A bit ago (I’m deliberately being vague here), I got an invitation for a get-together. My first response was to go, while simultaneously thinking “Well, I’ll better buy myself some water proof mascara, as I will most likely end up crying on the toilet or the bus ride home again, ha ha!” And then I realised what I was actually saying, and how it’s actually not funny at all.
My ability to laugh at myself and/or difficult and painful things in my life, has gotten me through a lot. My ability to act like I’m fiiine when I’m most definitely not and to “make it look easy for the people” has too. But when it comes to the whole “I go to a party and end up in the toilet, crying on the phone to my mom, then feel awful for two days afterwards”-thing, it’s time I start being honest with myself: I can’t deal with being around people who excessively drink and do drugs.
Although I myself don’t drink and don’t do drugs, I have always thought that I was fine going places where I was surrounded by other people who do. I chalked my feelings of stressed out nervousness up to my special snowflakedom and just told myself to get the f*ck over myself. I mean, people were being nice to me? They included me in their conversations and even confided in me by telling me all their romantic issues, life problems and even their drug dosages? Why then do I feel so upset to the point of crying and why do I feel so utterly, utterly detached from everything?
I realised that that is because I AM detached from the goings on. First, there’s the simple fact that when everybody does A Thing and you don’t, you’re the outsider. See also: being the only person at a party who doesn’t play World of Warcraft. Second: drugs and alcohol change people’s mental states and the way they interact, usually not in a positive way.
There’s the loss of boundaries: while I have never had the heart to be a dick to a seriously intoxicated person spilling their guts to me, I actually don’t want to know about a random stranger’s self-declared “complex romantic misery”, their “you REALLY need to talk to a professional”-level personal problems or how many grams of what drugs they are on and where they got them. I REALLY don’t want or need to know these things. I don’t. Telling them so doesn’t work either, because they are completely in their own world. So I get another iced tea and listen, while thinking: “Woman, you need to get the f*ck away from here”. Yes, I admit I’m not handling this well either.
And then there’s the drooly fake chummy emotions. A former housemate of mine, who is a recovering alcoholic, once called it “alcohol fueled empathy”. It’s the phenomenon where, after [foo] units of alcohol, people who at best hardly know me, start proclaiming how much they loooove me, say that I’m THE BEST EVER, find it necessary to tell me I’m going to do amazing things in the world because I’m so ~awesome~, assure me that we’re going to be Best Friends Forever, then, completely out of the blue, proceed to hug me and pat me on the head like I’m their pet or something, while not even remembering doing any of it the next day. Hell, they don’t even remember me. Explaining why all of this gets to me would take a book, so I’m not going to, but fact is that it gets to me. It really, really gets to me.
I know that the whole self-care thing is getting a lot of flak nowadays, mostly because some people use it as an excuse to be irresponsible, but I do believe it’s important. As a child raised on Oprah, I do believe that you need to take care of yourself first. Which is why I have decided that I’m staying away from parties, (university) drinks and other occasions where I know I’ll be the only sober one in a group of heavily intoxicated people. Although I am relieved that I don’t have to keep forcing myself to attend these types of functions, I am also curious-in-a-scared-way how it will work out for me, social/life/”networking” wise. To be continued at some point.