Today, I made a mistake. Today I took my daily citalopram half an hour before I downed two glasses of merlot. On a normal day, my motion sickness makes avoiding car rides a preferable option, yet today my stomach was playing catch-up and my head was in the Bermuda Triangle. I know, I know: “Z, you lightweight, weren’t you some hard drinking, bartending dickhead?” Yes, of course, perhaps still a dickhead. Now, after a four-hour nap, a hung over dickhead. What would Marcus Aurelius say? Or even Epictetus or Seneca. Being on medication and knowing full well that my biology disagrees with fast moving roller-skates of death, I should have known not to say yes.
“What can I get you? Beer, wine…?” – X
“Wine, please” – Z
“Red or white?” – X
This is where the mistake happened. I’ve not had red wine for nearly two and a half years and the last time ended with a hazy nap under a bay window in the city centre at 2 AM.
“Red, please.” – Z
Some habits need a final reminder to say goodbye to. I am grateful for my hangover because it tells me to avoid wine, full stop. Because ultimately, for time, you could have described me as an alcoholic, perhaps you still can based on how quickly I snapped X’s hand off when he offered me a large one. I get more chatty, “verbal diarrhoea“, Y would say. Is that worth the literal headache? No. Losing of inhibitions so readily: a vice. There’s no balance here. Smooth, casual drinking is different to knowingly getting myself drunk. But maybe there isn’t and I’m fooling myself. Cajoling myself into a false sense of sober security.
“He could throw in mud or dung: in no time the spring will break it down, wash it away, and take no colour from it. How then can you secure an everlasting spring and not a cistern? By keeping yourself at all times intent on freedom – and staying kind, simple and decent.” – Meditations 8.51
I drank every single day for about two years. I indulged in that vice and my soul was numb and I viewed the world through drunk eyes. I burnt out and hit rock bottom, I still have no idea how people liked Ozzy Osbourne managed to do it for so long. The party comes to an end sometime and people go home, achy and gurning. Time to grow up; time to say no when it’s offered.
“Life through life the best way you can. The power to do so is in a man’s own soul, if he is indifferent to things indifferent. And he will be indifferent if he looks at these things both as a whole and analysed into their parts, and remembers that none of them imposes a judgement of itself or forces itself on us. The things themselves are inert: it is we who procreate judgements about them and, as it were, imprint them on our minds – but there is no need for imprinting at all, and any accidental print can immediately be erased. Remember too that our attention to these things can only last a little while, and then life will be at an end. And what anyway, is the difficulty then? If they are in accord with nature, welcome them and you will find them easy. If they are contrary to nature, look for what accords with your own nature and go straight for that, even if it brings you no glory. Anyone can be forgiven for seeking his own proper good.” – Meditations 11.16
Getting over that embarrassment of saying no out of some weird social anxiety is the first step. Today I took a backwards step, but I’ve got forward to go from here. Step forward, sober partner. Remove the judgement, as Marcus would say, hold against the perceived inertia. Save yourself the hangovers, grinding come downs and self-loathing. Right now, in this very moment I can tell you: it’s not worth it.