If you’re in recovery, chances are at one time you’ve considered drugs or alcohol a best friend, a lover, or the only thing there to fill up your emptiness in times of hurt and desperation. What we once considered others to be fraud, misleading, or uncertain – at the time, we thought a substance our one true ally. Ultimately, if we’re lucky, we dig our heads out of the sand and realize how many people we are hurting around us.
Jason Hyland, writer and author, takes us just through that journey in a roller-coaster ride of his love affair and friendship with alcohol.
Breaking Rules and Hearts
I know you miss me, buddy. This is the longest we have ever been apart. The first week or so was terrible without you. I kept waking up sweating bullets and trembling in fear that this might really be the end to our decade long courtship. We started out like any other friendship, getting together during the weekends or on special occasions. We had some really great times together that is for sure. Breaking rules and hearts, running from the law, hitting triple digits on the freeway, and endless laughs at our rebellious life we lived together. I certainly will never forget our times as one, I promise you that.
Soon our weekend ventures turned into week night rendezvous’. Tuesday nights were dart nights, and, well, you cannot play darts by yourself, so I brought you along. And then we started hanging out every Thursday night, so we could kick off our weekends early. We were slowly becoming BFFs; you just made my life better. You were my one friend who was always there for me, who never argued with me, and who made me feel completely comfortable accepting the life we had built together.
“Girlfriends Come and Go…We Were Becoming Inseparable”
It seemed like every girlfriend I had was very jealous of all our time we spent together. The countless nights listening to them cry angry tears and trying to keep you and me apart had little effect on our ever-building relationship. Girlfriends come and go, but I knew you and I had a very special bond that was destined to last forever, and I was NOT going to let any girl get in the way of that
Remember when you moved in with me for good? Ah, the glory days when nothing else mattered. I even started to bring you to work with me every morning. I couldn’t just let you sleep in all day and then have to wait until dinner time to see each other. My co-workers must have thought I had a real weak bladder with the amount of times they assuredly saw me up and leave the office. Little did they know I was secretly hanging out with you in OUR Jeep listening to sports talk radio? And yes, I call it our jeep because I would never go for a drive without you right by my side. We were truly becoming inseparable.
Doctors eventually tried their best to intervene, taking me away from you for days on end. Not once, not twice, not three times, but seven times total in one year alone. Like I told everyone else, “Sorry doc, but he is my best friend and I cannot live without him.” They shook their heads in disbelief, knowing how unhealthy our relationship was fearing it could turn deadly. When they finally let me go home, I immediately ran right to you and we would be back to our ways together.
And how I could I forget my mother’s feelings about our unbreakable bond? She treated it like a high school relationship, like it was just some obsession. She simply was unaware of how strong our bond together was. I thought she was just doing the motherly thing and did not want to see her only child get hurt. So, I told her you moved out and that we only hung out on occasion. But then when I would show up to see her, she immediately knew I was still spending time with you and gave me a look of disgust. Again, I felt like she was just doing what any mother would if they feared for their child’s safety. She even collaborated with the doctors and nurses and they all ganged up on me at once. I could see the gravity of the moment by the expressions on their faces, a look of desperation. I still did not understand, though, what the problem was with our growing friendship? You filled me up inside when I was empty, something neither they nor anyone else could do. So finally, everyone left us alone, and we had freedom at last. The phone calls ceased. No more texts. As long as I was with you there was no more seeing any of them.
“Nothing Else Mattered”
You remember when you had finally taken my father’s life after a four-plus decade relationship? Our bond was too tight for that to happen, so I knew you would never do that to me and we became closer than ever, spending every second with you right by my side, no matter the time of day. No more girlfriend to bother us, no more work to go to, and no more family to deal with. Everyone was completely hopeless that we were going to BFF’s until the end. Their constant reminders of what my dad’s best friend did to him and other friends slowly faded away. They all finally accepted our friendship as it was; indestructible. Nothing else mattered to me anymore as long as I had you.
Life went on without incident and the days turned into months. We had our routine and we were sticking to it. Right when I woke up I had to immediately find you. I couldn’t start my day without you. We locked all the doors, pulled down all the curtains, and threw away every responsibility in life so we could go on forever together.
After a few months of monotony, I realized you were becoming an expensive friend to keep around for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But no person could ever get in between us so I certainly wasn’t going to let money get in our way. I knew I had to have you by my side at all times so I did whatever it took to assure our time together would never end. I would take you with me at night and we scoured neighborhood after neighborhood in search of your empty friends. Once we filled up the back of our jeep we knew we’d have another day together. And we would repeat this day after day. But I was getting tired of this degrading process that was draining me. So, I had a solution. I knew my family would never help us stay together, and I came up with a plan to get them back and allow us to stay glued together.
The Loneliness Became A Daily Thing
I found money, lots of it, and I took it when no one was looking. The plan was working remarkably! With each passing day, though, your company was filling my insides less and less. And did you see what you had done to me physically? I didn’t take you in and let you stay with me every single day for the past five years only to have you make me feel worse about myself. You never told me about the belly you were going to give me. You never said anything about it being harder to breathe the more we hung out. That it would affect simple things like walking up the stairs and doing dishes. But, I still couldn’t let you go. We had been together for far too long to give up now, so I pushed on. The bills continued to pile up, the loneliness become a daily thing, the same clothes entrenched my body day after day, my teeth were becoming more and more rotten, and even my dogs’ bellies began to get bigger. What did they ever do to you that you wouldn’t even allow me to walk them?
If I tried to even cut back a little time with you, you would make me feel even worse, inside and out. You had completely taken over my life holding all the power. Every single thing I did was for you. And now the same people who I cut off for you wanted to talk to me all of a sudden. Their pile of money just didn’t look right. It had dwindled down to the bottom, and I soon followed.
You had won. Game over.
Like Wilson Did to Hanks
But then something miraculous occurred. Of all the things you had taken from me over the years and all the strength you possessed, you forgot about one thing. I am a child of God and He had finally broken through the never-ending pile of shit we had built together called my life. His words were simple, yet more powerful than anything you could ever do to me. I went to sleep that night knowing that I would finally say goodbye to you forever when I woke up.
So, the next day, before saying our final goodbyes, I did something I was not able to do in many, many years. I told my family the truth. There were no more lies. Every single tear that I had been holding in because I feared your wrath poured down my cheeks. I finally felt free. Then, another miracle occurred. My family accepted me and wanted to help me. The same family that seemed to have drifted away, like Wilson did to Hanks, but fortunately for me, my raft caught up to them in the nick of time. They realized the power you possessed over me was far greater than all of ours combined. They realized you controlled my entire life. They realized everything I did was for you. And they knew that your plan all along was to take my life. And they knew, I alone, could not stop you from achieving your goal.
I packed you up into my jeep and off we went. You knew something was up when I took you down to the beach, solo. We had many great times down there during our time together, but all of that was about to finally be put in the rear-view, for good. After we had one last moment together I did one more thing that I hadn’t done in many, many years, something I had never been able to do since the day we first met nearly twenty years ago. I finally freed myself from your impeccable grasp and watched the ocean waves take you away. Forever.