I live next door to a high end venue that holds comedy nights every couple of months or so. This ‘Studio’ also doubles up as an expensive air B & B.
At the moment I’m trying to make an effort to connect with things happening in my community, so when I was invited to attend to last night’s gig gratis I went despite the fact that I didn’t want to. What I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch the concluding episode of The Night Stalker starring Martin Clunes on ITV.
Just a brief digression: as a young girl Martin Clunes was my first crush. He used to act in a TV series called Butterflies. I wrote him a fan letter, I think I wanted to meet him, but I never got a reply.
But instead of my usual program of crime TV I went to the comedy evening next door.
I had never seen the full extent of next door’s garden, and it was lovely. Lots of trees overhanging with small white bulbs, canopies (it didn’t rain), large umbrellas and a small bar in a shed. I sat on a cushion on a wall.
I thought the gig started at 7.30, which is the time my neighbour told me to show up. But in fact it didn’t get going until 8.00, so I had to sit on my own for half an hour without anything to do or someone to talk to. It wasn’t especially easy to not feel self conscious, or aware that I was one of the very few people there who wasn’t drinking. But I’ve had a good 25 years of not drinking (though not continuous sobriety) so I felt OK, just a bit awkward. It was easy to tell myself that This Too Shall Pass. Eventually things got going.
It was nice to be out in the evening where people were dressed up (or not) and ostensibly ‘having fun’. It made me feel rather sad at first that this is such a rare experience for me nowadays. Especially since I have been single. Even going out in the evenings is really out of the ordinary. I was not expecting to feel like that, even though sometimes, even often, I do feel that things in my life are a bit sad.
For so much of my adult life mostly I have just gone to meetings. Not to say I never went out, but it was rather unusual for me. Poetry readings, writers talks, films, gigs. I think the last time I really had fun was David Byrne’s Meltdown Festival about four or so years ago.
When I was younger, and drinking, I was always going out. Parties, pubs, bars, restaurants, sometimes gallery openings, dinner parties, marches, gigs. I rarely stayed in and watched TV. When I first joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and for many years, I just went to meetings and out for coffee, so I didn’t drink. When I relapsed I went out at night again.
For the last (nearly) 20 years I really haven’t had any kind of social life.
Listening to these comics performers I was slightly in awe of their lifetsyles, which they talked about: driving around the country (for not a lot of money) telling their jokes. Dressing up. Standing around socialising. They did drink, maybe they had problems with it, maybe not, but they were living in a way that is so different to me that I was really quite taken aback.
It’s good to do new things, be up for new experiences, as it takes you out of yourself. It was not expecting to realise I have very little fun in my life to that extent. I am very much focussed on Self Improvement, and have been for most of my adult life. And I’m a bit sick of it I realised, sitting there under the trees decorated with lightbulbs.
I had to wonder if my sobriety has really been worth it. I didn’t have any strong urge to drink, but I couldn’t help feeling that my life has been, in many ways, a bit sterile. Very little going out, getting dressed up, meeting new people and having fun. I doubt I would have been having a good time had I not ‘got sober’, but still, I have missed out on certain aspects of life that make a life full.
I know that this is not the case for every sober alcoholic. For years I had a crush on this guy who had a very full social life. Of course, he didn’t have it all sorted, he would not have been in recovery if he had, but he was very different to me. Extroverted, glamorous, successful, popular and really good fun. I hadn’t really put 2 and 2 together on that score before, not to the extent I realised last night. I wanted a relationship with him because I wanted to share his fun sense of being alive. I wanted to have fun myself.
One of the comics last night made a joke about Hiut jeans. She had previously been a journalist and gone to the factory to interview them. She simply couldn’t believe how expensive they were. She talked about the awful prospect of gaining weight after spending two hundred pounds on a pair of jeans — exactly what has happened to me. Recently I wrote a blog and went on and on about my addiction to buying expensive clothes that are way out of my league.
I felt so embarrassed about this, during her set. I thought: what kind of life do I live that I obsess over something so meaningless as having designer jeans? I felt shallow, empty and pathetic. I felt stupid. I felt like a mug.
Eventually I got home, to watch the final instalment of The Night Stalker — a very grim true story. A horrifying story. And I had plenty of food for thought.