Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bad Trip Down Memory Lane

This weekend I felt a sick sense of deja vous. I visited one of my very best friends for her daughter's sixth. I would like to say it was pleasant: all balloons and cake and children laughing with glee. Of course there were those things. But there was another scenario unfolding beneath the surface joy and laughter, a darker drama playing out that spoke of pain and disease to those who could listen. The main character in the co-drama was played by my friend's current-ex-fiancé/boyfriend/not-boyfriend (if that description confuses you, you are not alone--guys like that thrive on ambivalence because it means they are neither gone yet nor expected to actually do anything real about the shabby state of their souls). There he sat, stone faced and sullen, chain smoking and mumbling derisive comments under his breath when he was not flat-out ignoring the world--a big worthless blob of human flesh that occasionally made itself known with the nastiness that spewed from its mouth. He sat and stewed and ached for a drink--any drink would do. At least he didn't show up to this family gathering wasted. No doubt he thought that will earn him some points--manipulation via Caring for the Children, Doing Good Deeds for the Kids, is a big item in losers like his bag of tricks. The sad thing is that if my friend doesn't get her head out of her ass, she will credit him those pints and he will be back more permanently in her life soon for Round III + of this melodrama so he can administer the necessary emotional abuse that she is so sorely in need of since she has finally gotten her act together and kind of (at least with some small success so far) realized she can make it without him. She made a big mistake: she got sick of his drinking and gave him half of a boot. She told him "if" ~ If he stops drinking... Guys like him know that only means they have to pretend long enough, convincingly enough to get his foot back in the door. If is not a very strong world. If has no walls. And no walls means you can walk right back back in and start right where you left off.

This Blob was the love of my friend's life. Doesn't it bring a tear of joy to your eye?

The worst thing about the scene is the eerie feeling that I had been there, done that. I had co-starred in that play before. Unfortunately, I know the role like I know the feeling of the ridges of my teeth to my tongue running over them. I know it so well I could almost mouth the lines along with the whole rotten B film. Although I have only met the guy two times, I know him all too well. His motives and actions are as predictable to me as that since today is Tuesday, Wednesday will follow. No, I did not play the alcoholic, thank you very much. No, I played the dumb fool responsible for his drunk ass and lost soul, or who at least for some warped reason felt like she was. And my friend was there on too many occasions as I sobbed and fumbled through with my drunk ex, her arms around me as I cried, her shoulder beneath me as my tears drenched her shirt. She lived those darkest moments of my life with me. You could say she had a supporting role in that fiasco.

So she saw the film, was a key player in my recovery from him ~how then could she have fallen for the same type of man? That was such a rotten story, why waste your time and effort on a remake? There are never any winners, never any awards in a play like that, and it takes too much of your time, energy and strength. There is no return on investment, and actually, a story like that leaves you in a sucking, empty ruin.

But, as the story goes, you always think your situation is unique ~you are unique. You will fix him. He will get off the drink for you and you will be a family and everything will be shiny and new and you will have the big house in the ‘burbs with the white picket fence and the dog chasing the Frisbee in the back yard, the kids on the swings laughing and getting As in school. You will slay the big bad wolf like none of the other princesses before you could. Sure, you will take a few shots in the process. He will call you a whore for no reason, tell you you are worthless. He will take your pride. The disease, through him, will eat your soul. Small price to pay. But you are more powerful than a silly little thing like alcoholism and he is too wonderful deep down that none of those things will matter. He will get better and all because of you.

Yeah right.

What you don't know when you enter that fractured fairy tale is that in this case the demon is alcohol and the person who becomes its slave enters a partnership with it. Alcohol promises to make him the man he thinks he can't be without it. It makes him so strong. He can call you a slut and it takes away his pain so he feels nothing except the warm glow of his partner ~not you, the alcohol ~enveloping him and telling him everything is all right. You may think you are his lover; that is why he'll change for you. But you are never going to be half the lover alcohol is, no matter how much of your soul you pour into fighting for him. In fact, your job is to take is punches (figuratively and sometimes literally) to show him physical evidences of his all-powerful manliness brought to you by his lover, alcohol. You don't realize the warped thing is you don't have to slay the wolf or dragon, you don't have to fight the disease. No. The miserable fact is the only way to survive that battle is to close the door behind you with him on the other side and never look back. Leave him with his lover, his drink. You've got some living to do. Sadly, it is often easier to fight the alcohol, easier to say he has a disease and will get better, than to face the fact that you don't have the power to save him. It is not your battle to fight ~it's his.It is his. And most of the time, alcoholics stop wanting to fight it. Losing a girlfriend, a wife, a job, your home, the respect of your family ~those things are only a little bad, not nearly bad enough to give up his man-making lover, the alcohol. Most of the time, those guys have to crash and burn hard, harder that you can imagine, to finally give it up. It is not pretty.

So time has turned the tables on us. Little did my friend know she was looking in a crystal ball, holding her future in her arms as it ruined her shirt. Little did I know I would get through it alright and move on to happier times, happier than I could ever imagine, only to watch her take my role and suffer as I suffered, walking the dark road that I once travelled.

I have tried to tell her, to coach her through. But when you are in a situation like that the well-intentioned words of family and friends fall on deaf ears. As I said, you feel like you can fix him, you are the one in a million who has the power to straighten a loser like that out, and the feeling that you are not enough, that alcohol means more than your love is too much to bear since you have poured so much of yourself into the whole ordeal already. You think you don't have the strength to face that sad truth, although somewhere in your heart you know it is true. I know she is not hearing me right now saying her lines from so long ago. But I keep saying them. My role here is to wrap my arms around her tell her she is more than strong enough. My role is to tell her she can do it. A million times if necessary.

A little spoiler here for those of you watching a drama such as this: There are happy endings, but sometimes you need to take on a new role to get them.


Blogger Suz said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your friend and it must be painful for you to go through this a second time as well.

10 October, 2006 18:35  
Blogger gingajoy said...

amazing how you can weave elaborate lies for yourself, isn't it? we're not stupid. why do we do it? i have no answer, but i am glad your friend has you.

11 October, 2006 11:24  
Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

I have no words as I, too, was one of those blind women (not with an alcoholic, but with a man who cheated on me.)

I just hope that she frees herself quickly before she or her children get hurt any more. :(


21 October, 2006 14:57  

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