My Year of Binchy – Week 8: Surprisingly Progressive Drinking Thoughts

It is so important for me to read things and watch things where people are kind to each other. That is something big this experiment is teaching me.

Thursday, February 22
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Kev”
  • Location: Front porch, pre- and post-twinkle lights
  • Smoking: Gorilla something or other
  • Playlist: “The Americans” Official Playlist
  • Did I cry?
    • Almost, when I realized how much easier my life would have been had I been taught to communicate properly, able to explain things without blame or punishment, but instead straightforward and matter of fact. I think I spent so much time blaming myself for things in my brain because I had this voice telling me, ‘someone is to blame! someone has to be!’. But the reality is, naw dawg. Someone doesn’t. Sometimes things just happen – you deal with them and move on. My childhood and adult life was so blame focused. I’m glad that cloud has cleared, I just wish it would have cleared earlier.

Kev’s chapter has me pondering this, to start: what is the real world to anyone? Not the reality show on MTV, obviously, but, like… my ‘real world’ is different from your ‘real world’. Hell, my ‘real world’ is different from Mickey’s ‘real world’ and we live in the same house!

Look, I know I just typed the word ‘real world’ over and over again until it became meaningless, but that’s what it is, kind of? You will never truly understand or realize the true meaning of my ‘real world’. Nor will I of anyone else’s. It’s something one can’t experience for themselves unless they literally experience it for themselves. You know, like living in the same body and doing the exact same things. Even twins’ ‘real worlds’ differ from each other.

Does this make sense? Like, sure, I can do the same thing with the same people, who are damn same similar to me. But we have unique experiences. I can point out parts of my experience to share with them, but they will never truly experience it or understand it the exact same way I would.

As a neurodivergent human, there are times where I really push for people to understand or experience things the exact same way I do. That’s not fair to them, because it’s an impossible task. All I can do is learn about their way of seeing their world, accept it and celebrate the parts that make me happy.

Another lesson from good old Kev’s chapter – being nice goes a long way. Kev ended up in an unlawful situation that has him running home to Rathdoon at the weekends so that can feel safe. How did he end up here, you might ask? Well, a stranger was nice to him on his birthday.

If I think about this too deeply it really screws with my brain. When folks fake being nice in order to get you to do something for them, not only does my brain question every single instance of people being nice to me, but it also convinces me that every single person I do something nice for is also questioning my motives.

For a long while there, I let that keep me from doing nice things. But then I was reminded (over and over again) that I can’t control other people’s narratives of me. If they question my motives for being nice, well then, maybe they should look a bit deeper into their own motives for being nice.

I also have to remind my annoying brain that the scenes and scenarios presented in media represent only a very small percentage of actual real life. There are more nice-os than there are meanies. At least that’s how I’m approaching it.

I’ll take your niceness at face value, until it is presented otherwise. Then, I’ll just peace out. Luckily, I am very patient in this regard. I can see the seeds of good deep down and give many benefits of many doubts. So, just be nice okay.

If you want something from me, just ask. You don’t have to manipulate me into anything by being fake – I’m autistic and I can see right through it. I have an authenticity sensor. It came standard with my brain.

Friday, February 23
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Rupert”
  • Location: Front porch, pre-twinkles, 37 degrees
  • Smoking: Some kind of berry thing
  • Playlist: Succession Party
  • Did I cry? At the beginning and at the end of the chapter.

I had to come inside to write this one, because it got too chilly for my little fingers to type outside.

This chapter upended all my thoughts about Maeve being progressive in any way. I’m so glad this book was at the beginning of this journey. I think it was important for me to unlearn that dumb thought my brain had that Maeve Binchy wasn’t progressive.

She is and this book is proving it: drugs, mental health, lgbtq+ issues. This is the Stefon of books.

It has everything.

Saturday, February 24
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Celia”
  • Location: Front room, I haven’t been able to get warm today, so I ain’t even attempting the outside
  • Smoking: not a dang thing
  • Playlist: “The Americans” Official Playlist
  • Did I cry?

We had a Detroit shout out, y’all! One of Celia’s brothers moved over there so woohoo for that. Celia is the daughter of the bar owner in Rathdoon. She goes back to serve on the weekend… My guess is for romantically reasons.

Let’s see.

Okay, so a few chapters ago, I was going on and on about how non-judgemental the small town Rathdoon folk are. Welp, that does not seen to extend to folks who are drinky.

You know what? I myself was drinky for a whole big part of my life. Too drinky and looking back I see how it has affected my life. When I was growing up, I rebelled against my mom by not drinking for a long time.

I didn’t even drink on my 21st birthday. But then something happened – I figured out that people liked me when I was a little bit drunk. I didn’t feel all awkward and self conscious. I didn’t spend interminable minutes turning over how I would contribute to the current conversation. I just jumped in, while the topic was still going on.

Sober, I’d miss the topic window 99% of the time.

It felt so good to be accepted, so I kept doing it. Then I found myself in a group of friends who used booze as a bonding agent.

It worked. We all bonded. I’m living with one in a whole other state, in fact. Some of the others are people I’ve called friends for over 20 years.

Some have fallen by the wayside and some have moved to the fringes, but that’s to be expected when a friendship is built on something as tenuous as drinking. Sure, some of the friendships deepened from that start off point; those are the ones I’ve cherished most.

During the early days of the pandemic, we all felt kind of lost, right? Well, one of the places I went searching for answers was in a bottle. It was easy. And consistent. And familiar in a time where very little felt familiar.

Until I started really paying attention to how I felt the next day. See? I have never gotten a traditional hangover – no headache or vomiting or general malaise the day following a bender.

That isn’t entirely true though – I think I got emotional hangovers. The day after drinking to excess, my body would go into fight or flight mode at the drop of a hat. My fight or flight response is freeze or fawn, so it doesn’t look like much to an outsider. This doesn’t even cover the endless mental loops I’d go through dissecting the things I said or did while I was drinking.

Yes, it made it easier to socialize, but it also made it easier to ignore my own boundaries and I didn’t want to see or give credence to that.

When I stopped drinking to excess, I noticed a huge difference in my mental state. And it really scared me to think about all the days I thought I was fine after a night of drinking, because I could function for work, or as a parent, or on a podcast, or during an event.

I was not, though. I wasn’t present. I was lost in thoughts after an uncontrollable night and that wasn’t fair to anyone. Least of all me.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love a good cocktail and a good beer. I love even more introducing people to the wild and wonderful world of booze flavors.

During one of the very first Ferndale Fridays I had with KPerks, we went to an Italian restaurant to get some arancini and incredible bread. They also had an unusual glass of wine on the menu, so I ordered it. The first sip delighted me because it removed all the moisture out of my mouth immediately. It was the definition of dry.

I offered KPerks a sip and she sipped it, and, if I could remember faces, hers would be burned into my brain for my entire life. In that moment, I was able to offer her a “first” experience as all the moisture was wicked out of her mouth and there is little feeling better that that discovery feeling for me.

Luckily, I can remember feelings real easy. I wish I could taste all the boozes and wines and beers and Fernet Brancas, but not let them affect my brain space.

I guess that is an easy way for me to say that I have little to no interest in getting or being drunk anymore… only exploring new flavors.

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