I’m not saying ditch the therapist and buy some booze. I’m just saying, a little self-loathing boozy time is good sometimes.
And I’m not really claiming anything about anything. All I’m trying to share is that, for me, a little solo or friendly boozy trip just does it.
I’m not an alcoholic, and I tend to mostly drink socially, except for the occasional cold beer during some computer work or some wine with my tv dinner. Other than that it’s strictly social.
But one thing I do enjoy outside of this routine is drinking as a way to escape. Specifically, drinking alone. Although an intimate group of 1-2 very close friends is usually welcomed, but not always necessary. I’m a creature of ranting. I just love the chat. Yes, I struggle to open up about heavy topics but that certainly doesn’t mean that I do not like to talk… certainly not. I think our ability to communicate such complex ideas and express our own complexities in a language we all understand is a luxury many other animals don’t have the pleasure of experiencing.
Back to drinking as a form of therapy.
Just over a year now, in a faraway land that is China, I walked to a local bar downtown with my roommate Livi. It was our first time going out just us two, together, in a long time. 3 of us, but also technically 4 of us, lived in a crowded two-bedroom downtown apartment so most of our outings were accompanied by the house. I’ve definitely lived in it all by now: a spacious two-bedroom solo apartment, a two-story penthouse apartment with roommates and with more amenities than we ever did need, and a small downtown apartment where we eventually opened our doors for new roomies, hence shared rooms. I loved each and every experience, so so much.
It was already late, maybe 7 or 9 pm, and we walked about 7 minutes to a local, gloomy, brick-walled, and candle-lit bar with only two small tables that sit 2 people and 2 booths that had the curtain-cover option. Very gloomy vibes. It was perfect. The cocktails were especially pricey cause you knew you were getting real alcohol (remember this is China and yes, the alcohol can be “fake” sometimes too) and they were always garnished so beautifully that you took a few short moments before taking the first sip. If you’re not rich, then you probably get where I’m coming from.
Admire, admire, admire. quick snap. admire. hope it tastes as good as the price. sip. feel bougie, admire, sip.
I had been going through heavy, truly out-of-body experiences with a very close person to me. They were struggling back home in LA, and I was in China, unable to do much of anything about it but listen and offer my emotional support and time. I was also in my first year of grad school, there was a time difference of 15-16 hours depending on daylight savings (China doesn’t do daylight savings), and was working about 40 hours a week on top of that and lived in a house full of roommates whom I couldn’t totally open up to due to my own inability to share to anyone.
So you can just imagine what these next few moments would offer me and in turn pave way for my future bar endeavors. It was the beginning of my self-loathing phase. A phase that lasted a lot longer beyond this specific moment.
Actually, funnily enough, and no this was not at all planned, I’m currently sitting alone at a bar sipping on my second and very strong margarita. Please do not totally judge me on the context of these next few paragraphs.
Back to China:
We arrived after a few-minute walk to this bar called Satan Whiskers. It was both our first time there and I immediately was in Love. Nothing says “open up your soul” like a moody-lit small and quaint bar with just enough people (3) to not feel totally weird and yet still feel accompanied and alone. As we ordered and sat down, it certainly felt that way; alone and not alone. Safe to open, safe to keep closed. Livi and I were both going through our own distinct rough patches. She was really good at expressing her feelings in public, and I was really good at concealing them.
So we started to talk, something I felt we both needed at this moment.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty details because they are not necessary. But I do remember this.
After my responding “I’m okay” to her “Are you okay?” she said these words that impacted me beyond my own ability to comprehend in a way that allowed me to control my emotions. And
I’m fairly good at controlling my emotions.
“It’s okay to not be okay.”
Damn. There was no stopping the waterworks that came gushing out at a moment’s notice.
My whole life, somehow, I was conditioned to believe that no matter what, things are/will be okay. And yes of course they are and will be okay. There is no doubt about that. But unconsciously, it, among other things, chiseled me into behaving as if things were okay despite the fire or destruction happening all around me, heat beginning to burn my own flesh. I picture that meme with Ryan Reynolds, casually leaning against a building wall while a car is exploding behind him. And even more, funnily enough, I feel like I relate to Khloe Kardashian’s way of dealing with her own issues on camera, as recently seen in the new Hulu series The Kardashians. Basically not processing the depth and complexity of the situation and its impact on my own mental health.
I’ve always struggled to share my heavy pains and emotions on the condition of not wanting to be a burden to those I love and love me. And to this, I have to thank both Livi and Natalie (roommate love beans/besties) for the following love that helped and is continuing to help my journey of sharing the trauma, pain, and complexity that is my and everyone else’s life.
As Livi said those words to me I responded with: “I don’t want to be a burden”
And she heroically shook that floor on which I stood and reminded me that if roles were reversed, as a close friend, I wouldn’t feel that way. I wouldn’t treat the ones I love the way I’m afraid I’ll be treated or burden them. She said,
“If I came to you seeking support and help for my problems would you feel it a burden?”
Without a second thought, my obvious and immediate reflexive response was No!
“So why would you think you’d be a burden to us?”
I can’t stress enough the emotional earthquake I experienced that shook me to my core that late evening. I still struggle, I will not lie. But understanding that other people’s responses to my own heartbreak are just as loving as my response to their heartbreak helps me break down those walls and grow into being brave enough to trust that I am safe, my most vulnerable and shakeable self is safe in the arms of those who love me.
Queue the waterworks to an emotionally and tear-filled healing talk, for both of us.
Since then, I’ve found joy in both moody bars and solo bar sitting events for moments of silent peace and self-loathing therapy where I am able to listen to my own thoughts and process the life that surrounds and impacts me.
No phone, no internet (except for this particular occasion), and no people but you, the bartender, and the people chatting away on either side of you. It’s a chaotic, populated world out there, and it’s nice to find peace amongst the chaos of it all.
I, since then, have had a few great experiences of self-loathing at The Perch in downtown LA after crying so much on my drive there-talk about looking nice and feeling shitty-, Lolas in Long Beach, and really any downtown bar in any place I travel to. I’m all for diving into the drinking culture and making it my own, in ways that work for me and my needs.
If you ever want to go sit at a bar, or at home, and just talk, call me, e-mail me, whatever you need to connect with me, I’d love to lend an ear, and I’m loving more and more to be heard. It’s a slow process of acceptance within myself, but I’m finding joy in the challenge. After all, I do love a good challenge.
So, if you happen to find me sitting alone at a bar, please do say hello, and then go back to your party. I’m self-loathing.