So, this weekend, I went to the City, and I went out. I had a great time, but as I mentioned in last week’s blog, I went out with someone who I was slightly more interested in that ‘just friends’ and I’ll tell you one thing, this changed EVERYTHING for me.
I have been going out with friends since I have been here. Many of them drink and I have even watched as they metamorphed into completely different people. When you are sober and you watch people you know well begin to drink, there is an almost immediate change in their behavior. It’s a slight widening of the eyes, there is a definite slur – even a small one – the smell is toxic – eyes seem to glass over. Other people may not notice this, but I can see it right away – almost after the first drink someone takes.
When I watch this, I chuckle a little at my own drunken behavior. I mean, who in the hell did I think I was kidding all those times I was drinking and claiming, “No, I am not drunk,” – My parents and Alex all say that they could tell immediately – sometimes within the first sentence. I remember being at grocery stores, the library, the bank, at restaurants, tons of places, just hammered and thinking that no one knew. But the smell alone… that musty, dirty, old booze, hot breath, stale cigarette, sweaty, ‘its coming out my pores’ smell…. It doesn’t have a name, but almost everyone who knows an alcoholic can smell it from a football field away. It’s the putrid smell of a spirit rotting.
Back to my friends. As the nights progress, these people change, become more emotional, rambunctious, I can see the common sense and composure begin to fade. I am usually jovial and happy around them – I never mind if someone drinks to get drunk – I decided early on that I was not going to be one of those recovering know-it-alls who is ready to prescribe addiction examinations to everyone because I made it through a few months of treatment.
God, I hate that.
But watching ‘people I know’ become ‘drunk people I know’ doesn’t really bother me. In fact, at this point in sobriety, it helps reinforce my commitment to staying sober. When I watch cool, calm, collected people become bumbling idiots, it helps me stay on the straight and narrow.
But a strange thing happened to me this weekend during the ‘date’ – I realized that when I am invested in someone, more than friends, someone with whom I want to build something more substantial with, it DOES matter that they drink. I know, I am as shocked by this as you are. I hardly cared a stitch about a buddy or friend or even a family member drinking, but when it comes to the person I want to let inside my heart – well, it certainly matters. And I just don’t think I can date someone who drinks.
You might be thinking that I don’t want this because I may be tempted to drink – but that isn’t it at all. I am not tempted to drink. I find it repulsive, in fact. THAT is why I can’t date someone who drinks. I just don’t want it in my life – not at that level anyway. I don’t want to deal with the drama and confusion that comes with it, I don’t care to deal with the lack of control and the emotional mutterings of a drunk person. I want to be able to go to bed with the same person I woke up with and I want to be able to wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning and do reasonable things and not waste a day on a hang over. So much of my life has been handed over to MY OWN hangovers, why in the hell would I spend another minute on SOMEONE ELSE’S hang over.
Hypocritical, perhaps. I don’t really know what to do about it except say that I am not above being a hypocrite in this regard, I know people stayed with me, loved me, and maintained relationships with me even when I was a dead-inside drunkard, perhaps they deserve a shout out, and I don’t know why they did it, or how they did it, but I am not going to do it. I am spending a heck of a lot of time trying to take care of myself right now, I don’t have the time to be taking care of someone else.
I think I have discovered why they say someone in recovery shouldn’t take care of anything more complex than a houseplant for a full year – for me, if the house plant bugs me, I’ll pull it out, and throw it away, or stop watering it.
They have rules about you doing the same thing to people.
Does this make me a selfish jerk? Maybe. But it makes me a SOBER selfish jerk. I am OK with that.
Anyway, I am not closing the book on the new relationship, but I am going to be a little more critical of where it’s leading. I’ll keep you posted.
Work has been going great. I love my job, and I love the job I am doing at my job. I feel a real distance from the ranch, though, and I don’t really like that. Lane and Marty have already moved to the final dorm before graduation. Next stop – freedom.
Brian, Curtis, then I will be moving to this last dorm in the next few weeks. We do have a transition group meeting that the top 20 guys are required to attend. This is a group that arms us with some real world skills as we transition away from the ranch into real life; when we are no longer accountable to the UA/BA’s we get, and only accountable to the guy standing in the mirror. I have recently found out that I am number 22 on this list. WOW!! I remember being number 72!!
I know there are many people who follow this blog and read it because there is someone in your life who is struggling with addiction. I want to assure you of one thing, I am not special, I am not unique. The successes and the happiness, and the personal triumphs I detail are not only mine. There are MANY guys on this ranch, many guys who have completed all kinds of programs who also have this kind of re-ignition of their spirit.
I am just the one who invited you along.
Peace all, have a good week.
PS - the email for the blog is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to write a personal email.