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Shaken, Not Stirred

November 6, 2009 Family, Fear, Friends No Comments

I made a joke in a previous post regarding midday drinking. I’m not going to lie — I really do enjoy midday drinking (as well as drinking at almost any other time of the day). But I have a good friend who is struggling with alcoholism and the afternoons are her witching hours. She isn’t working right now, and has found herself with nothing to do on a few afternoons. So she goes to the bottle. In Tuesday’s case, she went to the bottle-and-a-half of port wine.Which she drank while hiding in the basement.

She was grocery shopping yesterday afternoon and wandered down the booze aisle. She walked out with a bottle of wine that she went home and drank by herself. Today, she called me to ask if we could hang out this afternoon. This was right before she called another friend to accompany her while she checked herself into rehab.

Step 1.

Scary! Drinking can be a slippery slope for many people. We all want to believe that we can stop at any time. And most of us can! Until we can’t.

I am a self-described “heavy drinker.” I like drinking, and I’m good at it. My friends are often amazed at how much I can drink and still be fully functioning. I rarely have a hangover. I’m not saying this to brag; it’s a matter of fact. I like the idea of having a drink. I like holding a drink in my hand. I like the fun that I have with my friends when we’re drinking. It’s a very social activity for me. What makes me different than my friend is that I can walk away from it, or even the idea of it. Sitting here now, just after noon on a Friday, I am enjoying a beer. I ran 11 miles this morning and wanted a beer with my lunch. Fine. Once this beer is gone (and I usually leave the last ounce or so on a beer because it gets warm), I’ll get up and take my dog for a walk and not think about it again. Believe me, there is enough booze in this house to really tie one on. But I really just want the one beer.

I went back to Kansas City for a family wedding in June. I come from a family of drinkers and weddings are as good an excuse as any to raise our glasses and celebrate. Everyone was participating in the fun all weekend long. Good times! Monday morning, I got a call from my dad. He said, “Molly, I think you have a drinking problem.” I won’t lie, it was 10 AM and my first thought was, “Oh brother. I need a drink!” Instead, I took a deep breath and asked him why he thought that. He started asking me questions — Do I drink every day? How many drinks do I have when I drink? etc… I was able to put his fears to rest with my honest answers: I don’t drink every day. I sometimes will have a single glass of wine with dinner and put a cork in it – I don’t drink it until the bottle is gone just because it’s there. I don’t use alcohol as a crutch or a coping mechanism. Dad was relieved and I was grateful that we could have the honest conversation. He admitted that he thinks he walks very close to the edge, and alcoholism runs deep in the Sweeney family. Since then, I have really thought about my relationship with alcohol, and I’ve asked my friends who are closest to me their thoughts. We all agree that I do not have a drinking problem and that is a relief.

But the fear is there. Fear of having alcohol control me. Fear of someone telling me, “You’ll never be able to have a glass of wine again.” Fear of losing my husband, my friends, and my health. My friend is walking down this very scary path and I’ll be with her every step of the way to help. The things we used to do together often revolved around drinking, but I know that our friendship is deeper than a highball glass.



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