Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Between you and me ...

A guy I work with is a recovering alcoholic. He’s been sober now for like, 9 years. And between you and me I just cringe whenever the conversation starts veering that way.

I’m terrible, right? Well, let me explain. First of all, he’s the same age as me. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, just maybe because he loves to seem like the experienced old timer about things. Next, he talks about his drinking days like he’s immensely proud of them and that we should be in awe of his capacities.

“I used to come home from work and grab two beers. I’d have the first one drank before the second one would even start to sweat.”

Okay … So?

Finally, I’m not convinced he indeed was/is an alcoholic. Just because you drink a ton of beer for a period in your life doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an alcoholic, it just means you’re a binge drinker. And this big display he puts on about needing to stay away from any situation where alcohol is accessible seems just a tad overdone and a little self-gratifying.

Between you and me, I bet I have consumed more alcohol than he has.

I drank a lot when I was younger. Booze and pot were the hip drugs to do when I was in high school – I never much liked pot so I just drank. I drank whenever I could, and usually a lot. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying. College is, well – you know – college. What happens in the bars stays in the bars ;). Then in my 20’s my friends and I went out every night. EVERY night. We laughed, danced, and invariably got snot-slinging drunk and crawled home some way, some how. And being that I don’t like the world’s #1 and #2 selling beers, not to mention am always looking for the shortest route between point A & B, I drank liquor.

I drank the most around the time the Hub and I first met. We killed a liter or two of Canadian Mist every couple days. That’s a lot of booze.

I don’t drink anymore – well, not much anyway, just now and then. But it’s not due to hitting rock bottom or anything – I just grew out of that phase in my life. When I quit smoking, man that was a job. VERY hard habit to break. But booze was just take it or leave it.

So why did my hard stuff-drinkin’ butt just walk away while AA-Boy wrestled so hard with … (crinkling eyebrows in disbelief) … beer?

Then I think, I’m a real piece of poop. How do I know what burdens my friend bears? To what addictions he’s more susceptible than I? Why should I assume what is easy for me is easy for everyone?

I don’t and I shouldn’t.

But between you and me, it still bugs me. Like he’s grandstanding or something.

What’s up with that?

I'm sure a bunch of people are going to beat me up now, but I'm just saying ...


Bougie Black Boy said...

this was your best post yet. And, i'd definitely love to see it expanded into a creative nonfiction essay. You're absolutely amazing. I agree with you about your observations about him and regard to your experiences.

sidetrack said...

i grew up in an "alcoholic" family--we're talking the full gamut of libations. i still don't understand how this affected me. there are so many dynamics with booze i don't understand. your insights are always astute.

Rebecca said...

No beating up here. But - the difference between you, me and that other guy is probably the way his drinking affected his life, as opposed to the amounts of alcohol he drank, you know what I mean?

I think most of us fall into the "binge drinker" category (which by AA terms, is a form of addiction). But for most of us, it was just a part of growing up and "having fun". Maybe this guy would be a lunatic and be abusive when he drank? Or maybe it affected him far more than it affects other people and clouded his judgement/responsibilities. Who knows.

I'm very fortunate that I did not have this as part of my "growing up life", however - my husbands family is inundated with all types of addiction. From alcohol, to drugs, to gambling, to food... there's' compulsion throughout, and I've learned to not try and understand it, because I don't think that you ever can unless you live it yourself.