Don’t Be Like Him

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I have a new job.  Well, it’s not that new now-I’ve been doing it for several months. I am a manager on duty at an event place that does mainly weddings.  I rotate dates with 2 other people.  Basically, I get here before the vendors, the event planner-whoever and get the lights turned on, the doors unlocked and set the climate control. I’m here during the event and then close up at the end after everyone else leaves.  I have to say, this is the polar opposite of catering.  It is SO FUCKING BORING!!!   But! It pays pretty good and they direct deposit into my account.  I bring a ton of food-as I’m here usually around 10 hours.  Today, I watched the Champions League Final on my iPad.  To be honest, the first few times I worked, I felt like I was going to get fired for slacking.  But there really is nothing to do.  Except for poking my head in every once in awhile, there’s no reason for me to be in the room where the event is going on.   And, I have to say, at the end of the night when I’m watching the caterers and the event people break down and load up, I am SO GLAD it’s not me.  Also, not to give myself a pat on the back, but to give myself a pat on the back, I realize that compared to a lot of the caterers that come through here, I was pretty damn good!

Needless to say, as these are wedding receptions, there’s alcohol involved.  For the most part,  everyone behaves.  But, there’s always a one or two that drink too much and are pretty sloppy at the end of the night.  To be honest, at times I see myself in some of these people.   However, for the most part, I’m in an office and not really involved except at the end of the night.  And so, like now, I can get on my iPad and do what I want.  Like write a blog post.

So, here I am tonight.  The ceremony was to be outside in the courtyard at 5:30.  Of course at that point it was over 100 degrees out-but hey, that wasn’t my call.  Anyway, all of the guests were seated and the bridal party was lined up to proceed with the procession.  I walked up to the front of the house and saw this guy come in late, really kind of frazzled, with a cup in his hand.  He asked me how to get to where everyone was seated and I pointed him down the hall to the open door where the bridal party was making their way out.  The bar was on the way and to be honest, I wasn’t surprised when he stopped at it.  Made a snap judgement and thought something to myself along the lines of “Yep!  He’s a drinkerprobably been drinking all day!” And then forgot about it and him.  Then later, as I was making another round of the building  ( I walk about 5000 steps over the evening-which makes up for the half pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karmal Sutra I just ate) anyway,  he was back in the kitchen- where no one ever goes.  And we started talking.  He was saying how he was nervous because he didn’t drink and everyone was drinking.  What a struggle it was and he LOOKED like he was really having a hard time.  I said that I’d quit drinking a few years ago and that I never woke up and wished I’d gotten drunk the night before.  We talked about how things that used to seem fun drunk weren’t anymore. I said how I always wanted to stay the longest and now  I was always ready to leave after about 5 minutes.  I mean, this guy was struggling with being here-around all these people he knows that he used to drink with.  I asked why didn’t he leave and he said he came in from out of town for this, blah blah blah.  But then, he told me that it’s been like 20 YEARS since he quit!  20 YEARS!!  I was blown away.   Not that I showed it, but to see him and talk to him, I would’ve guessed that he was in the early days of sobriety.  I mean he looks like a hard core drinker in the throes of detox. He was sweating, almost twitching, nervous. This got me thinking.

The first thing that came to mind is that I need to quit making snap judgements about people.  The other thing was, while I don’t know if this guy is in or ever was in some kind of program, I don’t think he’s done the work.  By this I mean either following the steps or done some kind of inner work.  I really felt for him. He just seemed in so much distress. I’m hoping that in his day to day life he’s in some kind of situation where he’s cocooned.  But is that really living? I’m not saying we should go into situations that make us uncomfortable, but at the same time, life happens.  To come to a celebration like a wedding and be so distressed about being around people that are drinking-it’s sad.  It almost seems as if it’s missing the point.

