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March 26, 2021

Alcohol Friend or Foe?

I am not sure when exactly my relationship with alcohol started to go south. Maybe it has always been a love/hate relationship and I have only recently become more aware of the dynamics and this on again off again dance I partake in with reckless abandon.

It started as with most relationships, infatuation, newness and excitement.  It was in my teens when I first fell for its allure, charm and intoxicating pleasure.

It was an honest plunge; alcohol was a big part of my childhood influences.  My father was not a card-carrying AA member, but he could have benefited from a meeting or two, or three, or four.  So, to say that alcohol had a significant impact on my childhood formative years would be an accurate assessment indeed.

My relationship started at about sixteen, yes underage drinking, do not judge me.  In some countries and cultures this is perfectly fine.  Yet, in my culture it was against the law and probably part of the excitement.  It all began with my first job and hanging out with people who were older and of drinking age.  I was a mature sixteen so sneaking into bars was easy.  Alcohol became my friend making me cool, fun and rather irresponsible. Doing things I should not; lying about what I should not be doing and not caring. Foe?

This behavior continued into college and once again I mistakenly saw alcohol as a friend.  It allowed me to escape out of my introverted shell. Sure, I missed classes, suffered from some brutal hangovers, even blacked out at times, and well I hate to admit it, but vomiting was no stranger either.  Foe?

During my late teens and early twenties alcohol impacted my relationships with men. Enabling me to make rather poor and risky choices.  Foe.  With friends like that who needs enemies, right?  I thought it was my friend because it gave me courage and brought me out of my shell so to speak.  However, in hindsight, and the perspective of 20/20 vision, I can see clearly now that I was under a very misleading spell.

The love affair continued through my young marriage, taking a break to have children of course, only to get right back on the intoxicating ride when at all possible. Some friends just do not know when to quit hanging out and go home.  Some friends lead you down a rabbit hole of which there is no return or better yet no repair. Foe?  My marriage ended, and although I take complete responsibility for my part, I also know that over drinking played a critical role in my decision-making ability and poor choices.  The honeymoon is over and the evolution to a love/hate relationship has begun.

I loved how it made me feel. Friend. I hated how it made me feel. Foe.  Maturity and age brought about better decision-making and choices, but my dear friend alcohol still managed to have its say. Its advice was not always the best, and sometimes I listened. Foe?

But then time started catching up with me, and my body got in on the love/hate affair. Speaking up in ways that got my attention.  It was not the answer anymore to my problems and unresolved issues, it was now interfering with my quality of life and health.  Friend some days, and Foe soon after. Nothing speaks like bodily discomfort. Alcohol how could you do this to me?  I thought you were my friend.

I still love the fun. I absolutely hate the depression it can cause, and I certainly do not like the physical discomfort it seems to be causing of late.

Some days it is my best friend, soothing my mind and relieving my stress.  Other days it is wreaking havoc with my emotions and mood.  Let us not discount the impact on my weight, although age is also a factor, alcohol is no innocent bystander.

Once you were my friend and I so looked forward to our time together.  But now you frighten me, let me down and hurt me more than help me.  More Foe than Friend.

The jury is deliberating, it is hard to let go of a tried, true and somewhat trusted friend.  However, once that friend becomes toxic and is now a foe the anticipated loss and grief must take its place.

Now being alcohol free for over 245 days I have had to face the demons that it, with my permission, so masterfully kept hidden from sight. Facing the truth of my past hurts, my past failings, my mistakes and missteps, the pain I inflicted not just on myself but those I love, has been an act of pure remorse, regret and forgiveness.  Making friends with the part of me that needed to hide, to hurt, to fail, has been a dive into Maitri unlike anything else in my life.

I know that I am not alone in this love/hate relationship struggle with alcohol and COVID has certainly brought it to the forefront.  May I make the right decision and choices for my health and my life and most importantly my true best friend (Maitri), and may you do the same.

Peace and love

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