Ting Ting, the sound bursts over the hubbub of the supermarket, a supervisor needed at checkout 5. I look over and recognise the customer. She is looking around her nervously, a kind of apprehensive glance, fleeting sweeps of the supermarket as if she is looking for someone, she sees me and drops her eyes, almost shrinking away from my gaze. I hastily look away, aware of her embarrassment , it is almost like those skits where the checkout operator calls out price check on durex box of 12 in aisle one” except this time it is a couple of bottles of wine. I think she is wondering does he know? We walk out together and exchange small talk.
A couple of weeks later and the scenario is repeated, same place and similar actions, this time I look her in the eye and say how are you? She drops her eyes, unable to meet my gaze and says she is ok. Is that a flush of embarrassment on her face I think to myself. You see she is an alcoholic. I will call her Jacky because I don’t want to dehumanise her or identify her.
I feel kind of helpless, although we know each other we don’t have a relationship, not one where I could say hey Jacky want to have a talk? I want to be able to help her but I know that alcoholics can only help themselves that is the first step anyway. I wonder what it is that pressed her button, tipped her off the edge, I think of H.A.L.T. an AA acronym, hungry, angry, lonely, tired,http://www.ipass.net/a1idpirat/AAglossary.html these things are when people with addictions are at their most vulnerable to picking up their drug of choice. Perhaps it was one of those? The reality is that I probably will never know and I don’t need to, I don’t and won’t judge Jacky. I have no idea of her life. All I did was to say hope things are going ok for you and wish her well. It leaves two things, one that I care and 2 if she should choose Jacky could share and perhaps I could be of assistance, essentially saying nothing.
Some may say it is the cowards way out and sometimes perhaps that could be true, however I am not known for being a shrinking violet and holding my tongue however…. I have an adage a motto that I live by and that is don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to. I use it both ways most of the time, for me asking a question and for people asking me except…
You know how it is when a good friend tells you something, they are not really asking you a question and not really making a statement. Perhaps they are looking for approval or enablement and perhaps not. The thing about silence is that it is risky; silence is often taken as disapproval, when sometimes it is just not knowing what to say. Silence can be just wanting to take time to think things through, and silence can just be that you are dumbfounded and hurt.
Back to Jacky, I know some alcoholics and I know some other people whom I suspect that their relationship with alcohol is not mutually beneficial. I enjoy a drink, a couple of glasses of wine, a few beers every now and then and on occasion I may have even imbibed to a state of being under the influence however I have arrived at a point some years ago where I realised that I should not drink with an alcoholic or enable them to abuse any drug of any kind, it is just not morally right. I am not talking about excluding people or refusing to associate with them but it may come down to that.
I have met and dated a few woman over the last few years and after a couple of dates (and in one case only one) it has being perfectly clear that any relationship with them would be a ménage a trios. Now for some people that would be an invitation that is hard to say no to, after all what harm can come from it? They will drink with or without me. Well that is up to them, I know that for me it is a simple decision, if I do I might as well pour the drink down their throats myself. Not for me…
Alcoholism is a terrible disease and I won’t support it. As for Jacky all I can do is say a prayer for her and not judge her. With my family background but for the grace of God there I go. If you think you are an alcoholic there are many places where you can get help, a simple search of AA will give you contact numbers. Alternatively you can contact me and I will gladly point you in the right direction.