Of course health reasons and issues are a huge part and a very good reason to abstain from alcohol. But it’s also about living a fuller, more balanced life.  It’s about going through life “unmedicated.”  Being sober does not mean acting soberly in all circumstances  Now while I don’t know this guy’s story and I also realize that I’m projecting, I’m gonna go with that for a bit.  To me, this was an example of just hanging onto sobriety by your fingernails.  What joy is there in that?  I realize that for some, quitting is the main thing.  And, that’s a good thing.  But it’s just the beginning. And I think it has to be in tandem with really doing some inner work. Facing up to the reasons why.  Acknowledging whatever hurts and pains we’ve experienced in our lives.  Being honest withourselves-at times brutally honest.  It’s about working through our issues and  making a commitment to making the changes in our lives so that, not only do we quit drinking, but we are able to to release the reasons why.  We become self educated in recognizing the things that trigger our negative behavior-We learn to love ourselves enough to stop the self harm.  We learn to accept ourselves-all of our parts and idiosyncrasies.  We become familiar with what makes us whole.  What makes us feel good about ourselves. We learn to become comfortable in our own skin.   While all of this may include cutting some people out of our lives and even boycotting certain situations, it does not mean to exist by hanging on by a thread.  Where’s the joy in that?  And that’s the word. Joy.  I believe that we are here in order to experience this thing called life in the fullest way possible.  All of it’s ups and downs-all the good and the bad.  Doing this kind of deep inner work takes commitment.  It’s scary.  It can be draining.  But at the same time, it can lead to an unbelievable freedom.  Not that working on ourselves really ever finishes.  We will always have issues.  There will always be people and situations that punch our buttons.  We can always choose to look at these situations and grow from them.  Wonder why our reaction to something is so strong.  It means taking steps to find the right kind of help-again for some that may be “working the program”.  For others, it may mean seeing a therapist or joining some kind of group therapy situation.  Living sober should be about experiencing a kind of freedom that’s unknown while in the midst of an additction. The joy is under all the muck.  That guy at that wedding, he wasn’t free. He was missing out. Don’t be like him.

With Love

*after meeting this guy, I rushed in to my iPad and wrote most of this post. just finished it  today…

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What a Waste

I had a totally different topic that I was going to write about today…but something else is bothering me, so ….

The son of a friend of  ours-really my SO’s- came to stay with us.  From the UK.  The parents are very old friends of my SO and he has spent a lot of time with them where they live in the country.  They go back “donkey’s years” as they say…Anyway, they have a son-32 years old- who still lives at home and is around whenever we’re there.  But the interaction is fairly minimal as he’s doing stuff-whatever that is.  Doesn’t really work.  He was in a band for a time and traveled around a bit with that in Europe-but nothing ever came of it.  So he really doesn’t work other than doing things around the property for money.  Kind of like when I was a kid and I had to earn my allowance.  Which stopped when I was about 15 and got a part time job after school..Which this guy has never done. And just to be clear-and set the picture, his parents are not wealthy, landed gentry.  Well, they do have some land-but they are not wealthy.  He is not a “trust fund” child.

Anyway, when he called or e-mailed my SO to say he was going to be here in Austin for a week and would like to stay with us-we said fine.  Almost immediately, I suggested to my SO that it might be an nice idea to treat him to a hotel one night in the downtown, music part of town. When we realized that the second night he would be here we were committed to “Ashram sitting,” which is another blog post, and would be out of town ourselves, we thought that the perfect night.  So we arranged it.  We also offered him my old, beat up van to use while he was here as well as asking questions about what he would like to do. To be honest, my thought was that he really wouldn’t want to be with us at all and would love the freedom a vehicle would give him, etc.  But, no he said.  He didn’t want to use the van. So, my SO left me in Brenham, Texas at the Temple of Compassion taking care of the 2 sacred Brahma Cows and came back to Austin to pick him up from the airport and spend the night.  The next morning, he took him on a tour of Austin and checked him into the hotel that we’d booked.  My SO then returned to me and the cows.

