Being sober while living on a university campus isn’t easy. It’s been just under a week since my humiliating Saturday night triggered the decision to not drink anymore, and last night was our end of exams final bar night for the year. My first challenge.
Physically, not drinking was an extraordinary improvement. There was none of the nausea or sticky mouth taste, and best of all, I didn’t need to pee every five minutes. I didn’t feel bloated or out of control. It was wonderful. I was able to keep my emotions in check which I can’t do when drunk.
The real challenge was dealing with the social side of things i.e. the fact that everyone else around me was drinking and drinking heavily. This wasn’t an ordinary night out- this was the last big uni party of the year, the last hurrah before everyone moved out of college the next day. Exams were over and our noise curfew had been lifted, emotions were running high and everyone was looking to see out the year with a bang. Imagine being the only person not drinking in an atmosphere like that. I’m lucky I have such good friends, but it was a bizarre experience to watch everyone else dissolve into bubbling, out of control versions of themselves, trying to speak to them like normal and realising you couldn’t.
The party itself turned out to be everything I hate. Loud, crowded, and full of creeps. Two of my friends had been drinking for a solid six hours before we even left our dorm to head to the bar. I wasn’t in a great mood, due to one of my ‘friends’ acting like a massive creep and two friends of a friend who I somewhat dislike tagging along. Drunk people aren’t that fun to be around, especially when you can’t hear each other and you’re being knocked into on all sides by people hooking up or trying to cop a feel.
Which leads me to the point of the night that made me realise how happy I was to be sober and more to the point, to realise how absolutely fucking over the whole event I was. I’ve been felt up before, in clubs, on crowded dance floors, and always been so completely off my face wasted that I either didn’t care or, and I cringe and hate myself as I admit this, but even liked it. Last night I was dancing with my friend, as as we pushed through the crowd to get off the dance floor to go to the bar, some guy who I do not know, who does not know me, who I’ve never seen before and will never see again, took it upon himself to have a feel of my cunt and my ass. I was wearing a pretty short skirt and am still thanking my lucky stars that he didn’t manage to get his hand up underneath, but never in my life have I ever felt so utterly disgusted and violated.
And I was horrified by the realisation that if I had been drunk when it happened, I wouldn’t have felt that way. I probably wouldn’t have felt anything, just accepted it. Or worse, been pleased by the attention! But it isn’t attention at all. It has nothing at all to do with me. That guy didn’t see me as a human being, just a thing to be touched for his own amusement. Ugh. I feel gross just thinking about it. You may accuse me of over reacting, but everything about that moment felt so completely wrong and pervasive.
And please understand that it’s not even the fact that he touched me that I’m so horrified by. I’m more horrified by the fact that drunk me wouldn’t have cared, whilst sober me was 100% aware of how completely wrong it felt.
At the time, part of me wished I had been drunk so I wouldn’t have cared. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. But I’m glad now, in hindsight. That overwhelming realisation of how wrong it was and how bad I felt proved one thing at least: my self worth is more valuable then any drink could ever be. That same self-worth goes out the window when I’m drunk, and that’s not good. I’m not a more relaxed, less inhibited person when I’m drunk. I’m a mess who can’t feel good about herself who considers perversion as affection, as approval and affirmation that acting slutty and stupid is what I need to do in order to be valued.
It’s a hard lesson to truly appreciate and come to terms with, but a valuable one. And it’s affirmed further my resolve to no longer be a person who drinks. I’m absolutely not saying that this applies to everyone. I know plenty of intense drinkers who can shrug it off without a hangover and keep themselves composed when under the influence, but I am not one of those people. I’m not built like that. I never was and never will be. I tried to be, because especially living where I am, at the age that I am at, it makes life a lot easier. But it just isn’t right for me, and that’s that.