Calm Winds

At the moment my friend called herself an alcoholic, I knew she was telling me the truth. She had let the Gennie out of the bottle and there was no putting it back.

“Do you have a problem with alcohol?” “No Sir, I have a problem without.”

An old joke. We laugh when we hear it. So much truth in it, which makes it so funny. When a mood-altering substance is no longer the problem but becomes the solution. Alcoholic what impact just one word can have. It took my breath away. It couldn’t be correct, although past events and incidents told me otherwise.

The time when she excused herself to use go to her bathroom, and she came back with a bloody nose. She had fallen into the bathtub when she had tried to pick up a washcloth. One minor accident of many. It wasn’t bad, just a cut on her nose where her glasses had stopped further injuries from happening. The bleeding stopped quickly, and we laughed at her clumsiness. All the times I had tucked her into her bed after another drinking session that had started out so innocently. So many harmless mishaps in all the years we knew each other added up. The number of hard liquor bottles she had in her cabinets. They were there, in case we wanted to make a drink out of the new cocktail book she had explained. I had given her the cocktail book for Christmas.

So many of my most treasured memories with her were associated with drinking -some were downright hysterical, others not so much, yet we still laughed.

“Do you think she is an alcoholic?” I had asked and my husband didn’t answer right away. “I am not sure, I never thought about it.”

What about me? My best friend had a drinking problem, and I didn’t notice? Or did I see it but had looked the other way? What kind of friend does this make me?

And what was I supposed to do?

The normal reaction is we try to change what we don’t like. She had to stop drinking. I would help, would become her savior, and would ultimately change her life for the better. I would cure her disease, end her addiction. Then we hold each other tight, hug, and walk into the sunset. Another fine ending for a fairytale dream.

Wake Up, Little Susie! Life doesn’t happen like that!

I didn’t know what to do. Back then I didn’t know much about alcoholism or addiction, but it seemed to be very common these days.

22,335 Alcohol Abuse Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

The drinking and driving had to stop. There was no way I would tolerate it. I would talk some sense into her and I already knew I would succeed. She didn’t start the day drinking; my friend didn’t need alcohol during her day at work, so she surely could wait another thirty minutes for her first drink and skip the trip to the liquor store.

She didn’t hurt me or anybody around her. She harmed herself, the same way she had done with food and her weight for so many years. One way or the other, we have to feed our demons -the substance might change, but the monsters stay the same until we face them.

I needed time to wrap my head around it. I had about eight hours before she would be back home.

Kurt was still sleeping when it was time for me to walk over to the kitchen as well.

My husband had just started the fire in the smokehouse, and soon the sausages we had made the day before would hang on the racks to get the smoky flavor they needed. Mondays were always busy, and we needed all the help we could get. A restaurant had called in an order for 400 boudin balls. It took forever to make them, but the customers loved them -and so did we. Every time we had to fulfill an order, we made at least 30 more and enjoyed them for dinner the same night.

Ben came over and helped us. He still didn’t roll the sausage balls in equal sizes, but by now, I had accepted his shortcomings. He pre-formed them, put them on a plate, and I finished them. It saved us time, and we got more done.

At lunchtime, I walked over to the house and found Kurt in MY office. He was checking out the back closets and the moment I saw him, going through all the things I wanted to ask him to stop. I had not even finished my thought when I realized he had every right to do whatever he wanted to do. I was the guest in his fiance’s house. He belonged here now; he lived here. What was hers would soon be his as well.

Why could I not wrap my head around it?

He asked me if I could turn on the computer; he wanted to look something up. If you can’t even turn on a computer, what business do you have using one, I wanted to say, but bit my tongue? He asked me to look up tools for him, I sat down and helped him find what he was looking for.

Kurt asked me about lunch, wanted to know if we would all eat together. He was friendly to me, he even seemed nervous at first. I am sure he felt awkward around us as well. I had never thought about it before. He was the ‘new kid’ on the block, and we hadn’t been very inviting.

I needed to tell my husband about it. “Before I left this morning, I put tape on the bottom of the closet door and at the dresser drawers,” my knight-in-shining-armor informed me, and I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. I had taken our jewelry out of the dresser drawer, had put the jewelry box in the truck first thing in the morning myself.

