Hola Sober OCTOBER

by Beth MT

We’ve been friends since I was 15 years old, which is really quite strange because when I was younger, I detested you, even the smell of you made me feel sick. I had to work really hard to fall in love with you, but who doesn’t love a challenge, so fall in love with you I did. We were together for years, weren’t we? In many and various guises. Remember when you took the form of Brown Ale because I was one of the indie crowd and I wanted to look cool? I am not going to lie, I really wasn’t that keen on you then and in fact you made me sick a lot, but you got me drunk fast and my parents were suitably horrified. Even then you weren’t a nice friend, were you? You pretended to be around to help when my Mum died. I was only 17 then, but in fact you were just numbing me weren’t you? Making people talk about how strong I was, but I wasn’t was I? You were teaching me a trick I would carry for years, you taught me how to numb emotions, you made me forget, you taught me how to hide.

You stepped it up a notch when I went off to university. You changed your guise to Lager, and why wouldn’t you? It was the nineties, we were all ‘ladettes’ and we could and would drink like men, so pints it was! I started seeing you every day, and we had never had that intense relationship before had we? But we were a new team. You got me the nickname ‘party-girl’ in freshers week with all of the other students, after my ‘funny and crazy’ escapades. Oh what a team we were when we were together, we were hilarious, everyone said so! We fell out a bit though, didn’t we, at university? We were starting to make silly decisions when we were together. You kept reminding me I had no Mum, you made me cry and made me sad on ‘fun’ nights out. by Beth MT You were also becoming very manipulative, making me do things I would never do when you weren’t around. You convinced me that cheating on my lovely boyfriend was a good idea. I ended that relationship rather than deal with what we had done, and I was devastated for years about it. Oh, and shall we talk about the graduation ball, the ball that I spent months planning for, the beautiful dress, the nails, the hair. Seeing all of my lovely friends again, the excitement!! What did we do that night, friend? Well, we have no idea now, do we? Because we spent so much time together before we even got there that I can’t remember anything other than drinking vodka out of a bottle under the table at the very start and then waking up the next morning at a friend’s house having no idea where I was. I met a friend years later at a reunion and she described me as ‘just gone’ at that point.

We moved miles away from home mostly for work but also to start again. We could start anew, and no-one would know what we had got up to together. We could build a healthier relationship, I mean obviously we would stay together, you were still my best friend. It was lonely at first, but you convinced me that you and I could have lots of time alone in my room, quality time where no-one would see us. It was more comfortable that way. I didn’t see you during the day or on weeknights often. But on weekends, how we kept each other company on those lonely nights. We did start socialising again and eventually I met a man who I married. And then when I became pregnant, we weren’t friends anymore. There was no risk of me being with you when I had a life I cared about inside of me. I lost weight and after the initial months I was so happy. I used to have the odd dream that you were back in my life and would wake up so relieved that it was just a dream. But you came back with a vengeance once the baby was here and I was no longer breast-feeding. I was lonely and shy, I didn’t see anyone, I had no support. My husband was out or away a lot and you were there for me again. You would help me through the lonely nights and give me something to look forward to. Sometimes we were funny, remember me calling the radio chat show in the North-east to talk about ghosts, and then worrying that my Nana had heard as she listened to the show? But mostly you were there to relieve the boredom and loneliness. I believed that you were helping me, but you really weren’t. I piled weight on, I was sad, I was feeling more and more alone but you wouldn’t help me, and you wouldn’t leave me alone.

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