Last night I went to a Pre-Valentine's-Day-Singles-Mixer.
Yes, it was just as bad as you'd think it would be.
We expected as much, honestly. We went in with the understanding we were there to just have fun, eat food, have some drinks, and socialize. But somehow I got to a breaking point, and I didn't see it coming.
Of course, it was pretty much all women. They were all gorgeous, and all around my age. Two guys showed up - one that was so desperate you could feel it in the way he leaned in (even when a back was facing him), and the other was our friend Matt (who was in cute-single-girl heaven).
We still had fun getting caught up, although it was a juggling act trying to avoid the desperate guy's conversation (he was hovering and ready to attack at any turn). He was a perfectly nice person, I just didn't feel the desire to force small-talk with him. Also, the first thing he said to me and my friends when we introduced ourselves was: "I'm terrible at names, I won't remember any of this."
Now, I know names are difficult to remember, but nothing rubs me the wrong way more than that phrase. I know it's usually just a joke people make when they are in an uncomfortable situation (such as meeting new people). But I don't think people think about what they're saying anymore. I mean, you're kind of saying: "I know I just met you, but I'm not even going to try and remember your name, because I don't care to make the effort." I'd rather someone try to remember my name and guess it wrong rather than say something like that.
But I'm getting off track.
We had a fun time for a little while, but as the evening wore on I soberly realized how sad the whole thing was. I couldn't use a stiff drink to dull the fact that there were 30 young, single, beautiful women sitting around with the hope that "Mr Right" would walk in at any moment. I looked at all these women, and I looked at the I-won't-remember-your-name guy, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to leave.
Well, not just leave - I had to get out of there NOW.
Thankfully, a friend in my group saw my desperation to hightail it out of there and followed suit. We talked on the way back to the car about how awful that whole thing was, and laughed about the way I kind of freaked.
I knew not drinking in social situations would be difficult from time to time. But I actually thought to myself before the start of the night, "Hey, I'm doing great! I don't even feel like I NEED a drink anymore!" in a naive way. It wasn't so much that I needed a drink in that situation, but that I needed to figure out a different way to deal with it rather than ignoring it by drinking - and I haven't really nailed that down quite yet (illustrated perfectly by the fact that I practically knocked over the chair I was pulling my coat from while trying to make a frantic exit).
My point is: I have come a long way in a month, but I've still got a ways to go. I am realizing that although I didn't think of myself as a crazy drinker, or someone I'd think of as an addict - there are ways I depended on alcohol that I didn't think of before. It's something I used in celebration, but also in dulling my feelings. Having the stark realization that you're feeling strong emotions in a place where you wouldn't normally feel anything (ie. a bar), can be pretty scary.
So I move on to my next-night-out without a false sense of confidence, but the feeling that it might be tough. That I'll need to trust that I'm strong enough to handle those scary emotion-thingies without booze. That I can still have fun, but instead of ignoring those feelings I can acknowledge them and move on.
Ugggghhh... being a grown-up is HARD.