A Christmas party I’d rather forget

I still cringe when I think about last year’s work party.

It was at a fairly small bar in town, midweek, and people started gathering around 6.30pm. I turned up ready to start drinking on an empty stomach. I knew the bar served very little in the way of food, but there was no way I was going to eat beforehand. Why would you want to slow the alcohol absorption? I wanted to have a nice time and that meant getting drunk. 

I remember buying a round of drinks right at the start. We love buying rounds in the UK. Half way through my first drink, more people arrived and a friend topped up my glass of wine. Then someone I’d bought a drink for got me a drink. Then I started talking to some other people and I must have been gulping my drink because I finished before anyone else was ready to get another round in. Rather than wait for them, I went back to the bar and got a drink for myself. So greedy. I think I moved on to gin and tonics. (Doubles, obviously).

I remember the Secret Santa because I got some awful, ugly scarf as a present, but – as you have no idea who bought it – I had to make a big show of absolutely loving it. After that was over some of the tables in the centre of the bar got pushed aside, the lights dimmed and the music turned up. A few people started dancing, but it was a bit weird because the bar was too small. It was like being at a wedding reception, when everyone stands round watching two people sway awkwardly on the ‘dance floor’, ie a few square metres of laminate flooring at the end of the room.

The next thing I remember is a load of people gate crashing the party. I work in TV for quite a big broadcaster and after a while I realised the gate crashers were actually radio journalists from the building next to ours. I recognised one of them – let’s call him J – as we worked together several years ago. I knew he liked me because he’d told me so on many other drunken occasions in my early twenties. He’s alright looking but unfortunately he’s really boring and has an ego the size of the planet. Oh, and he thinks he’s God’s gift to women.

Anyway, all of sudden I think it’s a great idea to dance with him, in front of everyone. Suddenly we’re dancing really close and I’m aware people are watching. But I don’t care because wine is running through my veins and I’m so sexy, right? We start kissing, proper full on cringey snogging, just metres away from my colleagues, bosses, editors, my line manager and just about anyone that matters. Someone takes a photo and threatens to put in on Facebook.

After a while, the people J arrived with announce they’re going. He suggests we go too. Can he walk me back to my flat? Through the drunken haze I think: yes, that is probably a good idea. It’s freezing cold and all the way home J keeps saying “Wow, this is a nice surprise!” By the time we get to mine I’ve started to sober up, but when he asks if he can come in I still say yes. After more kissing and god knows what else, I realise that having sex with J is going to be a very bad idea. I tell him this and he thinks I’m joking. It takes ages to convince him that yes, I do actually want him to get dressed and walk home in the cold at 2am. Eventually he gets the message and leaves, thank goodness.

It took months for people to stop teasing me about The Christmas Party Incident and much longer for me to be able to look my boss in the eye. Journalists have a reputation for being heavy drinkers but it’s a bit of an old cliché now. No one I work with has long boozy lunches or ‘meetings’ with contacts in the pub. So my behaviour stood out and although I laughed off all the banter and jokes, privately I was mortified at being so out of control. I knew I drank too much when home alone, but this time I’d done it in public.

This year’s work Christmas party is going to be different, because a) I don’t drink anymore and b) I’m not going. It clashes with something else and to be honest I’m pleased to get out of it. As it happens, quite a few people can’t make it this year so a group of us have organised something else, a kind of alternative Christmas party night out.

It’s in a few days time and I’m looking forward to it but I also feel nervous too. I’ve been a bit of a hermit recently as sometimes going out just feels like hard work. We’re all meeting at someone’s house first, where I’m sure I’ll be offered a drink. So straightaway it’ll be hard to get a soft drink discretely. I think most people know I haven’t been drinking recently but they might be surprised that I’m still not drinking. They always seem to think it’s just a temporary thing, but maybe that’s my fault for letting them think that in the first place.

Anyway, I’ve bought a new dress and I’m getting my hair cut that day, so hopefully I will feel good and look great… and have a fun, SOBER night out.

