don’t have time to explain to my driver why I have such a shitty job at the moment, or why I live deep in the countryside away from people – and nor does he want me to! For me, giving the short version, the version without explanation feels like laying myself out to judgement. Truth told, I know the cabby does not care about my shitty job, my isolated life, my fundamental inability to drive. They’re just trying to make their job less awkward, they’re trying to put me at ease.

But I’m not at ease with a truthful account of my current life spouted from the back seat of a taxi every morning, to be judged or ignored. it’s like having a long hard look at my naked reflection every morning and the lighting is bad and I haven’t shaved in forever. Whether the cabby cares or not, I do.

So I’m going to continue to lie to taxi drivers and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Hello!

Welcome.

You found me.

But how?

I can only assume that if you’re reading this you’re either my cat or my boyfriend – in which case I’d like to kindly ask you to stop shedding your fur over my clean laundry and do some dishes, please.