My god, I am too old for this shit…, I thought as I stared at my red, splotchy face in the bathroom mirror.
It was then that I noticed one of my fake eyelashes from the night before had made it’s way to the center of my forehead and was now stuck.
I was still in my fancy black dress and sweater too. Apparently I had come home after a night of dancing and drinking, scarfed down two lean cuisine meals and then promptly passed out fully clothed on top of my comforter. With all the lights in the house still on.
I was hurting. I was sleep-deprived. I was going to be late for work.
I’m 36. I’m too old for this shit.
Or … am I?
This is the question I ask myself often. I’ve been warring with this idea of what version of an adult I should be at this age for quite some time now. I’m 36, I’ve been married and divorced. I don’t have any kids. I don’t own a house. I’m single. And I enjoy vodka. A lot.
I’ve written about it before, but my timid life as a child in the church was further compounded by an 8-year relationship where I never felt free to grow or discover who I was. After I ended my marriage, my previously sheltered life changed dramatically. I moved to Dallas and started making friends. I found karaoke and dancing and all the bars. And I have loved it.
These last 5 years have been complete freedom and fun. So fun. But also … quite exhausting. Physically and emotionally.
I thought I would’ve been out of this ‘phase’ by now. I figured I would eventually tire of it. Actually, if I’m being completely transparent and honest … I naively assumed I would’ve met someone by now. I figured on one of these happy nights out I’d see him, across the bar, twinkle in his eye and he’d come over, kiss me and change my life forever. And then my lifestyle would naturally shift to complement his. I figured we’d ‘grow up’ together.
Ugh, I know … how upsettingly old-fashioned of me to wait on a fictitious significant other to inspire change in my life. I’m an independent woman who prides myself on being this way. But still, I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve been waiting on. The next chapter, the beginning of my future … signified by the person I hope to build a life with.
The happy ending.
It’s become increasingly clear that this ideal situation might not ever happen. My ‘one’ might not ever show up. He’s certainly taking his sweet ass time. And in the interim, I’m hanging on to this lifestyle by a thread. Hungover, exhausted, my liver in shambles.
So many people went through this ‘phase’ in their college years, but I didn’t. Perhaps that’s because I’m a college dropout? Eh, whatever the reason, I sowed my wild oats a lot later. And that’s ok because honestly, I’m not sure I could’ve afforded it in my 20s. However, the thing about going through this ‘phase’ in college vs now is that when people finally graduate, it typically signals a shift in their habits. It’s the end of their extended childhood and beginning of their adulthood. It’s time to join the workforce and find someone great to settle down with in a cute house in the suburbs. It’s time to stop drinking like a frat-boy and start contributing to society like a grown-up.
I did all of this in reverse. I found someone, settled down, got ahead in my career, bought a house … then it all fell apart. And I began my solo journey of self-discovery. And, like I said above, it’s been a blast. But it’s also gone on for too long and I’ve just been sitting here waiting, with a drink in my hand … for that signal to shift my habits. That next chapter. My man plus house plus potential-baby-but-might-just-be-five-dogs happy ending.
I thought I’d be settled and married by this age. I thought I might have kids. A house with a yard. I certainly thought I’d have more of my shit together. But … I do not.
I feel like I’m always late to everything. Ok … that’s because I AM always late to everything. My friends often lie and tell me a party starts 30 minutes earlier than it does. I still wind up 15 minutes late (probably because I have caught on to this trick).
I am always late to work. I just don’t enjoy getting to the office until I’ve had my three cups of coffee, I’ve written three pages in my journal, spent a solid 10 minutes staring into the abyss and spent an ungodly amount of time just fucking around. I need my mornings to myself. My job is quite understanding and will plan meetings for 10 or 10:30. I still wind up being late.
But I’m realizing now, that my habit of being late has potentially resulted in being late to this game of self-discovery. Really late. And now … I feel late to this game of writing and trying live out my dreams.
I’m 36. Is it too late? Am I too late? Is it too late to have kids? Is it too late to change careers and pursue my passion?
Or is the old adage true .. better late than never?
This is what I’m hoping. The game isn’t over if I’m still in it, right?
