I am about to tell another friend in sobriety that I cannot have any contact with him because of his using…and it hurts like hell.
We’ve been friends for almost 20 years. I call him family. I love him. And, I can’t have him in my life.
His drinking and drugging has changed him to the point that HE wouldn’t recognize himself anymore.
Have you been here with a friend? Do you know what it’s like to end a relationship with someone because of their drinking or using? If so, then you know the fresh hell I’m going through.
I’m writing this now, while the feelings are so horrible, because I want to remember the pain, and why I made this decision. I want to help others who may be facing this decision. I want to know that it was worth walking away.
What makes a person walk away from a 20 year friendship – a brother – over their drinking and using? I don’t want to go into details about my friend/situation, because I want to respect his anonymity. So, I will list some of the reasons friends and family of alcoholics and addicts give for walking away:
- Being lied to.
- Martyr crap. (“Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.”)
- Not following through on promises or commitments.
- Saying they are going to get help and not doing it.
- Saying they are going to change their lives and not doing it.
- Hanging out with people in places that trigger their disease.
- Unwillingness to change those people and places.
- Controlling to the max…about everything.
- Getting anxious and jumping to rage easily.
- Yelling at those they love when they feel out of control.
- Not taking care of themselves.
- Doing just enough to say that they are doing SOMETHING, but not doing enough to GET WELL and stop falling back into using/drinking.
This last point is the one that has kept me locked in for so long with my “brother”. I stay stuck because I DO see effort being made and I often think,”I’m a judgmental FUCK! Look, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got. My expectations are WAY TOO HIGH! If I were in his shoes, I don’t know if I would be able to make the changes I expect of him.”
I don’t stay sober because I’m married. I don’t stay sober because I own a home. I don’t stay sober because I have a job and have a certain amount of money.
I stay sober because I choose and want to.
I have heard complete horror stories throughout my years of recovery from people who wanted to get and stay sober. A very good friend of mine had 3 children under the age of 6 and a husband DYING of cancer when she got sober. She managed all of that and still went to meetings in between caring for all of them. Did I mention her house slid down a hill in a mudslide?
These could have been EXCUSES for her to not get and stay sober. No one’s path in sobriety has not been neat, clean, easy, “saintly”, straight, perfect, or without SERIOUS setbacks.
I, too, have encountered major problems during my recovery. This has included other addictions that I have had to tackle. In response, I chose to go to other Programs to work on them and then deal with the BAD behaviors I inflicted on other people in my life. I have made HUGE mistakes. I have also had to look at all of the trauma that was unearthed. Some truly horrific stuff happened to me that I did NOT want to look at. No one wants to look at that shit! I can only say I didn’t want to continue dying and hurting people MORE.
This is life. This is recovery. THIS IS SOBRIETY.
This is worth it!
So, when I see my “brother” throwing in the towel after being with me – HELPING ME – through all of that, it drives me CRAZY!!
I see him through 3 inches of glass…drowning on the other side…and I can’t save him.
I realize I have been going through the Stages of Grieving (https://soberdoesntsuck.com/sober-and-grieving/) ever since I told him to leave our house a couple weeks ago.
- I have selfish thoughts like: “Doesn’t he see how much this is hurting me?”
- I have angry thoughts like: “I am going to call and yell at him and tell him all of the things he has done and is doing to piss me off!”
- I have running away/denial thoughts like: “I’m just going to ignore him and all of this is going to go away. Or, he’ll see that I’m ignoring him, feel bad, and just get better.”
- I have bargaining thoughts like: “I’ll contact the few people left in his life and organize an intervention. I’ll contact treatment centers to see who has a bed and who takes his insurance. Then, I’ll give him the ‘bottom lines’…like on the show Intervention. That’ll work!”
- I have sad thoughts like: “I’m losing another sober family member/friend. He is my “brother”. I love him. We’ve been through so much together. I can’t see a day without him in my life. I DON’T WANT to have a life without him in it. This is so desperately depressing. Why can’t he see how special and beautiful and precious he is? Why can’t he see how much I love him? Why can’t he love himself…even just a little? He’s helped so many people and they love him so much! They would go on and on about all of the amazing things he has done for them. He has SAVED PEOPLES LIVES! Why can’t he save his own??? I can’t see my life without him and I DON’T WANT TO! I don’t want to listen to my sponsor or my two other sober friends who say I am enabling him. I want to believe I am helping him… I am TOO SAD!”
Then, I have the acceptance thoughts. These are all thanks to ANOTHER recovery Program (https://al-anon.org/newcomers/self-quiz/) that I started attending almost a year ago for situations like letting my “brother” go. These thoughts are: “I can turn him over to HIS Higher Power and have FAITH that he is going to be taken care of…however that looks for him. It may not go MY way. He may not end up with ME. I may not be what is best for him. I have to accept that. I have to be open to whatever is best for HIM, not me. I have to love him enough to let him go. Letting him go doesn’t mean I will stop loving him. I never have to stop loving him.”
So, do I love him enough to let him go?
I just got done staring at the blinking cursor on my screen for a long time…and took a deep breath.
Yes. I love him enough.
After I turn off my computer, pray for him and for me, and LISTEN (through mediation) for some guidance, I will give him a call. If he answers, if he’s not drunk or high, I will say the words that are meant to be said.
And I will let him go.