I asked a grown man yesterday why he’d resumed an addiction that had landed him in his first bankruptcy and led him to have to fight off a slew of other addictions, all 13 years ago. I didn’t ask him in so many words, of course. I just said, “So why are you drinking again?” It was barely a question, given that I expected to be brushed off.
He replied that what I thought was new had been going on for months, more than two years, in fact. He hadn’t told me at first because he didn’t want me to see him “that way”. He tells me he is doing better, is more in balance mentally, than he has been in years. He says he hasn’t done anything worse, like drugs. He doesn’t know why he drinks, although he described how he resumed.
He sort of wants my acceptance, yet is both stubborn and saavy enough to know that it doesn’t really matter in the long run.
But what is there for me to accept? What is there for me to approve of? Can I tell a grown man with a wife and a four-year-old daughter to raise, a man with an already quick temper, a man who sees no problem in administering physical punishment to his young daughter when she asks him for a hug twice because she hasn’t spent any time with him in days, a man with major financial problems already, a man whose health is long past its peak and whose mental abilities may be following, a man that has strong tendencies to obsess and become addicted that I approve of him becoming an alcoholic again? This is, of course, ignoring the Alcoholics (or is it Narcotics?) Anonymous idea that once you are an addict, you are really always an addict.
But acceptance… It’s so much easier. All I can do is accept, right? I can’t change anyone, much less him.
I am a person that won’t ride in a car with someone if they drink on a regular basis, because you can just never know if they drank a little before leaving, or if they’re pissed (or happy) about something and laid it on. I don’t go to parties (or maybe I should say I wouldn’t go to parties) where there’s drinking or any other type of drug (including marijuana), and I’m generally disdainful of people that enjoy losing control in a way that could get others killed or hurt.
So few people really want to be seen as human, with all the frailties and mistakes (wo)men can make. Even with our friends, we put on dramatic airs, or tough airs, or hide in our superiority, whatever that may be. David Weber has written several times that moments of intense emotion can only be that–moments. They can never last long. I find that the same with vulnerable moments, even between the closest of friends. So many people, after that moment of vulnerability, that evening of intense and fascinating conversation, are capable of scoffing at the idea that they ever wanted anything more than what they have now–the “hey dude, let me tell you about this girl” conversations, the ribald jokes from movies, the horse-fighting that’s relieving anger they didn’t know they had. They never need anyone else’s approval on the choices they made, of course. Nor do they ever really seek it. They were just saying, you know.