I have been sober now for over two and a half years. In that time I have had many people reach out to me about ways to manage their drinking or to stop altogether. Many have been through SoberBastard but three have been people that I have known personally. Two of those three have been very good friends of mine; people I have known for years.
When someone you know personally reaches out to you for help, in this regard, it can hit you on a more personal level. While I wish the absolute best for anyone that is on SoberBastard, and will do anything to assist them, I have much more “stock” in the well being of personal friends. We’ve gone on camping trips together, laughed together and shared plenty of memories. Hell, we’ve even had beers together. So when they reach out looking for help and saying they want to better themselves it is almost unavoidable to want to jump in head first. Given enough time and progress in your own sobriety, it will happen to you.
This can be a heartbreaking endeavor, though. Statistically it is almost guaranteed. Just for me, and for you, it will take them many attempts and an almost equal amount of failures before they see success. That, my friend, is the nature of addiction.
Of course put a lot of hope into their success. You put your heart and soul into wanting them to succeed. Their accomplishment, in some small way, feels like part of your accomplishment. But their failures (relapse) can feel like your failure. It can be a hard blow that you feel in your gut. Did I not keep track of them enough? Did I not reach out enough or provide proper encouragement? Could my advice have been better; even tailored more to them? These questions, and this guilt, can be overwhelming.
I had a roommate from Jamaica in my late teens. He had a penchant for giving me nonsensical advice at every turn. One piece of advice I particularly loathed. He would say “You have to love with your brain, not with your heart. You love with your heart and you will eventually know heartbreak.” (I’m not going to attempt to type out the accent) Maybe it was the hopeless romance of a teenager but I hated that fucking saying. The older I get, though, the more I think it has some small bit of truth. Not completely, though, I’ve loved many women and had my heart broken multiple times- but on my death bed I doubt I will regret hardly a one.
But you do have to detach yourself, to an extent, from your friends that may look up to you and your sobriety. To hope for the best for them but to know what will be the likely outcome. But put your hope in the possibility that once they get knocked down they will get off their hungover ass, dust themselves off and work at it again. Furthermore, it can be the source of some awkward moments and feelings next time you are around said friends.
Out of the three that have contacted me all three are still in active addiction, meaning, they are still drinking. All three have had multiple relapses and many have fallen into past behaviors. This can be a tricky situation to navigate. As you may remember it’s not so easy to show your face when these situations occur. I had friends I didn’t hang out with for weeks because some asshole that looked just like me had puked down the side of their 2004 Honda Rav 4. Sorry Neal.
It’s difficult, and it’s awkward, to navigate this no matter which side of the fence you are on.Hopefully, being on one side of the fence and then crossing to the other has provided you a little perspective. Perspective on not only how to treat them, but how they feel during that time. I let down multiple friends, girlfriends, family members and bartenders that hoped to never see me again. Time and time again, many of those people were there to support me when I needed it most. You may feel some disappointment, sadness and maybe even some anger towards them or their relapse. You must always push that aside to be there for them just as those who love and support you did when you did the same stupid but unavoidable thing. Just always keep in mind “It’s easy to fuck up, but it’s hard to fuck back down”.