One of the first things I noticed when I stopped drinking was how lonely I felt. How I knew hanging out with my drinking buddies in the same places was going to cause problems for me. And when many found out I was no longer drinking, all of a sudden I was a freak of nature, now a few months later it is obvious that they felt uncomfortable about themselves.
People, Places and Things
I sure as hell didn’t want to change everything, but now only 4 1/2 months later, I can see I have changed almost everything. I do have the same man in my life, things are much better, my family doesn’t live close by but our relationship has improved for sure (for the most part). So those things have improved, I wouldn’t call it “change” necessarily. I don’t frequent the same bars or restaurants, most of the eating places I go to, are now more family oriented and most don’t even serve alcohol. Those things have changed and barring one friend specifically, I don’t see most of my old buddies, I don’t think they are losers, I am not going to dump on them and say what I have heard many alcoholics say, “They weren’t my friends in the first place.” I still believe they were and when I do see them around town, we are happy to see one another, it is just different.
And Then There Was One
I have a buddy that belongs to the Elks Club with me. I know him, his wife and his kids. I love them all. Great people. (Let’s call him Bill). Bill and I have been great friends for about 10 years. He’s a guy that works out of town and then comes back home on the weekends. It is shift work, he is a welder but most of all, he is a survivor. Doing the shift work that he does, he is always at risk of getting laid off. The money is good and for a guy that has tons of skills and not a lot of schooling, this is the deck he is playing with. When I was having troubles with some stuff at my camp, Bill was first in line to come over to help out. When a tree fell down on my property and I needed it removed, he and my other buddies were there. He and I have always been very close in what we talk about, knowing that the other is a vault and neither one of us would ever “rat each other out” to anyone.
Meet At the Club
When I was drinking, Bill and I would meet at the Club for a drink, two, three… The drinks are strong there and cheap. Made in a pint glass, they are probably 80% booze – when you mix with so little water, the drinks are very dark! The Club serves starting at 9:30 am, many times he would have worked all night, get to town around 10 or 10:30 and we would throw back a few together. That is the back story.
We still meet at the Club, not as often, I bring a coffee and he has the “usual” Jack and water. When I run out of coffee, I go to “straight diet pepsi.” I told him early on that I had to stop drinking, I felt like crap and needed to make changes and I was going to AA. I was honest and where I was expecting him to react like many others did, he said, “I don’t care about that, that doesn’t change anything between us.” And it didn’t, sorta.
Heart to Hearts
We always relate to life, his issues with his aging mom, his wife, kids. other things. As drunks talked, I could always agree it was everyone else’s problem and that he was absolved of any wrong doing. I tell him my problems too, my family, work, etc. he is always on my side. Most recently, he has been telling me about his sleep problems and this last trip home, he told me about going off the interstate but saving it and ending up back on the road again, no one around, it was late at night, he must’ve nodded off.
I know that my friend Bill is not going to listen to me preach the AA gospel to him. I know that will shut him completely out of my life. What I am really hoping is that he doesn’t kill himself one way or another (or any one else) before he decides to make changes. He has noticed that I am not drinking, though he doesn’t make a big deal out of it. He has noticed that I don’t look the same. He has remarked that I am looking “really good.” There has not been one word about AA and I am not exactly sure when the time is right to talk about it. So I am giving it to the Higher Power and praying about it. Praying mostly, that he wont kill anyone when he gets behind the wheel.