A friend of mine is reading a book called The Tipping Point. I forget exactly what it’s about but I do remember thinking, when she told me about it, that it sounded awfully interesting. However, it’s not the book that has been on my mind today but the title. Because I think I had a bit of a tipping point of my own at the weekend. A tipping point being – and this is my own shoddily assembled working definition - that moment where you get to a crossroads of some sorts, where you know that if you go just a little bit further in one particular direction the balance is going to be upset and you’re going to have Gone Too Far.
The subject of this TP was, perhaps not unsurprisingly, boozing habits.
I do indeed, as has been well documented, like a tipple. In the past six months, in particular, I have really dedicated myself to my drinking in a way that would be admirable if all that energy was being direction towards, you know, curing cancer or learning another language. But although my drinking practices would probably horrify my mother and have given many shitty Saturday mornings and a face like (to steal a favourite of mine) a bloodhound’s funeral I’ve never really seriously thought to myself ‘oh you might actually have a problem here’. Until the weekend.
In setting the scene let me just say that I was loafing on the couch, alternately watching Sunset Boulevard and reading my book, not achieving much, really, and enjoying some wine with my cheese and crackers. A rather nice way to pass an afternoon/evening, I thought. That night I was due to head out for dinner and a movie with a friend and the time tricked along until I thought ‘oh I should probably get ready soon’. And so I did. Then the time came when I thought ‘ooh I probably have just enough time for a last glass of wine’. As indeed I would have. However, it occurred to me, another glass might just push me over the limit when it came to driving. Not really worth the risk, I thought, as indeed it wasn’t.
The TP came when, and yes I blush as I type this, it also occurred to me that I could TAKE the remainder of the bottle of wine with me IN THE CAR, drive to meet my friend and have that last glass once I had parked. Yes: in my car. Drink. Alone. In My Car. Possibly from a bottle. TP indeed, eh? I didn’t do it but I did quite seriously consider it, which is a worry in itself.
The point, however, is not that I have a drinking problem (let’s leave the jury out on that one, thankyou) but how easy it is to come to our own tipping points and tumble over. It doesn’t really matter what your vice is or what sort of bad habits you indulge in. Whatever they are and however serious they are I think we all do come, at some point or other, to a place where we have a clear opportunity to go one way or the other: to do something that will push us over the edge or to not do it. Sadly I have failed in many of these TPs – I have let friendships hit the shitter when I could have failed them. I have let cases of the blues spiral into full-blown down-in-the-dumpsville. I have done many things I regret. Really, if I detailed the rest of the times I have Gone Too Far you’d all be here until next week.
But no more. From now on I am all about moderation. Not in the sense that I will restrict myself to a glass of wine on Sundays or will start to eat yoghurt and berries for breakfast but in the sense that I will no longer allow things to get out of control. I will no longer Go To My Bad Place. At least I’ll try not to. And you, my reader(s) stand as my witnesses. Unfortunately you also have to be witness to the sad fact that my personal growth ambitions at this point pretty much add up to Do Try Not To Become An Alcoholic and Avoid Wrist Slashing While Bathing If At All Possible. Still: this, my friends, is what progress feels like.