So the party happened! Not only did I not drink, but I wasn’t even tempted to drink. Usually at occasions like this, if I had decided not to drink and/or set things up not to drink, then I would spend the whole evening thinking about it and feeling hard done by like I was missing out on something that I needed or deserved.

Now, I did spend a chunk of the evening thinking about drinking. But more because I was curious and trying to get a really firm idea of how I was feeling about the whole thing. At one point I smelled my sister’s wine (the group I was with were talking about its earthy nose) and she said “you can taste it if you want” and I didn’t even have to think – tasting it was the last thing I wanted to do.

Around last Christmas I came to the conclusion that I don’t actually like the taste of wine. I’d met a few friends for a pre-Christmas meet up and chat and I’d ordered a glass of red to sip by the fire. And I decided to really take it slow and savour the wine and concentrate on it. My conclusion – wine doesn’t actually taste nice – and I don’t just mean this one glass of wine – it wasn’t a bad wine or anything, it just felt like the blinkers fell away for a while; I had been telling myself I enjoyed drinking wine because I really believed that I was getting something really positive in my life by drinking wine.

Of course, as you can see, I went back to the old lie soon enough. But no more!

So, I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not drinking. I did start the evening with a non-alcoholic beer, which I do actually enjoy, and somehow it felt like that allowed me to join in the “ceremony” of a formal dinner with drinks.

I felt awkward though. I have a really REALLY large extended family: 15 aunt and uncles, and more than 50 first cousins, 66 second cousins (we counted them up last night) – and this is all just on my mother’s side! So, there can be a lot of feeling like you should be familiar with people you actually don’t know all that well. In the cases of aunts and uncles, they are people who would have known me well as a small child – so they know me but I don’t really know them. I felt shy and awkward at times, but I talked away with people and started to dissolve some of that distance. I was even able to give hugs and kisses – something I feel really uncomfortable with outside of my immediate closest family.

didn’t feel uncomfortable in my body and face though. And for the first time since I can remember, I didn’t feel like I was in my sister’s shadow. Yes! My sister made it – and that really helped with the awkward and the unease – plus, it was nice to spend some time with her too.

But for as long as I can remember, I have felt dowdy and either “straggly” (in my thin years) or elephantine (in these fatter years) next to her. And there wasn’t any huge change in something I did with my appearance. I dressed casually, but nicely. I spent some time on my make-up and I was pleased with it. There’s no hiding the fact that I’m overweight, but I dressed for that, and I felt comfortable and not squeezed into anything. My skin is starting to look a bit brighter, I think, and I felt happy and relaxed in my own skin.

My sister looked beautiful too – and so did many many other people who were there. And for the first time since I can ever remember thinking about this, I didn’t feel like my appearance had anything to do with theirs. I didn’t feel jealous or judgemental. That’s it! My Judgemental Crow wasn’t present – he wasn’t tearing me down, or attempting to find flaws in others just to build me up. Okay, he was probably still there in flashes throughout the evening, but his info was quickly seen as false and dismissed. It will probably take more practice before I can completely banish that mode of thinking.

So, I’m happy. And while I was tired and had a bit of drive both ways, I am happy and content waking this morning, remembering the whole evening perfectly, pleased that the person I represented – while not the high-energy version of myself – was still a truthful representation of the person I am.