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26 thoughts on “A Christmas party I’d rather forget

  1. momma bee November 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm Reply

    Sober is Sexy and you will look fabulous~ Can’t wait to read about it!

    • soberjournalist November 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm Reply

      Thank you! Sober IS sexy.

      • winston collins June 15, 2014 at 5:55 am

        T1 thinking is a self-destructive view of one’s self and others. Numerous books discuss toxic relationships between two or more people; but T1 relationships, which are produced by T1 thinking, are unique because they involve injury to the “self” of all individuals involved. People with injured selves will maintain close relationships only with others who have an injured self. These relationships are fatally flawed and irreparable. The only relationship that can be repaired is the individual’s relationship with her or himself, and only then can she or he recover the ability to develop healthy relationships with others. T1 thinking is a self-destructive perspective that children learn in the first few years of their lives from T1 thinking adults. It is a cycle that perpetuates itself and is a causal factor for many of modern society’s ills including family dysfunction, substance abuse and depression. Dr. Winston Collins’ book combines self-theory, psychodynamics, and spirituality to explain the psychological forces underlying troubled relationships between T1 partners, T1 family members, and other T1 associates. It goes on to teach a T1 thinker how to advance her or his recovery from this self-destructive thinking and achieve the personal freedom necessary for a happy and fulfilling life. Anyone involved in T1 relationships; people in recovery from any form of addiction; professionals in the mental health or drug/alcohol field; students of behavioral science, social work, and psychology; and members of the general public who want a better understanding of why people—including themselves—behave the way they do will find this book enlightening, moving, and liberating.

  2. FitFatFood November 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Wow, it’s a miracle something like that hasn’t happened to me yet. I hugely fancy someone I work with and I’m so relieved I’m not drinking because I know it will stop me thinking it’s a great idea to make a move.

    Good on you for not going to the party! It’s one of those weird nights of the year that no-one really wants to go to, however much they like their colleagues, and deals with it by getting drunk.

    Do you have a soberjournalist email address I could contact you at btw? 🙂

    • soberjournalist November 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm Reply

      I know quite a few people who met at work but when it doesn’t work out it is beyond awkward… I agree work parties are a bit weird. I mean, unless your boss is really cool who wants to spend their free time with them?! My email address is soberjournalist@gmail.com

  3. Shame Doesn't Define Me November 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm Reply

    Thanks for this post. It brought back a bunch of memories (albeit painful ones); however, this is a timely reminder of why I need to keep my drinking in check. Lord knows I’ve made enough embarrassing memories of holidays past. I appreciate your honesty; it is good to have these honest stories so we can all be real
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • soberjournalist November 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm Reply

      Thanks. Embarrassing memories do serve a purpose, I guess! Happy thanksgiving.

  4. Drunky Drunk Girl November 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm Reply

    I ended up screaming at my CEO, kicking the door of a cab that they called for me, and then, getting arrested en route home and spending two nights in jail…after which I came into work two days later and was fired. How’s that for the worst Xmas party ever? It was horrendous, and I internalized a lot of the pain, but it’s over and I can say, I learned from it but I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I’m glad you realized that it’s OK to stop now, before it gets *really bad,* whatever that means. And, while something like that obviously might not happen again, you never know. I had been drinking to excess and blacking out and going bat shit crazy lately, but I wasn’t prepared to be taken down, literally, by the wine I was gulping at the party that night quite so forcefully. HUGS to us, and I’m glad you’re getting all done up and ready to go–me, too. Have one of the first parties of the season tonight, and I was gonna skip out, but…I think I should go. xx Thanks for this post…

    • soberjournalist November 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm Reply

      Oh my god, on the embarrassing scale you win, hands down! I’ve never done anything that crazy, but I have done things that are very out of character for me and looking back I can’t believe it was the same person making those decisions. You sound like a lovely person (sober!)so I can only imagine how you felt at the time. Definitely go to the party tonight and let me know how it goes. I am determined not to hide at home this party season, even though it seems like the easier option at times. Go out and have fun x

  5. AsJimSeesIt November 27, 2013 at 7:48 pm Reply

    I actually found that being forced to go to a Christmas party was the best thing that ever happened to me. Walking through it removed my fear of alcohol

    http://asjimseesit.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/10th-step-promises/

    “Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all.

