Out of all of my blog posts, this is the one I’ve debated and struggled with writing the most. Many would argue that there comes a point where you need to draw the line between what you broadcast to the entire world and what you keep behind closed doors. This is something that I’ve kept behind a very firmly closed door for a long while and I’ve decided that now is the time to share it. Why? If one person with an alcohol problem reads this, relates to it and maybe even opens their eyes to just an inch of the pain that it is causing to those around them, then it is worth it. Though I won’t name the person in question, what I will say is that a very important person in my life has an alcohol problem. Having passed the stage of denial, even they admit the seriousness of the situation and the most frustrating thing about that is that they still have absolutely no desire to seek help.
When I think back to my childhood, most of my happiest memories are with that person. I never had a bad relationship with any of my family, but I was certainly closest to them growing up. They just seemed to get me. They were the first family member I told that I was gay. Or actually they asked me before I even had to tell them because that’s just how well they understood. They accepted me for me without question. So when the other evening they contributed part of their drinking problem to the fact that I wasn’t close enough to them growing up, a piece of my heart shattered. The happy childhood memories I had were torn to shreds by their refusal that they ever even happened and I was left to question how I could have done things differently so that things didn’t end up this way.
I would describe our relationship now as continually worsening. Mostly due to my absolute frustration and resentment surrounding the whole situation. Although I know that I still love them and they still love me, it’s a struggle to remember that sometimes as we just don’t talk much anymore. It’s difficult to explain exactly how it feels to have someone you’ve known and loved your whole life become somewhat of a stranger. That isn’t to say there aren’t good days and moments of laughter and happiness. The days where they act like their old self for a while are my favourite days of all. But in some ways it makes it harder because I’m reminded of how good things were only to have it swiftly ripped away again. I’m sick of playing the “which version of that person am I going to encounter today?” game. I do still love them, but it’s a difficult kind of love.
I want to make it clear that I’m not anti-alcohol. Anyone who’s seen me on a night out will certainly know that. I happily admit that alcohol has the potential to be great. As someone who’s horrifically socially awkward, I do quite enjoy drinking something that for a few hours allows me to speak without over-analysing every word that leaves my mouth- and gives me the confidence to showcase my exceptional dance skills. The difference is that I know that I can’t rely on it to do that for me every day, but when you do come to rely on it for any reason, it can become a serious problem.
I know that there are underlying reasons for my loved one’s drinking problem and although it’s a struggle, I always try to keep that in mind, otherwise I would take everything so personally that it would drive me mad. Mostly I feel helpless. As someone who naturally seeks to resolve situations and keep everything in order, I have absolutely no control, because as they say, it’s none of my business. Except it is, because I love them and I care about them, though that love and care is in their eyes interfering, malicious and self-serving.
It’s difficult to imagine anything positive when I think of what the future holds, but I’m slowly learning that part of the process for me as a loved one is to separate their future from my own and start to look ahead in terms of myself as an individual. Making that step is hard because I often feel so selfish, but when I think back to the person I knew when I was little before all of this happened, it’s what they would have wanted for me. And I know it still is what they want for me beneath the bubble of misery that alcohol has placed them in. I know that there are many people out there who have to deal with loved ones with much more serious alcohol and addiction issues, and all I can say to those people is that I am so sorry for what you have been thrown into. It isn’t a choice for any of us and I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.
I’m always available on twitter @emkirsten for anyone who needs to chat. I can’t promise that I’ll give any life-changing advice, but I’ll always try and I’ll ALWAYS listen.