He just needed one more, one more drink and he’d be fine. One more drink of anything: beer, wine, hard liquor, mouthwash, he didn’t care as long as it had alcohol in it. As long as it turned this sick, horrible feeling he had into something manageable. As long as he could feel normal again. That’s all he asked. He just wanted to feel normal.
Things had regressed in the last couple of months at home. Depression set in and the home they lived in became a battle ground. Here where they had so many hopes, a future that held so much promise. It all turned black and hopeless as his drinking became the only thing he was. There was nothing left of him but his drinking.
She couldn’t live in the lie anymore and finally broke down and called someone; someone needed to be a witness. That someone was his sister. It was a hot, sticky, humid August night when she came and spoke to her brother, pleaded with her brother to stop drinking. She made a dent in his amour.
There was hope that perhaps he would hear the words she spoke, while his wife just prayed. Prayers were all she had left. There was nothing else she could do; she had tried everything else – she had tried coaxing and pleading and she had tried threats and rewards, but all of it seemed to fall onto deaf ears. The booze was all that mattered; life itself was worthless without a drink in your hand, without the medicine. Because eventually that is what the booze became: a medicine, something to keep the shakes away and the cobwebs out of the brain. Yet in reality the cobwebs were taking over the brain faster than he could drink the booze.
He did eventually call AA after the visit from his sister. He even went to an AA meeting with a sponsor. But it was short lived; on the way home he stopped at his local beer store and carried home a case of 24 with a cast on his foot. Another calamity of drinking is work accidents; they are second nature to alcoholics in the work force. And he wasn’t any different from any other alcoholic out there, accidents happened almost monthly. Serious ones at that, but he didn’t care; as long as he had that drink in his hand that was all that mattered.
Yet it seemed there was a glimmer of hope. It seemed that perhaps, just maybe, with all the drama and the pain and loss, he would do the right thing. It was only a matter of time before he asked for help. He knew, as we all do in some crevice in our mind, that what was happening to him was in the end going to kill him. Death, it seemed, was not something you wanted to play chicken with and that was exactly what he was doing. Eventually death would win this game; the drinking would claim another victim. “Victims” would more likely describe it, because not only would it claim him, but it would also hurt so many other people involved in his life – his family, his wife, his boss at work.
It had to stop, that was all there was to it. The drinking had to stop. The unfortunate thing about addictions is that those who are addicted know they are hurting everyone around them on some level but the addiction is more powerful than love. Love is strong but certainly not as strong as addiction. The question now with him was how was he going to stop?
“I need to go somewhere; I can’t do this on my own. I don’t know what to do.” He left this in a note for her to find one morning after a particularly long night of drinking. She took the note and cried, cried for him and for her and for the loss they shared. Cried for how long it had taken her to get help, cried for what it had already done to him physically. Cried for what it had done to her physically and mentally. She took that note and held it close to her and cried for hours.
He was dying. There was no doubt about that. The alcohol had poisoned his body and his mind. She in her fear knew if she couldn’t do anything for him now then that would be the end of him. Even though this man who drank through most of their married life, even though he barley spoke to her when he was sober, even though it seemed as though her life would never begin with him, even though she carried such resentment and anger and fear, she forgave all of that and she reached out to him – to her husband, her friend, her lover, the boy she’d met so long ago with the deep, beautiful blue eyes, and she helped him pull himself up from the depths of addiction. And she told him in no uncertain terms, “You better get sober, cause if you don’t you’ll die. Do you understand that? You are so sick right now, if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead within a year. I can’t live like this any more so now it’s in your hands. I will not stick around to watch you die.”
He got the help that he needed, and death did not come for him. He had a reprieve from that. He went to treatment, he healed. It took a long time. It took a lot of courage and hope, but eventually he came home. Back to the home he shared with his wife, the woman who loved him. Love as it turns out is more powerful than addiction. In their case love fought a good fight, and won. Not without support from family and friends and of course the treatment center.
He has been sober ever since that night in August so many years ago. She loves him for what he did for them, by choosing to live. She sometimes is awestruck at what their lives have become now. Had he taken another path what would their lives have been like? She doesn’t like to think about that. That makes her sad. To think of her life without him, her husband and best friend, well, that doesn’t bode well with her so she is terribly grateful that he did find sobriety and in finding that he found a life waiting for him.
Photo from the Microsoft Office Clipart Collection