So, to make a long story not so long, the guy wasn’t at home when we came back.  My SO went and picked him up and brought him back-where he ate some leftover pizza he had and then crashed out.  I’m not sure exactly what happened that night, but I can guess that a ton of alcohol was involved… Fine.  Now my SO and I are not into going out-driving downtown, etc.  Trust me, I have done that a zillion times and I just can’t be bothered.. The most we ever do is take people to a place called The Continental Club-which is iconic-for the 6:00 show..Anyway, earlier in the day on Saturday, he said he wasn’t going to go out.  Was just going to sit by the pool or hang in the back yard.  Which he did. Drank 8 beers and smoked a ton of cigarettes.  All before 6.  Then he decided he would go out.  My SO said he’d run him where he wanted to go and he could get an Uber back.  Sunday morning around 11, I was just trying to figure out how to check the previous evening’s arrest records when he called and said he was on the way back-some guy he’d met the night before was bringing him.. While he didn’t say so, I’m sure he was hungover..the shaking gave it away.. He had some toast and juice to hold him over til we had our usual Sunday lunch.  Then he took a nap…passed out is what I would say.

We didn’t see much of him that evening and he didn’t want to go out the following evenings. Just sat outside and drank and smoked.  On Tuesday, he decided to sit by the pool in the morning and had 7 beers by 2:00 p.m. Then took a “power nap” as he called it.  I call it passing out.

He’s gone now.  Left yesterday to drive to El Paso (God knows why!) before going on to California for a couple of weeks and then back to the UK.  The thing is though, I have had some major buttons pushed and am not exactly sure which ones.  I never once wished I was drinking.  And I don’t give a flying f*** if someone else does.  And, as I watched him sitting on the patio, drinking, smoking and listening to music, I couldn’t help but think about how I did that every night for, well, donkey’s years.  So what’s bothering me?  I will say, that his interaction with us was very minimal. He never seemed drunk.  He was always polite.  Said “thank you” and “that was lovely”.  But I couldn’t help but feel that those were canned responses-the kind he uses to appease his mother.  Of course when I was drinking a bottle of wine on the balcony every night-it was after working a full day.  Being productive.  After having gone to the gym and working out.  Walking the dog.

Which brings me to the question of, is there really any difference?  Is there any difference between someone who’s pretty lazy and spoiled and abuses alcohol and God knows what else-and someone who puts in their shift and more.  Someone who still gets the laundry done, the shopping done, dinner on the table, earns a paycheck? Does that make that person a “better” abuser of alcohol?  More deserving? There’s a part of me that feels that he is lost.  He’s in some kind of pain-on a “soul-u-lar” level.  As is everyone that abuses.  I don’t know-I wanted to put a list in his suitcase that went something like:                1)Move out of your parents house  2)Move out of that podunk town 3)get a job-any job-earn your own money 4)interact with different people… Shit like that.  Although as I’m going over this list here, it occurs to me that I never thought about telling him to quit drinking.  Huh! I don’t know.

Don’t know why I can’t just say to myself, “he’s gone..” and just forget about it.  Something about his energy-or was it the energy of a person in that state that is upsetting to me?  I will say my SO even picked up on it.. I thought I smelled something burning yesterday and when I mentioned it, my SO said he’d lit some incense to cleanse the energy-smudge the space!!! Of course after that, he’s just moved on-and I can guarantee you he hasn’t spent any time analyzing the whole thing. My SO I mean.  But in my case, this feeling of dis-ease is lingering.  I know in time, it will pass.  As I write this, what has occurred to me are the words “what a waste”.  And, maybe that’s it.  You know, I try to not be a would’ve, should’ve, could’ve kind of person.  I also try not to dwell too much on  the cringeworthy things in my past.  I don’t like to think about the drugs I took or the moments I was extremely drunk in a public place.  I also don’t lay a guilt trip on myself about it all.  But seeing it play out in front of my eyes-and I want to be clear-this guy wasn’t acting like this because “he was on vacation”.  No.  This is his life.  He’s 32.  I’ll be 62 in a few weeks.  Less time in front of me than behind me.  And while I had a long drinking career, I’ve also lived a life.  Had a career.  Traveled.  Met a ton of people. Grew in many ways.  Could I have grown more and maybe been more successful if I had been sober the whole time? Maybe..Probably.. Who knows?  I’m not going to beat myself up with those questions. I also came into this world with some drive.  Some desire to accomplish.. I’m a worker.  Just am.  It’s in me.  I realize it’s not in everyone.  But being a witness to this guy’s behavior was very upsetting to me.  Because, as far as I can see, it’s a waste.  It’s sad.  Don’t let that be you.

With love