Token Sober Girl

“Wait until I show you a photo of me at my 21st, you won’t recognise me!” I found myself shouting across the desk at work the other day.

I thrust my phone into a colleagues face, holding up an old Facebook photo of me in my ‘blind-drunk’ days. “Three layers of fake-tan and at least two bottles of wine!” I continue to shout, before remembering open-plan office etiquette and whispering “my body says I’m having fun dancing, but my eyes are saying I’m already in a blackout.”

I’ve found myself doing this lots recently, talking about my past days as though I am a grandmother with a squirming toddler grandchild on my knee “and in my day there was a thing called Bebo and it was very important to pick your ‘other half’ wisely.”

At first I blamed this incessant walking down memory lane on getting older. I’m not old, not yet, but I’m ‘older’.

Old enough to not know who anyone in the current pop charts are, or recognise anyone on the cover of Heat magazine, and starting to feel the pull of the smart jumper section of M&S (“I just want to finally own a jumper that washes well, you know?”)

And then I realised that age has nothing to do with it, but in fact this has all been triggered by my new soberness.

I never realised how much of my identity has been formed from being the token ‘drunk girl’ for all these years. And I never realised that instead of trying to form a new personality trait that made me interesting and fun to be around, without pouring tequila down my throat, I would instead hold on so tight to my past failings.

I need everyone to know that I used to be a big mess, so they don’t think I’m a complete bore now. I need to prove that I used to have no self respect and no awareness of safe levels of toxic chemicals, using whispers of the ‘old me’ as evidence that I did once have a personality.

I point to girls in ridiculous heels who can’t walk straight trying to convince a bouncer to let them in as a bottle of vodka clinks in their handbag, and shout “that used to be me, I promise!”

Because when ‘drinking too much’ was the quirk I leaned on for so many years, and the stories I went straight to when I was under pressure to be interesting all started with “so I was drinking straight gin alone on the bus into town one night…” then who am I without alcohol?

Can I even be interesting without these stories of depravity and unwise decisions that I have built myself upon?

Maybe I should replace alcohol with espressos and my stories can take on new twists of panic attacks and body shakes.

“So I was on my fifteenth espresso and my heart had decided enough was enough…”

I am not longer the drunk girl, the black-out queen, the ‘I can’t remember cycling home last night but I must have because that’s my bike outside’ person.

But I’m coming around to the idea that it’s ok to not be that girl anymore because, honestly, it was getting a bit boring.

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