We were introduced a thousand years ago (or perhaps less) when I, too, was still in my let's get dressed up and dance until closing time stage. I loved dancing. And I didn't need to drink in order to do it. Although I did. Fruity drinks. Southern and Cokes. The random shot encouraged by a friend with a camera: Let's all do one! Hold on - let's get the bartender to take our picture! Because bartenders love doing that.
Eventually, I moved past that stage. I met a guy. Fell in love. Wanted to settle down and start a real family (not the single mom thing I had been doing).
I wanted to get married and spend future summers at our cabin up north so I traded drinking for researching properties for sale online.
I wanted a nice home so I crossed off bar money on my budget and renamed it bathroom remodel.
I had a baby so I traded late Saturday nights for early morning Sunday school.
I envisioned what I wanted and, well, quite frankly, going to the bars drinking every weekend wasn't going to get me there. I said good bye to that stage in my life without ever really giving it much thought. For me, it was a natural next step in my maturing life. That's not to say I didn't order a fruity drink when out for dinner with friends, or enjoy a glass or two of wine out on the boat or during book club. It just wasn't part of my weekly habits anymore.
And I found I didn't miss that scene.
I didn't miss the drunk grabby guys or the girls full of drama, crying over the bathroom sink because of something their drunk crappy friend said. I didn't miss the bus load of girls in their too tall heels and too short dresses screaming their way through the bar with their giant inflatable props. And I certainly didn't miss the I got so hammered last night I puked all over the living room floor stories.
But all of that still is very important to my friend - although they'll tell you it isn't.
I can see through the you never want to go out anymore and life is too short to not enjoy it and you used to be fun, what happened? What happened was, if we go out now I become the mother. Because the truth is, when we go out my drinking is at a slow idle and their's is full throttle. I spend our time together counting drinks because I want to strategically leave before their drunk alter ego shows up. I worry constantly about how guilty I would feel if at the end of the night their story stops at swerved over the center line and hit a mother of four.
I can see through my friend at their truth: that when they start they just can't stop. That they're constantly explaining to me how three drinks to them is like one to a normal person (as if, somehow, alcohol doesn't enter their bloodstream). That I've never once seen them not finish a drink, or two, even after they said they were done and going home. That somehow, in the justification of their mind, because they were able to drive home wasted and not get a DUI, it means they have some sort of super power that allows them to "handle" their alcohol. That, in all honesty, I enjoy them sober way more than who they become after they cross that line of no return. That the sweet, sensitive, caring person I know suddenly erupts into this paranoid, screw everybody, I hate you jerk that no one wants to be around. That in all my years of knowing this person, they've never been able to go more than 3 or 4 months without getting completely, ridiculously, irresponsibly drunk. I can see through all their excuses and explanations and narratives and see one thing: even though they're not the dirty, homeless, missing teeth drunk of the movies, they have a problem with alcohol.
I no longer see the need to get buzzed to the point getting in a vehicle and driving is a dangerous and costly idea. I no longer see the need to get so drunk at a Thanksgiving celebration they have to ask their over 60-year old father to drive them back home. I no longer see the need to believe flimsy excuses of hidden bottles of alcohol that roll out from under the seat of their vehicle. I no longer feel the need to sit through another rant about how they have no money and life isn't fair because they work so hard when I know they easily just spent another $80 on booze. And I no longer see the need to feel like I'm the one that has somehow lost in life because I've moved into a different stage and I feel good about that.
I can't help but feel so sad. Discouraged. Disappointed.
This is someone I had shared so many good laughs with. Pictures of our past life together are full of smiles and hugs and, well, yes, drinks. But they're also full of hopes and expectations and dreams and wants and plans - things that we both deserve to see brought into fruition. And I can't help but notice their drinking hasn't helped them realize any of the dreams they talked about so long ago.
I wonder, where did their spark go? When did that fire for life die out and get replaced with just one more and I didn't plan to get drunk; it just happened? What causes a person to trade the dreams they had for their life for all the lies they have to tell to cover up the fact last night was just another night of bad decisions that didn't allow them to make it home?
Maybe it's completely Pollyanna of me, but I want to see everyone on this planet realize their dreams. I don't believe there's a person on this planet that doesn't have a passion or a gift or an interest that tugs at their heartstrings. I wish, somehow, every single person stayed sober enough to feel those heartstrings and know how happy their souls would be if they would follow where their heart is pulling them.
I wish my friend could fight for their dreams and not for just another drunken Saturday night.
Ellie Goulding: Guns and Horses
If you believe you may have a problem with alcohol, please, please know that you are worth getting help. Your dreams are worth it. Confide in a friend. Your doctor. A family member you trust. Seek out a counselor or find your closest Alcoholics Anonymous location.
For more information on the differences and warning signs of Social Drinkers, Problem Drinkers and High Functioning Alcoholics, (because most people who struggle with alcohol are not laying in a ditch), follow this link: The High Functioning Alcoholic