Do not read this post if you are easily triggered or don’t want to inhale a topic not customarily laid out in plain view on social media.
Because I’m hoping that one of the people I know will one day get the courage to write a book of the insanity she’s lived with, I’m writing this public service announcement. She will discover that sharing what once was taboo will liberate her. She is not responsible for what happened to her. It’s a lesson I know better than most. You would think my exposure to alcoholics who refuse help would make me callous to the evil they spew into the world. To my surprise, I’m still surprised, though. Alcoholism only thrives in secrecy; everyone who has dealt with addiction knows this. Our most common reaction, though, tends to be protective until it is too late.
Our silence makes us traitors to ourselves on a long enough timeline.
Everyone deserves a chance, a helping hand, and a fresh start. Or two. Or three. Not twenty-three, though. And not at the literal expense of the friends and family around you.
If you’ve ever driven so erratically through a high school parking lot that students use their phones to record you, you’re probably an alcoholic. This is doubly true if you have no children in school, anywhere, especially on a random (and early) Wednesday morning. Triply true if you’re retired. It doesn’t help to throw all your alcoholic beverage containers out the window while you’re being filmed, either. If you top all that off by nearly killing several people, Betty Ford needs to see you. If a group of police comes to your door and you lie to them, even after they show the video that high school teenagers took of you, in your car, as you endangered the lives of several people, you definitely have a drinking problem – and not the kind popularized in the movie “Airplane!” By all means, though, keep lying and insisting that the world is against you. I hope that the students who were endangered upload the video of you careening through the parking area around them to YouTube.
If I sound a bit angry, it’s because I know someone whose career should have made it impossible for him to fight tooth and nail to keep drinking, even after it cost him his career, his health, and the sanity of those around him. His background was similar to mine. His childhood was filled with sociopathic, violent, and angry alcoholics. He continues to get into vehicles to drive, even though he is drunk. As far as anyone knows, he hasn’t killed or injured anyone yet. (Unlike both my parents, who killed and severely maimed people because their love of alcohol made them less than human. Their combined DWI tally is simply too high to be believable.)
As for the person in question, I fought hard to get him the help he needed years ago, even as my sanity slipped. His job protected him from consequences; in part, they are as responsible for his worsening addiction as he is. His career is filled with a markedly high concentration of addicts and alcoholics. Some of the bureaucracy that protected him from consequences suffer from the same addiction. It is ironic that these protectors failed to protect anyone and in fact worsened the addiction by being the ultimate enablers. Not surprisingly, I’ve found this type of concealing behavior to be universal.
I sit and wait for the final word. It will be an inelegant death, and hopefully, one not bordered by the tragedy of others continuing to suffer for his poisonous choices. Since nothing has convinced the addict that he must change, I now hope that those around him pull away and let him find the bottom that he has insisted upon. It’s impossible to swim to shore and save yourself with dead weight on your shoulders. Love both expands and constricts us into choices.
I have no sympathy in my heart for the addict and it is a painful admission. He used his career and his intelligence to assault and beat down anyone who called into question his misbehavior. Literally, anyone.
Recently, I again risked my sanity and tried to convince the alcoholic to get help. He has great insurance, a great retirement plan, and people who have supported him even through years of grievous indignation. He lashed out with some of the angriest, vilest, most personal hatred a human could possibly dish out.
98% of my sympathy lies with the people whose lives this addict has ruined. Their daily struggles, their failed optimism, and hopes, and their inability to live full lives. They are in a holding pattern, waiting for the worst, to testify and witness against a life that is imploding around them. They are victims without an expiration date.
I sit. I wait. I hope that those infected by those with addictions choose freedom over loyalty. Life is too short.
Now, whether you want to or not, you know a little more about me. There’s a good chance that you will recognize people you know in this story. It’s not a new story.