Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Smell of Alcohol

Last night, one of my oldest and dearest friends came to visit from the UK. Right now, he's going through a tough divorce, is in his third year of medical school and came back to the states for a reprieve from his hectic life. Regardless, he was drunk the entire twelve hours we spent together.

What amazed me the most, seeing that I am rarely around people who consume any more than a drink or two, was this retched smell of alcohol/stress/smoke that emanated from him. It broke my heart. Here is a friend that I've had since early high school. A very smart, articulate and seemingly together person who would carry me home in my own stupor in our young adulthood. But, the smell of his entire struggle was so powerful, so familiar from a time ago, I could not believe the power it had over my emotions.

Last night, it was role reversal. I was looking at myself a long time ago. I saw this person desperate and out of control. This morning, I witnessed the shakes once again. To see someone you were so close to, for so long, in the most downward spiral is almost as debilitating as going through it.

And for the first time, in many years, I am at a loss. A loss because I know that people who are going through this have to make the decision to get help. He will have to be the one to decide to change the variables that are causing him such destructive pain. I can only be there, letting him know I care and providing space for him to heal. And it is worse than going through it yourself, in a sense, because you know where it leads and how very hard the journey is to get back to yourself.

So, this morning, I gave him a long squeeze, smell and all. He's a big part of my life, past and present. Letting go felt like I was sending off my former self but I have faith that he'll do the right thing. And today, I am keeping him close in my heart and in my thoughts.


Anonymous said...

I thank you for sharing that experience with me (everyone). Not to long ago I was in your shoes of sobriety. I have been struggling with addiction of drinking for what seems like so many years...
I had the gift of sobriety but let I it go. Now I struggle everyday to get back what I had worked so hard for.

Mary L A said...

Such a powerful post and a reminder of how it feels to see someone going through that familiar struggle and to be unable to ake choices for them -- just letting go.

Anonymous said...

i cringe to think that perhaps a few days ago my fiance could smell that wretched smell on me......thanks to your blog and to anothers i ahve found the inspiration i needed and a bit more courage. akathesiastic.