A text from a friend about wanting to drink less

I was texting with a friend night before last, and he got around to telling me that he is trying to go it sober, at least for a bit. He’s a younger man, 27 or 28, and you gotta go it slow with younger men. Younger men are afraid of the labels, and younger men really don’t want to stop drinking. I know the dude I was during that period of my life, and I had no interest in quitting drinking.

And I didn’t need to quit drinking; I made it through it. Sure, there were sucky parts, and people got hurt, but we all made it through it. I went back to college after that, after I was 27, while drinking, and in a five and a half year span I completed 143 credit hours with a 3.83 GPA, and edited and published and was president of an academic fraternity, and all the while I worked full-time (I did take a couple of months off to focus on the work load of one of the latter spring semesters). And I drank.

I say that I didn’t want to quit drinking when I was 27, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have an idea that I should. Like I said, we’re afraid of the labels at that point, and needing to change habits in any way means we have to start using labels. And we’re not sure which labels apply to us. We hope we’re not the dreaded one, an “alcoholic,” but we took one of those little quizzes they had on the infomercial to tell us if we’re an alcoholic or not. We scored eight out of ten, which is well in the dreaded range–they don’t tell you that just about everyone scores and eight on that, or at least a seven, even people who’ve never had a drink in their lives.

And we know that we drink so much sometimes that we do stupid stuff, and that our lives in general would be better if we didn’t drink–we’d certainly have more money–but we don’t want to start it with those labels, and changing our habits would change so much of our lives.

I should have been able to use that as a Litmus test. My life being so centered around drinking that the thought of changing those habits made me think of changing my whole life should have told me that drinking might be too central to my life. And I liked my life. I liked my friends. I liked the places where I hung out. I created a fictional self in that world that was better than the person I felt like inside, even if it was only for short periods of time. I liked that fiction; it didn’t scare me as much as being myself did.

Changing meant there was a problem, and a problem created the need for the labels, and the labels meant that the dude I was hiding inside of from my real self just might not be worthy of that.

Some of that might look like where this guy is right now. No matter what, a man of such age should probably avoid the labels.

So he tells me that he’s trying to get sober, and he asks if I have any advice. This is how some of the thread looked:

“I’m trying to sober out on some of my alcohol. Its only been three days, but I definitely have/had a problem. Any advice?”

I replied: “Look at your wife. Look at your kids. Sing to her belly. [She’s pregnant.] Realize all you could lose. I’m not trying to sell the blog, but I have some stuff on there, not much, three or four pieces maybe. There’s a category called “Substance Abuse and Recovery” that might help. “Friends in Sobriety” is a piece that you might take something from, and the poem “Half Measures” might help. “Four Years Sober (We’re never really sure we will)” is another one that might help.”

Then I told him that he might want to call a mutual friend, who is in the program, to see if he wouldn’t mind taking him to a meeting, to which he responded, “You’re serious about the meetings?”

I told them I was, and I asked if he wanted to talk on the phone for two or three minutes, as there’s really too much to say to put it all in texts, so we got on the phone for about ten minutes.

I told him that I was serious about a meeting for me, but only he should speak to whether or not he thought that was a good idea for him. Mention of meetings always pushing up against those labels, I was careful to point out that going to a meeting indicates nothing and that I don’t know anyone who can’t benefit from a meeting. That’s true, I don’t care if you’ve never touched booze once in your life, I believe that any person could walk in any meeting and come out better for having done so.

I totally believe that, and it has nothing to do with having a drinking problem or embracing the program; rather, it’s about sitting in a group of people who need help communicating to help each other, and that can benefit anyone. And it only costs a dollar and an hour, and it doesn’t cost the dollar if you don’t have it and you don’t have to stay for the whole hour if you don’t want to.

And then we talked for those ten minutes or so. We have a tendency to over-talk these things with people of this station, and I try to stay mindful of that. The more we talk, the more it seems that we need to talk, which leads to the thoughts of a problem and the need of those labels. Best to keep it as short and sweet as possible.

So that’s what we did. I focused on my experiences, in kind of an attempt to draw some broad strokes he might identify with. I enforced my belief in the need to stay busy, and I assured him that changing habits in such manner in no way means that he’s going to have to give up his friends. Our lives after sobriety dictate how our relationships progress going forward, and if there is a case where acquaintances fall off, it does so along the line of life, and by the time it happens it isn’t a sad or regretful thing; rather, it usually turns out to be a belief. (Getting sober has an amazing capacity to show us the difference between who is a friend, an acquaintance, and a drinking buddy.Misery does love company, and the less miserable we become the less we need the company.)

And I told him about my experiences with AA, why I don’t go to meetings these days and how everyone’s program of recovery, from anything, is unique, and that, while we can take something from folks who’ve already walked the path, our path is going to be different from everyone else’s, and sometimes we need to listen to the good voices inside of us more than anyone else’s voice.

So, like I said, you don’t want to get too wordy with this stuff, so I’m going to close this up here. I’m sure there will be a follow up to it sometime soon. That might come after we’ve gone to our meeting.

We didn’t confirm a meeting, but I’d imagine we’ll be going to one soon. I’m thinking about seeing if he wants to go to one Tuesday in the Hanover area, probably sometime around 7. Anyone who might want to join us would certainly be welcome, and attendance would not need to mean anything other than we’re going to a meeting. If you are interested, you can send me an email at paulelmo@hotmail.com, and I’ll let you know the time and place we decide on. I promise you, whatever you’re going through–and we’re all going through something always–it’ll help.

Much love and many prayers, beauties. I have every faith that life is going to give all of us nothing but blessings today; the X factor is what we choose to do with them. Be well.




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