Goodness, neither one of us trusted him. We were paranoid, which probably was normal after everything we had just lived through. Would we distrust everybody in our future?

The tape was still in its place when we got back. Nobody had snooped through our things. We had been paranoid for no reason. I sat down on the bed and sighed with relief.

It was almost time for dinner. I finished cooking, set the table, and soon the four of us sat around the kitchen table and we discussed the events of the day. Afterward, we played RummyKub for a while, a game we loved to play and soon we snorted with laughter and built teams. Female vs Male, we won by a mile.

Rummikub - Forts and Fairies

My friend got a journal out, and she started to write down things we needed to have before we moved. We played the game and when we had time, we listed things that came to our minds. “Coffe maker, mugs, tennis racket, footlocker,” we cracked up laughing, had tears in our eyes. It brought back so many memories, and we shared our recollections with Kurt.

Six years earlier, we had invited my friend’s niece to a summer camp, not just ‘a’ camp, but a very nice high-class camp a couple of hours away. We split the cost and planned to visit her together on the weekends when parents and family could visit. Her niece would stay five weeks in cabins at a lake with other girls her age. The camp had an outstanding reputation (no surprise by how much it cost) and provided a variety of activities and sports games. Tennis and rowing, crossbow shooting and archery, writing classes, and even a theater and singing group were available. My friend’s sister was struggling health-wise and needed time alone, and so we took over and had the time of our lives planning everything until we got the list of things the kid had to have.

A footlocker, clothes for church, hiking and all the sports activities, tennis racket, and tennis balls, name tags in everything she wore. Bathing suit, swim shoes, a rope, a certain amount of towels and washcloths, shorts and shirts were mandatory, so were special shoes like rain boots. Rain jacket, a cardigan for walks and for church, even the amount of undergarments we had to pack was specified. We cringed when we added it all up and started shopping. We made a list, asked friends, neighbors, and spouses if they wanted to chip in. Night after night we studied the two pages of essentials we still needed to buy, were joined first by one friend, then by a handful. We got it done, and in the end, we send the kid off with everything she needed to not stand out.

“Why did you do it?” Kurt asked, and neither one of us answered right away. “Because we could,” my husband said, and we nodded.

We can’t take it with us, one of his favorite phrases these days, when he thinks I am too frugal. I am very careful with money ever since that time, and think twice -or three times- before I spend it on something I consider a waste.

Life changes you and not all of it is bad.

Alcoholism did not come up that night. It was bonding time, and we had succeeded. We all went to bed with a smile, had enjoyed each other’s company. We had opened up and felt good about it.

Kurt would be my friend’s husband soon, and it was time for me us to welcome him into our lives.

I postponed the talk about drinking and driving. There would be enough time to bring it up soon.

As for my friend calling herself an alcoholic. I knew she would tell me about it when we had time alone. I had questions and wanted to offer my help IF she decided it was time to deal with it. I would ask brutal questions and already knew she would answer the same way. The fact that she used the word alcoholic showed me she was aware of the problem, had tried to stop drinking and had failed, probably more than once.

We had never pushed each other or tried to change each other. She had never questioned me, I had never questioned her or her decisions. Friendship is love, love is acceptance.

She was an adult. All I could do was offer my support and be there when she needed me. It’s not my job to make everybody a better person. As much as we hope for other people to change for us, it’s a losing battle not worth fighting. Either you stay and you accept, or you don’t accept and you leave. There is no happiness in between.

I felt slightly relieved as well. No more pretending that I didn’t notice the empty bottles. No more pity drinking for me, so she didn’t have to drink alone. When I wanted a glass of wine in the future, I would have one. If not, I would say “No” and not feel guilty about not joining her.

We all went to bed in a good mood. It had been a good day; we had made progress.

Calm seas, calm winds, the silence before the storm?

