Dear ‘friend’ …
On the eve of my one year anniversary since I said goodbye to you, I’m reminiscing about our relationship, trying to remember the so-called good times we had. The good times I thought I was going to miss. The good times I thought I could never live without, and mostly the bad which at the time I was too blind to see.
It has been the best decision that I’ve ever made. I have learnt so much about myself. I’ve learnt so much about our society we live in.
How many broken people are out there. When we think about broken people, we think of the people sitting on the corner of a street, or lying next to the road, drunk. Homeless people. People in rehabs, or not yet, or that can’t afford help. Never the middle class, going to fancy food markets, drinking craft gins in beautifully presented glasses, or beautiful big glasses of crisp wine on a summer’s day at a restaurant with a beautiful view. Or just at your home entertaining friends with an endless supply of champers and wine and beer.
For me now, who has gone through this journey, realising that I don’t need all that to make a summer special or friends memorable. There is nothing good about drinking – it has no purpose. Like my dear husband said, all it does is make strong men and women weak.
We have ‘lost’ friends, and I put it ‘lost’ because did we ever have them?
I find so many people shocked, mesmerized, unsettled, obsessed, intrigued by our choice not to drink. When all it actually means is that they don’t want to look into themselves like we did, so rather focus on other people and situations, just like alcohol did – numb all uncomfortable feelings.
If I had a Rand for every person, after every night, after having a chat about our decision (which is often most of the nights), who said, ‘I am lucky, I can stop any time’, I would be very rich. Well why don’t you stop?! Why do you like throwing money down your throat with no good coming out of it?
Don’t you want to be the best person with clear thoughts and decisions at any given time?
I was listening to Eusebius’ show last week on the radio, talking about a law that government is proposing – arresting pregnant women who drink. And it made me think, debating with myself in my head. Should we or shouldn’t we? South Africa has the highest incidences of Alcohol Foetal Syndrome.
Are we not all to blame? We look at people who go to rehab as the alcoholics, but we have no problem finishing two bottles of wine at a family lunch with our kids around. I mean, even doctors will say one or two glasses of wine when pregnant is not a problem. But we are fine, we can handle it. It is all good because we are not in a shebeen ….. mmmm, what’s the difference?! The only difference is how we justify it in our heads.
But how many people can actually moderate? I most certainly can’t.
Alcoholics take secret sips from a hidden bottle in the cupboard, and can’t stop themselves.
We go to a kid’s event or kids’ parties, and have no problem having 3 or 4 or 6 beers or 3 glasses of wine or champers, get in our cars and drive home, all in view of our kids and with our kids. This is the example we give our kids of how absolutely normal and acceptable it is to drink. We are not the best we can be at that moment.
Why would kids, when offered to drink with their friends, not say no to it? We showed them how acceptable it is! Not to mention how we shun them to ‘go and play’ and not be around the adults in these ‘events’, creating even more self-worth issues – where alcohol is all too ready to pick up the pieces and fill the spot.
Not so long ago, during school holidays, we went camping. They had a holiday program to keep the young and old entertained at the pool. One of the games for the adults was to eat a Marie Biscuit and then down a beer. Now in my drinking days I would have just thought this is quite funny. But now with my sober glasses on, I was looking at this spectacle, with ‘the contestants’’ kids cheering them on. How normal we’ve made our bad drinking habits. How can we be shocked and disappointed then when our kids do the same?
My husband, whilst driving with my 5 year old, was reprimanding a fellow motorist for talking on his phone when my son gently reminded him that he also did it the other day. No come back to that.
I guess my point that I would like to make is that alcohol does not discriminate and it is an extremely addictive drug that is so socially and emotionally acceptable. But it destroys so many beautiful people. Alcohol robs so much potential from awesome people.
It IS a tough journey to listen to those inner voices. But once you accept your beautiful self and realise that you are not the problem, life becomes just so much more beautiful.
For the past 365 days, I have had no sudden wake-ups with guilt in the middle of the night. No facing people or situations on the back foot, wondering if I behaved badly, because that is the gift my dearest friend gave me in return for the time spent with her.
So I am happy to say goodbye, you are not missed. And my kids would like to say thank you.