    We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.”

    Alcoholics Anonymous (p101)

    • soberjournalist November 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm Reply

      Your post on this is great. I think I need your wife to push me out the door and tell me to man the fuck up too! Sober and awkward has just been posting about this too http://soberandawkward.wordpress.com/ only she is under pressure NOT to go. There are lots of opinions on this but I think we have to get out there. You can’t spend the rest of your days hiding from booze and other people.

  6. AsJimSeesIt November 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm Reply

    “You can’t spend the rest of your days hiding from booze and other people.”
    I agree. The greatest harm alcohol did for me was limit me. It chose the girls I would date and when we would break up, the jobs I would have and when I would lose them, how many dents would be in my car… I refuse to let alcohol make one more decision for me. That is my 9th step amends to myself.

    Love your writing. Keep it up!

  7. Drunky Drunk Girl November 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm Reply

    I agree, we can’t pretend that alcohol and drinkers don’t exist! These days, it’s not not being able to have wine at a social gathering that gets me down (it sort of does, but at least I can enjoy and not be awkward or afraid of being sober at a party), it’s the fact that, going on 18 months since I started getting sober, I more and more just don’t want to socialize. I feel like I could be alone forever, and I’d be perfectly content. But, intellectually, I know this “must be bad,” somehow, so I force myself to go. I’ll force myself to go tonight, and I really like these people so I feel worse in a way, not wanting to go! Ack!

  8. jenisthesoberist November 27, 2013 at 9:53 pm Reply

    I just forced myself to go to a social event last weekend, and it was a good experience. I set the intention in my head that I was going to have an awesome time, and I did! I think visualizing it going well helped a lot.

    I flashed my boobs at one Christmas party once (many, many years ago). Ha! Luckily it was when I worked as a bartender so everyone drank a lot and it was a pretty wild party. Still so embarrassing, though! Being sober rules because nothing like that will ever happen again. 🙂

    • soberjournalist November 28, 2013 at 10:48 am Reply

      Laughing out loud at the idea of you flashing your boobs … that doesn’t seem like something you would do at all. I guess I only know sober Jen… just goes to show how different we all are drunk. Great idea about the visualising, I will give it a go!

  9. Lilly November 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm Reply

    Oh sweetie, wanted to give you a big hug reading this – so been there. So, so been there. It made me think about our chats about dating and sobriety – when I think about it, almost all my decisions about men have been fuelled by booze to some degree and definitely ALL my WORST encounters, like your J there, have been while way too pissed. So. We might get less action sober but I can only imagine that if and when we hook up with someone it will be for the right reasons not just cause we’ve had 10 glasses of wine.

    Good idea re the new haircut! Funnily, I have booked in a super exxy hair apt for this weekend too, when all the parties start in earnest, and I plan to spend a bit more than usual on nails/wax etc right before I go away. We have to know that we can ROCK these parties sober and looking and feeling our very best can only help. Buy yourself a brand new party dress too while you’re at it I say. You will be walking tall and proud and looking gorgeous. Go you!

    • soberjournalist November 28, 2013 at 10:54 am Reply

      I just wanted to write this stuff down in case I forget … or worse still ‘forget’ about all the bad stuff whilst I’m actually at a party! It would be AMAZING to meet a really fit bloke whilst totally sober. Here’s hoping …x

  10. carrieonsober November 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm Reply

    Oh I have too many stories to even begin to write here, maybe over coffee another time? 🙂
    Been there, done that. Time to move on and if you can face it, I agree, scrub up well, get your party frock on, a huge smile and show them how fab it is to be sober! It’s only going to be noticed while they’re sober, mind you…so don’t bother overstaying just to prove a point. Plenty more festive ways to enjoy your new haricut and frock on one of your chosen evenings more geared towards sober fun.
    Have a fab evening, can’t wait to hear all about it!
    C xx