Top 50 Nice Best Friend Quotes And Best Friend Wishes

20 thoughts on “Calm Winds

  1. My stepson quite frankly drank himself to death. He tried so hard, and couldn’t seem to get on top of the alcohol. He’d been sober for about a decade when a hard life circumstance became his reason to begin again, and he died at 54 years old. Alcoholism is a tragedy for everyone, and I am hanging on every word wondering where your story is going to go next. I’m glad you have some happy memories to point to. I’m reasonably sure this is moving in a direction that was extremely hard for you. 😦

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    • Debra, I am so very sorry to read about your stepson. I can only imagine how much pain it must have cost your family.
      Alcoholism as well as any other mood altering substance abuse is hell to watch, and I assume its hell to live with it as well.
      I have come to terms that I can’t change people, I can only be there. I have witness substance abuse throughout the years, perhaps one of the reasons I started “The Happy Quitter,” to begin with.
      As for my friend, it was painful to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Bridget. My husband spent so many years “intervening” in his son’s life, hoping he’d be able to help facilitate the impossible. It really mostly just made my husband ill, for a time. It has been a very big loss to our family, but my husband admits he lost his son decades ago. When you think about the millions of people caught in the grip, it’s really devastating. I’m hoping your friend got help…I’ll wait to hear the rest of the story. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I came to the United States 1984, one of the first things I noticed right away were the amount of people numbing themselves with drugs, pot or alcohol and the amount of people who were in need of medical care.

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  2. It’s like there’s a bomb about to go off… The tension, the big thunder cloud hanging above your heads, the insecurities about moving and living with a man you feel you cannot trust… Wow….
    I grew up with Rummicub, I remember when it was new and voted “game of the year”. I played this a lot with mum’s mum (grandma) when I was sleeping at her place. 😊

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  3. I do think your philosophy of loving and accepting someone is realistic – much more so than trying to change them. However…accepting something like drinking and driving goes past the boundary. You were in a tough spot. Who knows what I would have done? I don’t drink – well, hardly ever. And I don’t judge those who enjoy it within reason. I’ve just seen so many times, so many times where alcohol leads to bad things, and I don’t want to live my life in such a way as to encourage it. Plus, I have no desire to make alcohol part of my life. This must be the calm before the storm, and as always, I look forward to the next segment. P.S. Love Rummikub.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The drinking and driving was unacceptable for me as well. I have always been a social drinker, which turned into an evening drinker. Every night I had a glass of wine to unwind and never really questioned it. My husband had open heart surgery 2019, the day he came back home I had a glass of wine and decided I had to give it up for a few month, because you can’t take care of someone when you are not sober -even if it’s just a glass (or two.) I never went back to drinking, don’t miss it either.

      Isn’t Rummykub fun?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny, 5 years is what my ex told my mom he’d had after his employer sent him to rehab.

        Also funny that Wake Up, Little Susie! Life had been my “theme song” when I was a child!

        Anyway, I guess I also didn’t know what to do during the intervening 20+ years as I struggled to keep our family and our marriage together. Back then I think most of us didn’t know much about alcoholism or addiction, possibly kind of like abortion. I think now both of those things were more common than we realized because they were often swept under the rug and of course hidden from the “outside” world.

        Now I know why you have been so understanding and given such good advice about my struggles. Just before “the end” of my marriage I researched and attended an Al-Anon meeting. One of their mantras got me through the last three years or so. “Didn’t cause it. Can’t cure it. Can’t control it.” I think I’ve finally learned to accept that and move on with my life.

        Still, I am trying to decide if I would or could be friends with him again and am also wondering about your friendship with this alcoholic.

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        • We don’t know too much about addiction today either. I am a firm believer that not every addictive substance automatically creates an addict. Many (too many) have used drugs, alcohol and nicotine and were able to walk away with easy. I smoked for 35 years and stopped cold turkey from one day to the next. It was fairly easy, that’s why I started blogging. It puzzled me. My experience was so different from what I thought would happen. I was supposed to scream, suffer, complain, instead I was in a good mood.
          The moment when we stop a toxic substance that’s when we know if we are able to or not. Some can’t stop and will struggle for many years, some even for a lifetime.
          I had a glass of wine every night, sometimes even more for 15 years. It was my helper to unwind. I stopped November 2019 when my husband had unexpectedly open heart surgery. I never went back to drinking. I didn’t miss it.

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