The Story So Far – Chapter 24 – No Sleep ‘Til Christmas

CHAPTER 24 – NO SLEEP ‘TIL CHRISTMAS

The only problem with December is it brings with it the dark side of the Christmas festivities, well I guess the dark side of my Christmas was to drink more than I usually would during the rest of the year.  Who needs an excuse to drink at Christmas, it’s almost like it a ritual that goes with the holiday.  Certainly even before when I worked pretty much full time for the Architects, we would close over the Christmas period and when we were doing well I would get a bonus before we broke up.

Although I used that to get the kids and Victoria presents for Christmas, it would also allow me to pretty much fill the house with booze.  We didn’t usually get many visitors, so I wouldn’t really buy for anyone else, all for my own consumption and off course there were the bottles of wine I would buy in specially for Christmas day.  When I was off work over Christmas I would probably start drinking during the day and then carry on through the evening too, not at a great pace, not at the pace I eventually was able to drink at, but it was definitely a time to enjoy alcohol.

But since I had had this new job at the merchant’s the concept of Christmas meals was introduced too.  The first year I joined in with the other’s, drank whilst we ate and then ventured around town to the various pubs and carried on drinking, eventually turning to shorts, before going home a little worse for wear.

Although before I liked to drink, I didn’t like the atmosphere of the busy pubs in town, especially over the Christmas period, where things were generally more hectic, people had consumed more alcohol and things were more likely to kick off.  Thankfully that time nothing kicked off, but I guess I didn’t really enjoy the evening, I just took part because I didn’t want to be left out.

The year after that was my first Christmas sober, it was difficult sitting in the restaurant watching everyone around me drink.  Sometimes it’s not the urge to drink that makes it difficult, but when you look and see what people are actually drinking, you’re reminded of how much you actually enjoyed the taste and I guess kind off miss it.  Let’s be honest here, I don’t miss all the side effects and mess that drinking brought me too, but I do sometimes miss the taste.  Even when I see adverts on TV I sometimes wish I could just taste it again, but I know I can never do that again.  That Christmas I stayed for the meal and then went home alone, I didn’t miss the pub crawl and actually enjoyed watching TV with my Son at home more than the meal anyway.

So now December 2013 was moving on and I was still trying to get my head back to some form of normal, the tablets had by now kicked and I was beginning to feel a degree of normality to my mindset, the drawback still was that I couldn’t sleep at nights and would still spend them watching Christmas movies.  But having said all that I still felt a better person, much better than I had done just a month before.

This Christmas meal was arranged for a pub in town, which also had restaurant facilities, the meals were booked for a Saturday evening and the usual pub crawl would take place afterwards.

The week before someone at work asked me about my drinking, they asked if I felt I could ever drink again and I said no, I couldn’t trust myself if I did, to that the reply was “that’s because you’re weak!”  I was livid, absolutely livid, I tried to laugh it off and walked away, but it was eating away me as I worked, when I walked home it was boiling over, but during the twenty minutes of so it takes me to get home, I started to get over it.

But after that the panic attacks that I had suffered earlier in the year returned, not as severe as back then, but they were uncomfortable, especially coupled with the jittery feelings I was still experiencing.

During the week I began to question whether I really wanted to go, I felt I didn’t, but as it was all booked, I also felt I couldn’t really pull out either.  On the afternoon of the actual meal itself the panic got worse.  I was so undecided as to what to do, one minute I was adamant that I wasn’t going, then I was going, then not, it went on all afternoon.  About forty five minutes before we were due to meet at the pub, I finally made my mind up that I was going, but as before, coming straight home afterwards.

As I generally dislike being late, I was the first to arrive at the pub, so I ordered a coke, stood there looking completely out of place and waited for everyone else, I felt so awkward as I waited.  Thankfully I only had to wait about five minutes, but that was bad enough.  We went upstairs to the restaurant area and sat down for the meal.  I didn’t have to sit near the person who had called me weak, but I did sit opposite her partner.  During the evening we spoke about my not drinking and I explained things to him, he totally understood and commended me for my will not to drink.

Despite all of that, I still felt out of place and that I just didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.  Then when the conversation around me turned to first politics and then religion, I felt an even stronger desire to get out of there, there’s one guy at work who definitely likes the sound of his own voice and won’t listen to anybody else’s opinions, he will just continue to force his and try to provoke a reaction that he can argue against, it’s was getting a bit like that and in the end I just sat there, talking to no one and hoping that everyone would just finish eating and talking, so they would all leave to go continue drinking and I could just go home.

Eventually their conversations came to a close, everyone had finished eating and the consensus amongst them all was to move on to another pub, that was my cue, thank you all for “a pleasant evening”, but I’m going home and I’ll see you all Monday.

I was so glad when I left the place, I didn’t want to go in the first place, I knew why and everything was pretty much just as I thought it would be, bloody hard work!  As I walked home I resolved that that would be the last time I went to the work’s Christmas meal, I wasn’t going next year, wherever my head was next year, no doubt it would be in a better place, but I still wasn’t going to subject myself to all that again, if I didn’t feel comfortable, what’s the point in being there.

I made that decision that night, but I didn’t tell anyone about it until a year later when the discussions about the Christmas meal came around again.

BATTLE FOR PEACE by LUMINATE
There’s a trench in the floor
From my knees, from my knees
I’ve prayed for years, I’ve wanted more
Down on my knees, on my knees

And I have lost my voice
Crying out, crying out
Until I hear You speak
I’m crying out, I’m crying out

I will fall down, I will fall down
I will fall down, at Your feet
And all this time, I was blind
I couldn’t see, I couldn’t see
That Your love, is never earned
Oh, it’s free, it’s free

What am I fighting for
Is it for peace, is it for peace
How can I stop this war
Inside of me, inside of me
I will fall down, I will fall down
I will fall down, at Your feet
I’m trading this battle for peace
I’m trading this battle for peace

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