I don’t know what I’m about to say, only that for the past few hours I’ve felt a compelling need to say something. Because I’ve been asked to keep parts of what I’m about to reveal confidential, I’ve altered some details.
I have a friend, someone I’ve known a few years, who called me today. She came by the store while I was working and we talked for a bit. I hadn’t heard from her in over a month, and I found out she had been in rehab for the past month.
That didn’t really shock me; I always knew that when she drank, she drank too much and did stupid things. We were never that close, but here she is, fresh out of rehab and looking better than I’ve ever seen her, and it was weird.
Turns out she had a substance abuse problem beyond alcohol, which I never knew but didn’t shock me. I think what’s throwing me for a loop is she got herself into rehab- no urging from anyone else, no DUI (which really wouldn’t have shocked me) mandating it, no boss or boyfriend saying she had to go or else.
But we’re sitting there, talking (because I believe when a friend tells you they’ve checked into rehab and changed their whole life, it’s wildly acceptable to take a break for 15 minutes), and all I can think of is how shallow I am to think that my problems are problems at all.
I mean, yes, despite the family history, I will have a drink. I am not scared of alcohol. I do not drink to get drunk, and when I have a sip of alcohol my personality doesn’t change (the hallmark, in my mind, of someone with an alcohol problem). If I ever drink to the point of impairment, it’s because I haven’t eaten or some stupid thing, not because of excess, and those times are blessedly rare as I get older and smarter. I have no problem turning over my keys. I do not believe that drinking is a necessary part of any social function. I don’t feel like I need to drink and I will not avoid situations where I cannot drink. In the crapshoot that is genetics, I have gotten lucky. It’s something I watch very carefully and something I am more paranoid about than anyone else I know (except, perhaps, my mother, because after all I learned from the master).
But let’s just say for a minute I DID have a problem. My friend’s lifestyle and mine are very similar (well, except for the AA meetings): we both live alone and, while our families are close, they don’t visit daily. We both make our living on talent, not training. We both have a number of people we are close to. We are both bright, independant people. And then I wonder: if I did have a problem and I knew it (as she did), would I have the fortitude to check myself into rehab?
I have new respect for someone I used to just think fondly of. Not once did she blame anyone but herself. My phone service gets cut off and I’m blogging to blame everyone from Gandhi to Mel Gibson. She has a problem that’s screwed her life up so badly she can’t function without a drink, and she simply takes care of it.
That has to be hard. And she made it through. So far. As the saying goes, one day at a time. It makes me realize that all my problems- every one of them- are really nothing. I am lucky beyond belief.
And, you know what? She is, too.