My phone's message alert went off as soon as I turned it back on this afternoon. I had been in a meeting, and when I came out there it was. I answered it and a very serious voice asked me to please call her as soon as I got this-it was important. I called, and was told that a friend of mine had died that morning. A relatively healthy 40 something alcoholic who could not stop drinking and stay stopped to save her life.
She had lived here for a little over 6 months, out in the studio apartment, while she tried one more time to get sober. She did alright for a while, and then, as usual, she as back on another bender. After a couple of these, I asked her to please move out, as I could not have that here. Our agreement was that she could live there as long as she stayed sober.
She managed to quit drinking a couple of more times since then, only to have some catastrophe or crisis send her back into the bottle again. She lost her last in a string of temporary jobs. Her son wanted nothing to do with her. Her boyfriend that she had a love/hate relationship with, told her to get out of his life...he couldn't take it any more.
I am deeply saddened by her demise. She was a wonderful human being when she was sober. I knew a side of her that was all soft and loving and breakable. The outer persona was brittle and brutal and sometimes mean. Always keeping her guard up. Always such a child in there.
Unfortunately for people like her, and like me, and like so many I know....this is what we get. If we drink, we die. We absolutely cannot drink for any reason , of any amount, in any way. Complete abstinence is our only hope. We crush the people who love us, we do things we would not normally do, we hate ourselves with such a ferocity it is unimaginable.
If we are lucky, we find ourselves in a life and death situation where recovery is the only option. I am so grateful that I had the shit kicked out of me by life one last time, right after I got arrested for druink driving. I am so grateful that there was no where else for me to go. I suspect that if there had been one more shot, I would have not made it here. Like my friend, I would have kept hitting myself in the head with that bottle until finally my head split wide open (metaphorically speaking) and all the life drained out of me.
I have known so many people these past 20 years that have died. Because they could not live with alcohol or without it. Because they could never be convinced they were worth saving. Because they had to chase that high, that buzz, one more time. Because this might be "the" time they got the relief they were looking for. And they are dying of things that don't look like death by drugs or alcohol...but they are. Things like seizures and respiratory arrest and cerebral hemmorhages. Things like massive heart attacks. Things like intestinal bleeding. People who are worn out and used up and oh so tired of the tragic comedy they have been living for far too long. People who have only 2 choices left to them. Live. Or Die.
I am feeling so bereft tonight. I know that there is nothing I could have done differently. I know that none of this has anything to do with me, really. But I also know that in my heart I will continue to wonder if there wasn't something I could have said or something I could have given her that could have prevented this. It is all so tragic. Her 17 year old son will continue the rest of his life without his mother. Her parents and step parents have lost their daughter. And I have lost a friend...
At last, she has peace.
May 17, 2011