One thing’s for sure, it’s clear that it’s time to start taking charge of my happy ending. And the next chapter starts with me. I am dating again and who knows what the year holds as far as my love life goes but I do know this … my relationship with alcohol and the nightlife needs to change.
I’ve enjoyed 5 fun, but also hard years of self-discovery. I’ve experienced late nights drinking and singing and dancing and laughing. I’ve experienced magical connections and deep love as well as crushing heartbreak. And all of it has been beautiful and wonderful and has taught me so much.
But the lessons are learned and I don’t need to learn them again. I’m ready for a change.
I have honestly scaled back a lot in recent months, especially with going out. I try to limit my drinking to Fridays and Saturdays. I’m really in a happy place overall in my life and I don’t see my going out as a refection of a deeper depression. I just enjoy it. I enjoy dive bars and karaoke and dancing. And when I go out, I like to go out. I don’t like to be bound by any schedule.
The problem however is the next day. My body hurts, I’m basically useless and recently I’ve found my emotions are also wrecked. Not always, but Sundays tend to be down days for me. After back to back nights of drinking, I sometimes get the blues. Add to it that I’m too wiped to do anything so I basically waste what could be a productive, happy day trying to talk myself out of depression. I’m not actually depressed but alcohol leaves me feeling otherwise. I don’t have much control over what my mind wants to focus on, which leaves me feeling incredibly unproductive and oftentimes really sad. And as an aspiring writer, this is no good for me.
I’m over it. Much like a man who promises you the world at night, promises he’ll always love you and care for you, calls you his motherfucking lobster (sigh .. I digress), but then basically ghosts when the light of day (reality) hits, so is it with alcohol. At night, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy and bubbly and happy, but in the morning, it abandons me, leaving me to feel beat up and emotionally drained and all too lonely.
This relationship has turned toxic.
The problem isn’t alcohol though or my night life. It’s me. I haven’t really set up boundaries when it comes to going out. I didn’t want to limit the freedom I’ve been relishing so much since leaving my ex and finding my voice. But maybe too much freedom is a bad thing? Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial right?
I want to be a writer. I want to pursue this like a career. And while it’s true, many of the great writers throughout history were raging alcoholics (I’m in good company, eh?), I don’t think that’s working for me creatively. Unless I just want to write deeply depressing novels about unrequited love. (I don’t. There are enough of those already.)
Quite frankly, my best work is done sober.
Instead of going out till the wee hours and then spending the next day trying to pull my shit together, I’m ready to scale it back. Give myself a curfew (ugh) and a drink limit (double ugh), knowing that I will feel so grateful for that restriction the next day. And hopefully be more inspired to write from a place that is level and content and can see straight.
It’s up to me to write my happy ending, both figuratively and literally. Deep down I’ve always known this. I’ve always known the truth is no one’s going to just give me my dreams. I’ve always known the ending of my story is up to me and me alone.
It’s time for me to wake up (not hungover), dust my ambitions off and write like a motherfucker. (And while I’m at it, grow the fuck up … just a bit.)
I want to treat writing like a career. I want to show up fresh to the blank screen, open and ready for the muse to reveal herself. I want to enjoy going out in moderation because let’s be honest, I’m not giving up karaoke or girls night with Ash. But I can change my relationship terms with alcohol.
It’s time to put him in the friend zone. And like a friend that I see in brief spurts every once in a while and enjoy some mildly flirtatious conversation with. I do not party hard with this friend. And I definitely do not go home with him.
The truth is he (alcohol) is never going to give me what I want. That I must do myself …. and to do that, I need my health, my heart and all my faculties. He was fun while he lasted, but it’s time to put him in his proper place so I can focus on the happy ending I am going to create for myself.
Maybe it’ll involve a great, magical love (I hope it does). Maybe it’ll involve kids and a white picket fence (still not sure about that). All I know is to get to that happy ending it’s going to take me being the best, strongest, sharpest version of myself. And a lot fewer nights drinking like a frat-boy with no plans for his future. I do have plans and they are a-plenty.
I may be late coming to this ‘sobering’ conclusion, but at least I’m here.
Better late than never right?