    • soberjournalist November 28, 2013 at 10:57 am Reply

      Thanks. Your post about sober being the new black has filled me with hope! I am going to go there in a good frame of mind and stay for as long as I’m having fun. Will let you know how it goes! x

  11. Annabelle Lee November 28, 2013 at 6:21 am Reply

    We need these embarrassing memories to remind ourselves that staying sober is the smart thing to do. I know that when I tell people I am no longer drinking, their reaction (which usually involves an eye roll and a “yeah-we will see how long THAT lasts”) is their way of defending themselves against their own insecurities. My abstinence doesn’t make everyone uncomfortable. But, I appreciate the people it does make uncomfortable, because those are the people who keep me motivated. They remind me of who I DON’T want to be.

  12. glenn November 29, 2013 at 2:59 am Reply

    I commend you on your openness, soberjournalist, and on taking steps to maintain your sobriety. I have had to abstain from holiday parties, which is a bit of a thing as I used to be a bartender for years, and that abstinance, frankly, is just fine with me. I have been disturbingly open with friends and new coworkers about my shift in lifestyle and most don’t bat an eye with my transparency of my alcoholism. Some find it refreshing, some find it endearing, some find it shockingly weird. In any case, removing myself from situations in which I used to drink with embarrassing heaviness has been understood by most and the right thing for me to do to stay healthy. So… I understand. I wish you well with all that you do in this new venture of sobriety. It is a wonderful thing.

  13. lovinglife52 November 29, 2013 at 11:19 am Reply

    Xmas parties always show up the heavy drinkers! This year will be about my 8th sticking to mineral water and I will enjoy watching the usual subjects make fools of themselves. I work in a not dissimilar environment and I’m sure you will find your career will progress well in the future when people regard you as a straight , fun character that can be trusted. I like the look of your blog and will read more. It is good to see more people writing about this. I’m having a go myself.
    Best wishes for the future and I will pop back soon

  14. Mrs D December 1, 2013 at 7:49 am Reply

    Aw.. I feel like giving you a big hug too.. the party must be this weekend? Just gone (your time) as I write this? Can’t wait to hear! You should watch the video I just put up on my blog.. very powerful and the woman in it is just like the you that you describe from last years christmas party.. and me from many many many parties… SO GREAT that you are sober! Hope the dress and hair was fabulous.. sure it was.. and really hope that you had a good time. If you didn’t.. don’t despair.. sober events are hit and miss.. as drunk events are too.. but sober ones at least you’ll never wake up regretting having not drunk the night before.. if you know what I mean. Sending love xxxx

  15. soberandawkward December 1, 2013 at 8:15 pm Reply

    I think we’ve all been there! *groan*

  16. SociallySober December 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply

    This was my first year being sober for holiday parties. I forced myself to go to mine and my husbands. Both were awkward. But of all things, I saw a lot of people getting drunk, talk about getting drunk and it seemed to me, at times, they were obsessed with drinking more. I thought a lot to myself…was I like that? Either way, I have a problem. So I’d go to these parties, show my face, and leave. I can’t believe I’d ever look forward getting home, getting in my pajamas and watching re-runs. But I did and as cliche as it sounds, waking up the next morning without a hangover was a relief and felt great. I hope you feel a similar way. Or maybe you’ll find that you’ll have a fabulous time sober…I hope to get to that place someday. BTW, just found your blog and I’m beyond excited. We seem to have gotten sober around the same time, so it’s nice to read about someone experiencing the same. I’ll be back!

    • soberjournalist December 29, 2013 at 9:39 am Reply

      Waking up without a hangover makes up for everything! I’m finding that some parties are rubbish, sober, but some things are surprisingly good. I’m trying not to let the bad experiences put me off because as you say, we can always just go home! Hope you had a good Christmas and best wishes for 2014 x

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